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FutureStarrHow to Plant Seeds in Soil Outdoors
Have a Plan. Know where each vegetable will go. For example, consider which vegetables need shade and which vegetables are tall so they do not shade shorter plants. Also, plant so that you can reach the center of the row or bed easily enough to weed, water, and harvest. Provide permanent beds for perennial crops such as rhubarb, asparagus, and some herbs. Remember, you can plant cool-season crops in the same place as warm-season crops later in the season, based on the vegetable’s days to maturity (on the seed packet). Try our Garden Planner to plan your garden for success.
Use Quality Seed. Seeds do have a shelf life, and while you can often get away with using older seeds, just be prepared for lower germination rates. Use fresh seed from a reputable company for the best results. See our list of reputable seed soures. Also, if you save you own seeds, do not save seeds from hybrid plants. Most hybrid plants will not be “true” to their parent type, so you could end up with a completely different (and possibly disappointing) fruit or flower. See more about saving vegetable seeds. Prepping Warm-Season Crops. Before planting warm-season crops, especially cucurbits, you can warm the soil with different techniques, such as forming a mound or hill and/or using black plastic. To form a hill, mound soil to make a low, broad hill about 8 to 10 inches high. Lay any black plastic on the soil surface as early as possible in the spring. Simply cut a hole in the plastic in the area where you want a plant to be located; the plastic will keep the soil warmer and suppress weeds around the plant. Learn more about warming the soil.
Make sure the seed bed is evenly moist before and after germination. Not watering can delay germination for a week or more. Use the mist setting on your watering wand so you don’t wash the seeds away or you might end up with clusters of plants and bare spots. Fortunately, even if that happens, it can be remedied. Find out how to transplant seedlings in the garden for a fuller garden bed. Continue to mist until the tiny plants have a couple sets of leaves, usually in two or three weeks. Then you can start using heavier flow settings.It's not a good idea to move your seedlings directly from the protected environment of your home into the garden. You've been coddling these seedlings for weeks, so they need a gradual transition to the great outdoors. The process is called hardening off. About a week before you plan to set the seedlings into the garden, place them in a protected spot outdoors (partly shaded, out of the wind) for a few hours, bringing them in at night. Gradually, over the course of a week or 10 days, expose them to more and more sunshine and wind. A cold frame is a great place to harden off plants. (Source: www.gardeners.com)