We have talked a lot about seed starting over the last few months. You have seen our seeds sprout, grow into strong little seedlings and make their way to their permanent garden home. Starting seeds indoors give your plants the best chance of a healthy survival. However, there are plenty of plants out there that really do best when you direct sow them outside into their final home. Direct sowing requires no transplanting and can be less expensive than starting your seeds indoors. Direct sowing is also great for those getting a late start on their garden.
Plants that do well for direct sowing will often be the same plants you will have difficulty finding as transplants at your garden center. The garden center will however generally carry a range of greens; at our local center we found collards, mustard greens, kale, black seed simpson lettuce and a few more.
While direct sowing your seeds does not require any of the additional equipment that indoor seed starting requires there are still a few things to consider before planting your seeds. You will want to make sure your soil is fully prepped. Mixing compost into the soil to renew nutrients is recommended. If you do not have compost use an organic fertilizer such as Dr. Earth Vegetable, Fruit and Herb Fertilizer.
Soil temperatures are important whether starting your seeds indoors or direct sowing them outdoors. Indoors it is easy to control temperatures with lights and heating pads, while outdoors it is all about timing. Direct sowing of seeds such as carrots, radishes, leaf lettuce, and collards should be planted just a few weeks before the last spring frost. For swiss chard, summer squash, watermelons and pumpkins you will want to wait until a few weeks after the last frost when the soil has had a chance to warm a bit. If you are getting a late start on your garden pumpkins, squash, beans and more can all be planted much later in the season giving you a little extra time.
When planning when you will plant your seeds remember to look at the ‘days to harvest’ number which is generally listed on the back of the seed packet. These numbers can vary greatly, for instance if you are planting winter squash it is important to remember that they can take up to 110 days to harvest so unless you have a long growing season plant these early.
Always remember to plant for your soil not yourself. This means if you have rocky clay soil then you will want to avoid most carrot varieties and poppies both of which require well draining loamy soil. Cabbage, broccoli, and sunflowers on the other hand will do just fine in soil heavy in clay.
Direct sowing is also great for succession planting. Succession planting allows you to plant a crop every few days or weeks so that you have a continuous harvest throughout the growing season. For example, radishes which are quick growers should be planted every 10 days while summer squash which has a much slower growth rate would be planted every 3 weeks.
While starting your garden from seed can be a little intimidating direct sowing is perfect for the beginner gardener. Direct sowing requires little up front cost and with the proper garden prep a high success rate.
Seeds perfect for direct sowing:
Bells of Ireland
Greens- lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, ect…
Squash- zucchini, spaghetti squash, yellow squash, winter, acorn, ect..
Melons- cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, ect…
What seeds do you like to direct sow in your garden?