Direct seeding or direct sowing means planting seeds into prepared garden beds outdoors.
At the Teaching Garden, we have a cold winter and often prefer to get a jumpstart on the season by starting some plants indoors and then transplanting them outside. However, there are seeds that germinate at cooler temperatures, known as ‘cold crops’, including kale, peas, radishes, and spinach – just to name a few.
There are also many crops that prefer to be direct sown, usually because they don’t tolerate the stress of being moved once their roots begin to grow.
At the Teaching Garden we direct sow: - Root vegetables (beets, carrots, radishes) - Salad greens (lettuce, mustard greens, arugula) - Peas and beans (snap peas, green beans, soy beans)
For example, Shawn direct seeded peas in our garden today. Peas are a cool season crop; they grow well in the spring and fall but not in the summer. When production on these peas slows down, we will remove the pea plants and use this bed for bok choy. There are many more plants that you can choose to direct sow including cucumbers, squash, corn, many flowers, kale, and broccoli. If you choose to direct sow these crops, make sure your soil temperature matches the recommended temperature on your seed packet and consider covering the planted area with row cover to discourage birds from eating your seeds before they germinate. Remember that in early spring, soil temperature is often lower than air temperature – especially if the soil is wet. Check out your seed packet – likely it will give you valuable information including when to plant your seeds, how deep, and how far apart. If your seed packet mentions a last frost date (or a first frost date) you can look that up here using your zip code: https://www.almanac.com/gardening/frostdates
Click on the pictures of the seed packets above to see an example of that important information you can find on most seed packets. If you have a seed packet that doesn't have any of this information you can always check google!
It can be difficult to place smaller seeds exactly where you’d like them to grow, so the packet may mention thinning the seedlings after they sprout. Don’t worry, keep an eye on our blog and we will give you simple thinning instructions!
Just like seed starting indoors, remember to label what you planted where, and when!