Best Seeds to Start Indoors or Direct Sow

Best Seeds to Start Indoors or Direct Sow
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Best Seeds to Start Indoors or Direct Sow

Best Seeds to Start Indoors or Direct Sow

Which seeds can be sown in the garden and which ones will need to be started indoors and transplanted later? Read on for a complete list.

Starting a garden from seeds is one of the smartest decisions you can make for your garden. You’ll cut down significantly on costs and you’ll have a wider selection of plants to choose from. Talk about a win-win! Once you’ve made the decision to plant your garden with seeds instead of transplants, you need to decide which ones to plant. You’ll also need to decide whether you can sow them straight into your garden or if you need to start them inside.

Seeds to Start Indoors

Some plants grow best in cooler weather, but can’t handle a deep cold. Other plants have a longer growing season and therefore can benefit from a head start indoors before being planted outside in your garden. Starting seeds indoors is the perfect way to give your garden a strong start. Seeds started indoors will also produce blooms or fruit before the same seeds that are direct sown into the garden.

Vegetables to Start Indoors

Some vegetables are tender and should be started inside while the cold is too harsh for them. They can later be transplanted outside once the temperatures warm slightly. Some vegetables have a root system that takes longer to develop. These plants can benefit greatly from being started indoors.

The best vegetables to start indoors are:

Herbs and Flowers to Start Indoors

Nearly all herbs can be started successfully indoors. In fact, many herbs can be grown indoors completely. If your garden bed is large enough, you can transplant your herbs outdoors once the weather warms. Many annual flowers should be started indoors if you want to enjoy the blooms once the weather warms. Flowers can take longer to start blooming than you may expect when you start them from seeds. Starting them indoors will give them time to grow and mature before you transplant them outdoors. Plan on starting flowers indoors at least 6-8 weeks before you plan to plant them.

The best flowers and herbs to start indoors are:

direct sowing seedsdirect sowing seeds

Seeds to Direct Sow

In a perfect world, we could just sow all of our seeds outdoors, straight into the garden soil, and we would have lush plants that emerge in just a few short weeks. You might be eager to get your hands dirty and start all of your seeds indoors. However, not all plants can handle being moved or transplanted well. Some plants don’t adjust well when you disrupt the root system or growing environment. Because of this, you’ll need to wait until you can start some seeds outside, directly in the garden.

When you direct sow seeds into the ground, make sure that you space your seeds out accordingly. Park Seed’s superior germination means you can plant seeds singly. If not, you want to plan on a few that won’t come up. Plant two seeds per space and if you need to thin them back later, you can by pinching the top of the seedling off that you don’t want to grow. Don’t attempt to thin seedlings by pulling one up by the roots. This can damage the roots of the plant that you want to keep.

Plant seeds at the suggested depth that you find on the back of the seed packet. If you don’t have a seed packet, sow the seeds at a depth that is twice the length of the seed. For example, an okra seed is approximately one quarter inch wide. An okra seed should be sown to a depth of about half an inch.

Vegetables to Direct Sow

As a general rule, vegetables with a large seed are well-suited to being directly sown outside. These seeds usually germinate rapidly. They also have roots that are easily shocked when you transplant them, so it’s best to directly sow them into the garden. Root vegetables should be started directly in the soil they’ll be growing in as you don’t want to cramp up their growing space (even early on) or shock the root.

The best vegetables to direct sow are:

Herbs and Flowers to Direct Sow

Although many herbs and flowers do well when started indoors, some herbs and flowers thrive when direct sown outside. Similar to vegetables, some flowers and herbs don’t react well when they are transplanted. Herbs that have a sensitive root system should be directly sown outdoors. Many of these direct sow flowers and herbs will reseed themselves if you leave the seed heads on, ensuring plenty of blooms for the future.

A word of caution: When you direct sow herbs and flowers, do so only after the threat of frost has passed. Most herbs and flowers are tender and cannot handle a frost. Only direct sow them once the weather has warmed enough for the fear of frost to be behind you.

Learn more about frost-hardy vegetables.

Herbs to Direct Sow:

Flowers to Direct Sow:

A Note About Starting Seeds

This is meant to give you an idea of what you can sow directly into the garden and what you should start indoors. Use this information as a starting point. Your frost date and growing season will affect what plants you should start indoors. If you have a short growing season, you’ll want to start more of your plants indoors so that they have a head start before being planted outside.

Learn more about frost-hardy vegetables.

Some plants will grow equally well when started indoors or direct sown. In southern climates, cucumbers can be directly sown into the ground or started indoors with other plants. Large crops will often quickly outgrow a small cell for a seedling when started indoors. Squash, corn and some beans will rapidly outgrow a seedling cell if you start them indoors. In the cases where starting indoors is necessary due to a short outdoor growing season, start these seeds in larger cells or containers to prevent the seedling from outgrowing the cell or becoming root bound. A larger cell will also help to reduce any shock or damage that the root system experiences when you transplant them.

All seedlings started indoors should be hardened off before moving them outdoors. Hardening off is a process that should span over a two week period. During this time, stop fertilizing your seedlings. Gradually introduce the plants to natural sunlight and outdoor temperatures. Start by bringing the seedlings into the shade and slowly move them into direct sunlight over the two weeks. Transplant seedlings on a shady day if possible for the best results.

This post was written by Shelby DeVore, the founder of Farminence and the host of the Backyard Vegetable Gardener’s Summit. Shelby is a passionate gardener with 20+ years of experience gardening and growing food at home. She recently moved to north Texas with her husband and three children where she’s excited to explore a new gardening zone and build a new farm.