Starting From Seeds and How to Jumpstart Your Garden

Reader Contribution by James White
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There are a few reasons why starting from seed makes sense.

  • Starting from seed offers a wider variety of plants.

  • Growing from seed is cheaper.

  • Often produce higher quality harvest.

Start Indoors:

Get your garden going before the ground thaws by planting seeds indoors. With so many crops that are easy to germinate and sprout inside, why wait for the last frost of the year to pass before you start growing?

When choosing seeds for early start, make sure you pick plants that can handle some root disturbance so they’ll survive the transplant.

Plants started indoors tend to have a higher survival rate. Before transplanting, you need to harden off the seedlings. Do so by moving the containers to a shaded area with indirect sunlight for a few days, then put containers in the sun for one hour, then the next day a couple hours – gradually increasing their exposure to their new environment.

  • Broccoli

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Cabbage – Sown indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost.

  • Cauliflower

  • Cucumbers – Seedlings will be ready to transplant in a month, cucumbers will grow easily and quickly and one plant can produce a bunch of cucumbers so be sure to space well if you want multiple plants. If you don’t want to transplant just wait until the soil is warm and plant outside!

  • Tomatoes – Start indoors in February or March. When you transplant, plant deeply.

  • Basil – Possibly the easiest herb to grow in your garden. Basil and tomato are perfect for companion planting too. Basil will make your tomatoes taste better and also work to ward off bad bugs that would ruin your garden. So when you transplant your tomatoes, put basil in between your rows.

Start Outside:

These plants are ready to be sown outside once the weather is right. Read your seed packets for information on when to plant each crop but generally you want to wait until the last frost of the year has come. Need to clear out some space for a garden first? No worries, you can rent equipment to clear your land and till the soil to get you ready to plant.

  • Radishes – These fast growers are perfect for those who want to see results quickly before they get discouraged. If instant gratification is your style, radishes are the crop for you. Radishes germinate in just a few days and they’re ready to harvest in one month, great to plant in early spring when it may be too cold for other crops.

  • Squash – Fresh squash all cooked up in a casserole is one of my favorite parts of the season. Squash should grow easily and plentifully for you when your garden is tended correctly. Squash can be easily sown directly into soil.

  • Chard – A nutritious leafy green, this easy starter is something every newbie gardener should give a shot. Rainbow chard will also add a pop of color to your garden with the bright stalks – but the leafy part will still be green.

  • Beans – Soybeans, pole beans, lima beans, bush beans – almost any bean will grow and grow in abundance. Pick a variety and get planting!

  • Carrots – Carrots germinate easily and you can choose some colorful varieties that will please any little ones you have to feed. These root vegetables don’t like to be disturbed and as such are not well suited for starting indoors and then transplanting. Just sow directly in the soil. Carrots are cold-hardy so you can plant them early.

  • Salad leaves like a mesclun mix, arugula, or kale are pretty easy to get going and will provide you with fresh greens all summer. When I grow mesclun mix, I just take a pair of scissors and trim some leaves off to thin them out – and make a salad from them.

There are so many easy to grow vegetables that your family should be able to eat fresh and healthy all season long. Starting from seed may seem like more work than seedlings, but the extra effort will bring stronger and better quality plants – at a lower cost.

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