Starting your garden from seeds is a great way to save money, grow interesting varieties you can't find in the nursery, and can be a rewarding experience. When just starting out, gardeners tend to learn by trial and error. In fact much of gardening is figured out that way because everyone has different soil, light, and weather conditions. So one thing might work great for one gardener and it might not work so well with the next. That being said, there are a few things that can be universal to most gardens.
Today I want to talk about what seeds do better when started directly outdoors vs starting inside in a pot.
- Corn- top of the list. Partially because they are so easy to start out doors, and grow so quickly that why bother starting and transplanting? But also those big seeds don't like to be transplanted and will more likely get transplant shock and possibly die when transplanted. Rather to get a head start on them, I soak and then sprout them just slightly before planting them. This gives them a better chance of growing. Soak for a day or so or until they no longer look shriveled up. Then sprout them in a sprout-er, or covered with a damp paper towel. Making sure to moisten them about twice a day. Extra tip: try growing pop corn- So fun!!
- Peas and Beans. Also being such big seeds they just don't do well when transplanted. I use the same method of sprouting before planting directly outdoors. It speeds up their growth and you also know which seeds are duds and which ones not to plant by sprouting. Plant right after they start to open up- don't wait too long. Its a good idea to have the garden bed where they are going to be planted ready before hand so that you are not scrambling to get it ready when the seeds are.
- Carrots, radishes, onions, beets- actually lets group all root veggies in here. Root veggies grow mostly a big tap root and very little side roots, thus the soil around them will not be held together much when planting, thus makes it hard to transplant. Onions do ok if they are transplanted very young as they act a little bit like a grass right at first. But they grow so well just directly planted even in early spring, that I don't bother planting indoors. You can ever through some onion seeds out in the fall and as soon as the conditions are right, the onions will just start growing themselves. Its fun when you see little baby onions poking up through the snow!
- Squash family plants. This one is a little bit tricky. In our area, it actually is best to start them indoors, and CAREFULLY transplant being sure not to disturb the roots. But the key to this is not to start them too early. Generally 2-3 weeks before the last frost. Then plant outdoors after the last frost. You want them very small and immature when planting outdoors or else they will directly die or get transplant shock so bad it stunts their growth. They like it warm, so putting them in a wall of water or a hot cap over the top of them might help speed up their growth. They do well when directly sown outdoors, just need to make sure the soil temperature is warm enough for them. One of the things we have to watch out for in our garden, is those tender, tasty little plants get gobbled up in one bite by snails and slugs. The whole plant disappears! So be sure to bait or prevent snails from eating your little plant before it even has a chance.
There you go! Now I only know all this because I learned from my experience. So if you have found that something works for you, PLEASE share, it might help someone out there! Happy Gardening!