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April 25, 2018  |  Login
Starting Your Veggies off Right
By Charlie Nardozzi & The National Gardening Association

Whether you choose to grow vegetables from seeds or transplants, each planting method has its advantages. Whichever planting method you choose, make sure that you time your planting for the most productive results.

You can start seeds indoors or outdoors. If you plant seeds indoors, you transplant them into your garden later. (You start vegetable seeds as you do perennials, and you look for the same things in starter plants. Click here for instructions). With direct seeding, you skip the indoor step and sow the seeds directly in your garden. If you’re serious about growing vegetables, you’ll probably end up using both options.

Consider these points when making your choice:

  • You get a jump on the growing season when you start indoors. If you start at the right time, you can have vigorous seedlings ready to go into the ground at the ideal time. In areas with short growing seasons, starting seedlings indoors really gives you a head start. The best candidates for an early start are plants that tolerate root disturbance and benefit from a jump on the season, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, leeks, onions, parsley, peppers, and tomatoes.
  • Seeds are easier to start indoors. You can more easily provide the perfect conditions for hard-to-germinate or very small seeds, including the ideal temperature, moisture, and fertility.
  • Some vegetables don’t like to be transplanted. These vegetables include many of the root crops, such as carrots, beets, turnips, and parsnips. They’re cold-hardy vegetables, so you can direct seed them pretty early anyway. Crops like corn, beans, and peas are also pretty finicky about transplanting and grow better when you direct seed them.

Peater, Peater, Pumpkin Planter

For gardeners who put a premium on convenience and still want to start plants indoors, premade growing cubes are a good idea. But to be honest, we’re not huge fans of peat pots or cubes. The idea behind a peat pot is that once planted (pot and all) in the garden, the plants’ roots grow through the sides of the wet pot, and as the season progresses, the peat naturally breaks down and disappears. When we’ve used them, the peat didn’t always break down. If you decide to use peat pots or cubes, gently tear the sides of the pots just before planting to create spaces for the roots to grow into the soil. Plant a peat pot with frayed sides into the garden.

The little cubes are flat, half-dollar-size peat cubes enclosed in nylon mesh that you place a seed in and then soak in water. As the cubes are soaking, the peat expands to cover the seed and grows into a small peat pot. They work okay, but they’re hard to wet.

Planting Roots In The Ground

Harden off vegetable seedlings that have been grown indoors or purchased from a greenhouse before exposing them to the elements. Click here for more about hardening off (you use the same method to harden off vegetables as you do perennials).

Don’t overharden your plants. more



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