Sowing Vegetable Seedlings Outdoors

Sowing vegetable seedlings is something I haven’t done in years. The reason being my lack of patience. I prefer buy the starts and transplant them into the ground.

While some (if not most) vegetables can be grown like this, others do better from seeds. So you shouldn’t write-off growing vegetable seeds from your gardening activities.

Today I’m going to talk about what I’ve learnt about growing seeds. I hope you find it interesting and informative.

Getting Started...Growing Garden Vegetable Seeds Outdoors

The golden rules of seedling production are:

  • Not too early
  • Not too deep
  • Not too thick

Not Too Early

Planting seeds too early is disastrous. Seeds need heat to grow. In fact they need 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit to germinate successfully. Therefore sowing seeds too early will cause a low germination rate. The seeds will freeze and become sterile.

But don’t worry here are the best times for planting seedlings outdoors for a variety of crops...

Sowing in February

  • Jerusalem Artichokes
  • Onions (last week in February)
  • Rhubarb (mid February)

Sowing in March

  • Jerusalem Artichokes
  • Broad Beans
  • Brussel Sprouts (mid March)
  • Leek (mid March)
  • Summer and Autumn Lettuce (late March)
  • Onions and Shallots (mid March)
  • Parsnips
  • June and July Peas (Should be sown in mid March)
  • Radish (Mid March
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach (mid March)
  • Turnips

Sowing in April

  • Globe Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Broad Beans
  • Beet (for leaves)
  • Beet Root (mid April)
  • Broccoli (mid April)
  • Brussels Sprouts (early April to mid April)
  • Summer Cabbage Variety
  • Red Cabbage Variety
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Endive (mid April)
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Leek (from early April to mid April)
  • Summer and Autumn Lettuce
  • Onion and Shallots(don’t sow seeds after mid April)
  • Potatoes
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Turnip

Best Seeds to Sow in May

  • French Beans (sow from the second week in May)
  • Runner beans (sow from mid May)
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli (don’t sow after the second week of May)
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower (don’t sow after the second week of May)
  • Chicory
  • Endive
  • Kale
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Lettuce
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Swede
  • Sweet Corn (mid May)

Vegetable Seedlings that are Best Sown in June

  • French Beans
  • Runner Beans
  • Beetroot
  • Carrot
  • Chicory
  • Cucumbers
  • Endive
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Lettuce
  • Swede

Notice that some seeds can be sown in more than one month (Carrots, endive and lettuce for example) and others can be sown at the middle of one month and roll-over into the other.

This calendar is just a rough guide. Remember your soil and local climate may be different. Thus it is wise to buy a gardening calendar that is specific to your state, city or area.

Not too Deep

You also don’t want to sow seeds to deep. Smaller seeds (especially) will die before they make it to the surface if sown too deep.

So what is the proper depth? Well here are a few examples of hoe deep vegetable seedlings should be sown...

  • Jerusalem Artichokes – 6 inches deep
  • Beans – 2 inches deep
  • Beetroot – 1 inch deep
  • Broccoli – ½ inch deep
  • Brussels Sprout – ½ inch deep
  • Cabbage – ½ inch deep
  • Carrots – ½ inch deep
  • Sweet Corn – 1 inch deep

Not Too Thick

Finally you also want to avoid vegetable seedlings being planted too thick. If this is done then the crops will compete with each other for water, soil space, nutrients and sunlight.

This will decrease your yield. The weaker plants will not survive. Only the fittest of the fittest will survive.

So put some space between the plants. Here’s a guide to spacing some of the plants....

  • Jerusalem Artichokes – 18 inches apart
  • Broad Beans – 8 inches apart
  • French Beans – 4 inches apart
  • Runner Beans – 9 inches apart
  • Beetroot – 2 seeds per hole and each hole 4 inches apart

Those seeds above are larger seeds. But smaller seeds require a different technique when sowing them.

I recommend placing the small seeds in the palm of your hand and gently sprinkle the seeds across the bed. Use your thumb and forefinger to sprinkle.


Final Word

So above were the basics for sowing vegetable seeds in your garden. Of course there are other basics like lining up the garden bed and watering techniques.

But these techniques are minor and not as important as knowing when to plant, how deep to plant and how far apart the seeds should be.

I hope the information and instructions about planting vegetable seedlings outdoor was helpful. And I wish you all the best in your vegetable garden.

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