Now that spring is upon us, I can’t wait to get out in the vegetable garden and get things growing! If you are new to gardening and/or growing veggies from seed for the first time here are some basic tips for planting vegetable seeds.
For starters, select the crops you want to grow based on what you and your family love to eat!
Next, time your plantings carefully by getting to know your crop’s optimal growing conditions. Vegetables can be divide into two basic groups: warm season and cool season crops. Knowing which crop belongs in which category will save you time, money, frustration and increase your overall success. In general, cool season crops have varying degrees of frost hardiness (In fact, frost can enhance the flavor of some cool season crops like kale!) and thrive when air temperatures are 75°F or less. As a result, these seeds can be planted early in spring when soil temperatures are as low as 35°F to 45°F.
Here is a comprehensive list of cool season crops:
Carrot Chinese Cabbage
Warm season crops, on the other hand, cannot tolerate frost and need soil temperatures 60°F or above to germinate. These crops generally have to wait to be planted late spring or early summer once the danger of frost has past. Their optimal growing temperatures are when day time highs are above 75°F. In short season climates, success comes with these crops by starting seedlings indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. Transplants can shorten days to harvest before the frost kills your plants in fall.
The following crops are considered warm season crops:
Beans (pole, bush, lima, tepary, yard long)
Black-eyed peas Corn
Winter (pumpkins) and summer squash
Once you have selected your favorite crops and know when to plant in your local climate, follow these steps to plant your seeds:
1. Layout your planting areas in rows or in a hexagonal planting scheme.
2. Adjust your layout based on the spacing needs for each crop. This information can be found on seed packets or by visualizing the mature plant’s growth.
3. Select the individual seeds to plant by looking for ones that are plump and full sized, not thin, holey, or shriveled.
4. Make small holes or depressions in the soil at the correct seed depth for the crop. Again, this information can be found on the seed packet.
5. Gently place the seed in the hole and lightly cover with soil as you go.
6. After all seeds are planted, grade the soil to create a level surface so that water will soak in evenly.
7. Hand water after planting with a gentle spray making sure not to wash small seeds away.
8. Until the seeds sprout, check your plantings daily and water as needed in order to keep the soil moist like a wrung out sponge. If germinating seedlings dry out for even a short period, they can perish.
9. On average, seedlings should emerge in 7-14 days.
Here’s a step-by-step video on how to plant vegetable seeds
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