Planning a Vegetable Garden

Planning a Vegetable Garden

One of the decisions to be made at vegetable planting time is whether to start seeds indoors and transplant the baby plants, or to sow seed directly in the garden and let it sprout where it will grow to maturity. While there some plants that are better suited for one or the other process, there is also a lot of gardener’s prerogative involved.

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Generally root crops are most successful when sowed directly in the garden. Carrots, beets, turnips, and others do not transplant well due to the potential for damaging the baby roots. Onions provide a rule breaker, in fact onion sets and transplants are readily available alongside garden seeds in early spring. Also potatoes and sweet potatoes, which are not grown from seeds in the first place would break the rule.

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Asparagus is a perennial bulb and stem vegetable that greets us every spring.

All of the various types of greens can go either way, depending time of year and the goal. Many varieties germinate well in spring’s cool garden soil, however for a fall crop, it may be necessary to start indoors while the garden bed is too hot, then transplant a few weeks later. Another set of crops that can perform well either way are the “three sisters” corn, beans, and squash. While they are naturally well adapted to most of North America without a head start, the season can be extended by starting the earliest varieties indoors a few weeks ahead of good weather.

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Spinach prefers cooler soil temps for germination.

Some vegetables that nearly always require indoor starts include tomatoes, peppers, and eggpants. Due to their temperature needs for germination as well as fruit production, the climate window is too small to allow much of a crop to ripen if they are direct sown. On the other hand, by starting indoors, these crops can produce a bountiful harvest throughout the growing season.
Sowing indoors will require a bit more stuff than direct sowing. Pots, soil, a tray to catch the runoff, a cover to hold in the moisture, and maybe a mat for bottom heat; as well as a good light source will all be either necessary or improve the quality of results and chance of success. However, by starting indoors, you gain a higher percentage of seed turning into useable plants due to an increased rate of germination and minimizing the amount of thinning required. Also, as mentioned earlier, transplants help maximize the amount that can be produced in a season by shortening the time between successive crops.

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Direct sowing allows for less time committed to the garden and as mentioned earlier is the only way to grow a few crops. If direct sowing is paired with transplants that are purchased (or started by someone else), the variety of of the harvest can rival that of the home-starter. This can be a great way to get your foot in the garden gate.

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Snap peas need to be directly sown into the soil.

Regardless of whether you start everything indoors, outdoors, or a combination; getting started is the most important thing. Have fun!

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