Which crops can be planted from seed directly in garden with no indoor seed starting?
That’s a common question with beginning gardeners. Along with the excitement of growing a new garden, an unwelcome but familiar emotion usually comes along: fear. What if it doesn’t work? What if I don’t know enough? What if I fail?
Fear, I think, is one reason many beginning gardeners believe they should not attempt growing vegetables from seed — at least not yet. Instead, they plan to purchase all of their crops as transplants from the garden center.
I get it because I felt the same way. In fact, in the very first garden my husband and I grew — two raised beds — we did not plant a single seed.
But after I learned more about how to grow my own food, I realized the benefits of growing particular crops from seed. Many of these aren’t only a matter of “I can grow these from seed” but they’re really a matter of “I should grow these from seed” — at least in my opinion.
In today’s episode of the Beginner’s Garden Podcast (and blog post below), I talk about six vegetables and fruit I believe you should almost always grow from seed directly in the garden. No indoor seed starting. No buying transplants. With these crops, it’s my experience and opinion that these seeds should go directly in the ground.
6 Crops You Should Grow From Seed Directly In the Garden
Beans do not like to be transplanted. They want to settle in their permanent home from the beginning. Plus, when you plant them at the right time — when the soil temperature gets up to 75F — they are so easy! Don’t waste your money or your time planting them any other way. Learn more about green been varieties to consider.
Corn, like beans, prefer to make their home in their permanent location. And also like beans, to get a good corn crop, you need at the minimum sixteen plants to ensure proper pollination, but most likely you’ll plant more. So it really is an economical decision to purchase and plant corn from seed directly in the garden.
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Squash and Zucchini
While you can plant squash and zucchini transplants, I have to ask, “why?” These crops go through a transplant shock when relocated, especially if you plant them in the ground too early in the season. And in many cases, if you plant the seeds and a transplant at the same time, the one planted from seed directly in the garden will catch up to the growth of the transplant, and it may even produce a better harvest because it didn’t go through the stress that the transplant did.
If you do have to start squash or zucchini indoors for specific reasons — to beat the squash vine borer for instance — here are some tips.
- Plan your sowing date carefully. Plant indoors 2-3 weeks before your average first frost and plant out as soon as the last frost has passed. They will suffer if they stay in their container too long.
- Consider using soil blocking or peat pellets to limit the transplant shock.
Cucumbers and Melons
Cousins of squash and zucchini, cucumbers and melons also do not like to be transplanted, and I have found cucumbers to be particularly fussy when it comes to transplanting. One of my first seasons, I started cucumber seeds indoors only to have them die on me as soon as I transplanted them outside. I was crushed, but I learned my lesson.
And while melons may fare a bit better when transplanted — plant them in a deep container — they sprout quickly in the warm garden soil and grow fast. It’s just easier to grow both of these crops from seed directly in the garden.
How to Successfully Planting Seeds in the Garden
To plant these crops and others directly in the garden with success, you have to consider the soil temperature. If seeds are planted before the soil has warmed up to their preference, they won’t germinate well. You may find a few popping up but you will have wasted a lot of seed. Instead, wait until the soil has warmed.
How do you know your soil temperature? My favorite method is by using the soil thermometer.
Then you have to know the ideal temperature each seed prefers. I’ve created a Seed Starting Quick Reference Guide that gives you the ideal soil temperature each of the crops above plus a few others prefer.
Other References to Help You Plant from Seed in the Garden:
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