Home Vegetable Garden Guide

Planting Seeds in the Garden

If your climate allows, starting seeds directly in your garden is the easiest and least expensive way to start your garden. Vegetables that will grow from seed in your climate will need to mature within the span of your growing season. These seedlings may take a bit longer to grow, which makes them more susceptible to weather conditions than transplanting from indoors. The key to successfully starting seeds directly in the garden is soil preparation.

Preparing Rows

There are as many different row arrangements as there are plants to choose from.

SINGLE ROWS: Planting in a single row is most common seed arrangement. This arrangement is easy to maintain, organize and allows plenty of space to attend and harvest vegetables if space properly.

WIDE ROWS: Vegetables such as beets, carrots, collards, kale, leaf lettuce, mustard, radishes, and spinach will benefit from wide rows as opposed to single rows. These types of rows should be no wider than 36" to make it easy to maintain and harvest vegetables. This also helps conserve space and water requirements.

TRENCH: Trench planting is beneficial to underground plants, and even tomato starter plants. Set up much like single rows, just dig the trench about a foot wide and deep.

INVERTED HILL: Opposite the trench, this method catches and holds extra moisture as well as directing any runoff to the center. Cucumbers, squash and other trailing vegetables benefit from planting in inverted hills. Create an inverted hill by removing an inch of soil from a circle about a foot across creating a shallow depression. Using the soil you've removed, form a rim around the circle. During heavy rainfall the rim falls inward, giving extra protection and anchorage to shallow rooted plants.

BLOCKS: Grouping vegetables in 18 - 36" blocks is also another method allowing easy access to plants.

Don't forget to allow plenty of space between rows or beds for walking and picking vegetables!

Sowing seeds

The seeds will only need enough soil to cover them and supply moisture for germination. Be careful not to bury the seeds too deeply. About 1/4 inch deep should suffice for most vegetable seeds. Sprinkle the seeds evenly into rows.

Spacing is critical to plant growth and yields. If plants are too close, they could produce little or no yield. It's fairly easy to maintain good spacing with larger seeds, but tiny seeds could be a little tricky. After germination, you may need to thin the rows to the proper plant spacing. See some spacing recommendations here.

Cover the seeds with soil and press lightly. Firming will improve contact between the seeds and moist soil. Cover the row with a thin layer of soil, straw, or loose compost to help keep the soil moist.