For a new home gardener, knowing when to plant seeds can be as confusing as how to plant them. Garden centers are filled with seeds in the middle of winter, and small seedlings are featured when snow is sometimes still on the ground. Every area of the country is different in terms of planting times, as is every variety of plant. The key is all about the frost dates and making a planting calendar.
Check the Farmer's Almanac or another reliable source to determine the average frost date for your part of the country. This is the date upon which every other date is based, so mark it on your calendar prominently.
Make a list of the vegetables you want to grow. Include those that will be planted from seed as well as those that will be transplanted as seedlings.
Read any seed packets you already have. Each packet will have planting instructions for that particular variety. Most will instruct you to plant a certain number of weeks after your frost date, or after all chance of frost has passed, or will recommend starting the seeds inside before your frost date.
Research seed catalogs for information on vegetables you don't have seed packets for. This same planting information will be in any reputable seed catalog.
Mark the planting information on your list of vegetables that you would like to grow. Each line should have the name of a plant and whether to start it inside so many weeks before the frost date or outside so many weeks after the frost date.
Mark your calendar using your master list of vegetables and planting dates. Count back or forward from your frost date, and mark the name of that vegetable on the calendar in the corresponding date. Many of the plants will appear in the same week, as many have similar growing cycles.