Garden Seeds – Planting Outdoors

Seeds need properly prepared soil, moisture, plenty of air, and mild temperatures (at least 45 degrees F) in order to grow. Presuming you have double-tilled – and hopefully raised – your garden bed, removed chunks of debris, and smoothed the soil with your garden rake, then your soil is ready. If your soil is dry, water it thoroughly about an hour before you intend to plant your seeds in order for it to drain. Use a fine spray so that you don’t have to go back and re-smooth the soil. You don’t want it water-logged, just good and moist.

There are a few different ways you can plant vegetable seeds:

Rows

Get out your wooden stakes, string, and garden hoe. Consult your seed packets for planting depths as well as the recommended space between rows. Mark off the rows with the wooden stakes and string, and use a tip of the hoe to dig a shallow furrow along the string line. Your seeds will go in this furrow.

Very small seeds will drive you crazy if you try to plant them one at a time. The best way to plant them is to pour a handful into your palm (or a small bowl) and simply reach in with your thumb and two fingers and grab a pinch of seeds. Move slowly along the row, rubbing your thumb and fingers together to distribute the seeds evenly. You will obviously have to thin the plants after they have grown a bit, but this is much easier than planting what looks like a grain of salt at a time. Use the flat side of the hoe to gently cover the seeds.

Larger seeds are easier to plant at the proper intervals, and we recommend planting 2 or 3 seeds together, to ensure that at least one of them germinates. Once they have grown a bit, you can thin the weaker of the group and allow the strongest one to continue growing. A good yardstick is useful with the larger seeds. Simply lay it alongside your furrow as you go along planting in order to ensure that you are sowing the seeds at the proper intervals. Again, use the flat side of your hoe to cover the seeds.

Broadcasting

This method is particularly useful for such crops as lettuce and other salad greens. Simply scatter the seeds evenly over a chosen block of prepared soil, then lightly rake the seeds into the soil. The plants will need to be thinned once they have grown substantially, but this is an excellent way to keep soil germs off of your salad greens, as the lowest leaves of the plants will form sort of a “carpet” of greenery above the soil. If you get a lot of rain, you will appreciate not having mud splashed all over your salad. It will also help keep the weeds down.

Label Your Garden

Metal garden markers (available for purchase by clicking the link below) that you can re-use each year are far better than scribbling on a wooden stick and jamming it in the ground. Write what you planted and the date to mark your rows or blocks. Save your seed packets for your garden journal!

Protect Your Seeds

Be ready with your garden fabric (available for purchase by clicking on the link below) or wire mesh cages, and cover your freshly-planted seed beds as soon as you are done. You have just set up a smorgasbord for the birds in your neighborhood, and you will need to keep them OFF your seed beds to give your plants a chance to grow.

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