Knowing how to plant vegetable seeds is one of the first lessons a newbie gardener should have. Whether the seeds are for vegetable or flower production there are some processes that help maximise your success and help you achieve incredible results.
Most people have had some experience with seeds even before they start planting them in their own gardens. Science lessons at school often incorporate some activity that involves raising seeds and usually includes a piece of cotton wool, a plate and a sunlit ledge. And here are the very basics: seeds need a growing medium, sunlight and moisture – with a little bit of nutrient thrown in to help them grow their best.
If a gardener wants to grow their own vegetables, where should they start? The obvious place is with the seeds themself.
Difference between organic and non-organic vegetable seeds
If you want to give your vegetable garden the very best start then opting for organic vegetable seeds over non-organic is certainly a great beginning. Organic seed, the type that’s been certified by a neutral body according to stringent standards, offers the gardener some guarantees that the seed will produce and reproduce as expected.
In some cases, non-organic seeds can be sterile, contain GMO’s, or just have low germination rates. Their origins may be hard to determine and you can never guarantee that they will produce as expected.
If a seed packet claims to be “organic” take the time to ensure that it carries a certification logo and is listed as an organic product on the standards list.
You can check these out here;
- Australia – Australia Certified Organic
- Canada – Canadian Organic Growers [Link since removed]
- UK – The Soil Association this site doesn’t offer a directory of seed producers but hosts a great deal of very useful information for UK residents
- USA – Agricultural Marketing Service this site, like the UK option, doesn’t offer a directory of seed producers but has some very helpful organic information.
Direct sowing vegetable seeds vs seed-raising
Now that you have your organic vegetable seeds, the idea is to get them planted and growing. However, should you plant them directly in the soil or raise them in seedling trays?
The only reason you wouldn’t plant seeds directly in the soil is due to the current season and warmth of the soil. Raising seeds in seedling trays give you the option to pre-grow your seeds ready for the seasonal change. It means you can give your seeds a head-start before the soil begins to warm.
Many vegetable seeds such as tomatoes, capsicums (peppers), eggplant, lettuces, cabbages, and even alliums (onions, leeks etc) can be started this way.
How to plant vegetable seeds directly into the soil?
Planting seeds directly into the soil is a very easy process and once your soil has been prepared and ready to accept the seeds, it’s quite simply to get them in and growing. Here’s some steps to get them started;
- Create the drill or holes – seeds such as carrots, parsnips and lettuces are best grown in drills. A drill can be created simply by placing a hoe handle in the soil and pushing down to create an indent deep enough to accomodate the seeds. Others, like beans or garlic cloves, require a hole to be placed in the soil where each of the seeds can be placed.
- Mix the seed with some dry river sand in a glass jar – this is a great tip for sowing vegetable seeds. Half fill a small glass jar with river sand and then add the seeds. Shake until the two are mixed together well and then drill a hole in the lid. Then this can be poured out along the drill to give an even distribution of seed and means than you don’t have to waste as much when it comes to thinning them out.
- Fill the drill or hole – once the drill is filled with the seeds use two fingers to run along the side of the drill forcing the soil to cover the seeds without disturbing them. In the case of seeds planted inside a hole these can just simply be covered with soil.
- Apply some bonemeal fertiliser – be generous in your application of some blood ‘n bone (bonemeal) as this will offer many of the nutrients needed for these seeds as they start their life.
- Water well – once the seeds are in and fertilised they can be watered in to give them a good start and the moisture they require.
Once the seeds begin to germinate and grow
Now that your vegetable seeds have successfully germinated the focus turns its attention on keeping these plants growing well and eventually producing bountiful yields.
There are many factors that will try to stop you achieving this namely pests, lack of nutrient, care and moisture. To get the most out of your vegetable seeds you will need to continually care for them. They will need regular feedings of fertiliser (preferably a foliar spray every 2-4 weeks), daily watering and the occasional spray of an organic pesticide.
And there you have it, now you know the basics of planting vegetable seeds.
Photo source: geishaboy500