I have started germinating seeds indoors and they are starting to sprout. Once they have their true leaves I am planning to move them to 4" pots and still keep them indoors. I am growing different types of vegetables ranging from kale, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, zucchini, melons, carrots, etc. I live in the San Francisco/Bay area. My question is related to the timing of moving these young plants outdoors into a raised bed. Is there a guide that tells me when it would be safe to move these plants outdoors given the general weather conditions in my area. For example, I have heard that kale, lettuce and root vegetables can be grown in cold weather so those would be safe to move out any time. Others have to wait until the last frost. A definite guide would be helpful to refer to for now and future years.

  • You are growing carrots in pots and plan to transplant them?
    – Stephie
    Feb 24, 2016 at 21:15
  • Yes I have put carrot seeds (among others) in a 1"x1" area. It is sprouting and my plan is to transplant them to a 4" pot and then finally move them outdoors in a raised bed? Are you saying it is a bad idea in general or a bad idea for carrots?
    – JStorage
    Feb 24, 2016 at 21:17
  • I'm not a pro, but I never transplanted carrots (and other root veggies like beets only with limited success). Starting the other ones is perfectly fine.
    – Stephie
    Feb 24, 2016 at 21:19
  • Thanks. I have never done this either and is my first time with planting them indoors since they don't sprout outdoors (not in this temperature any ways). Let's see what other experts have to say about this and my other question regarding moving them outdoors
    – JStorage
    Feb 24, 2016 at 21:21

1 Answer 1


You can get the average last frost date for your area from various sources, such as this one from UC Ag Extension, or one I cannot seem to find for your area from the National Weather Service.

What that means in any given year is somewhat variable. If you also keep your own records you can in some cases infer patterns from the relationship of the published data to your precise location/microclimate - but to some extent it's always a bit of a dice roll, and having some reserve plants a few weeks behind the earliest ones that you can plant if you need them (due to killing the earliest ones when the weather turns harsh off schedule), or give away if you don't is often a good idea.

Waiting until there's no possibility of frost is also being delayed in roughly half the years when the last frost date is earlier than average. Planting everything on the average last frost date is asking to get whacked in half the years when it's a bit later. The linked page has 10% dates as well, but at least in the colder regions we usually throw a few out there early in case the year is mild, and they'll have a head start, and save a few in case it turns out nasty, with a certain dose of trying to prognosticate the particular year from whatever information we can glean.

You can also do a lot with "floating row cover" or other means (wall-of-water, covering at night with buckets, etc.) of mediating slight dips below frost/freeze temperatures.

Carrots, for instance, transplant poorly (IME) and take cold well, so getting those (or some of those - succession planting works) planted out there sooner rather than later may be beneficial. You may want to direct seed some and compare with your transplants (see if your experience indicates that you'd want to transplant, or not, in future years.)

  • Thanks. Part 2 of my question was how to determine which of my vegetables can take cold well? As you point out, carrots can go out before the frost date. How about lettuce, kale, green onions, etc. Is there a resource that points out which vegetable plants can handle cold vs. not?
    – JStorage
    Feb 24, 2016 at 23:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.