Sowing seeds in the ground is the method of growing your plants from seed sown right in the garden
There are no special equipments and pots needed. You don’t even have to worry about transplanting and the related risk of transplant shock or hardening your plants off.
Although it is no longer preferred by flower gardeners, who instead prefer to purchase blooming transplants, direct sowing is still fairly common in vegetable gardening. Planting seeds directly will save you money. A package of 25 seeds costs about what you would pay for one transplant in a 4-inch pot.
Direct seeding also opens up your choices tremendously. Look how few cucumber varieties are offered as transplants compared with how many varieties are available at the seed rack or from online seed companies.
Moreover, certain plants do best only when sown directly in the garden because they have delicate root systems that make successful transplantation from containers/pots difficult. Few such plants are:
That said, direct sowing is not a fool-proof method that can be used to grow any plant. Plants that require a long growing season won’t perform well when directly-sown in cool-weather regions. These include tomatoes, capsicum, and eggplants. Such plants require very specific germination conditions and are perform best when started indoors.
There are three methods you can use while sowing seeds directly into the ground: the trough method, broadcasting and the hill method. The method you use will depend on the type of seed you are sowing. Check the back of your seed packet if you unsure which method to use.
The Trough/Drill method:
In gardening, a drill is a straight row of plants. Once a bed is prepared, a straight, shallow trench is created. This is the most common way vegetables are direct-seeded.
- Dig a trench about 1-1/4 inches deep using the handle end of a tool such as a rake or hoe or your fingers.
- Sprinkle the seeds lightly and evenly along the length of the trench. Check the instruction on seed cover to know how deeply and far apart the seeds must be sown.
- Gently push a thin layer of soil over the seeds to close up the trench you just dug.
- Water the seeds gently so they’re evenly moist.
When your seedlings start to sprout, they will need to be thinned. Remove the weaker seedlings and leave behind the strongest. Planting more seeds makes sure you get plenty of seedlings from the first planting and eliminates the need to go back and plant more seeds to fill in gaps.
This technique is more commonly used with cool-season vegetables such as root crops (carrot, radish, turnip) or greens (mustard, lettuce). Seeds are simply scattered evenly over a prepared bed. Two to three times as many seeds are scattered as plants desired. When the seeds germinate, the seedlings are thinned to the proper spacing.
The Hill method:
- Build mounds of soil roughly 1-1/2 feet in diameter and 6 inches high. Space them 3 to 6 feet apart, depending on what is being grown
- Using your finger, poke three or four small holes, about two inches apart, in the top of the mound
- Plant one seed per hole
- Water the mounds gently once the seeds are planted
- After the seeds have germinated, they will need to be thinned. Select one or two of the strongest seedlings to leave behind and remove the weaker ones.
Piling the soil into a mound ensures that it will heat up quickly, which can be beneficial for seeds that need very warm soil to germinate. If you are using raised beds, you don’t need to sow your seeds into mounds since the soil is already elevated off the ground.
Be sure the seeds you buy are fresh; they should be dated for the current year. Direct-sown vegetables will take a week or two to sprout, depending on the weather conditions, so don’t despair if you don’t see any action for a while. Just keep a close watch on your garden for the first hints of green.
Finally, watching a plant grow from an apparently lifeless seed into a healthy, beautiful, productive plant is one of gardening’s greatest pleasures. It is one of the few things that give a gardener a great sense of accomplishment. So, consider doing some direct seeding as you plant your vegetables this year.