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11 Plants That Are Best to Direct Sow

Spring is in the air and it’s time to plant a garden! Learn which plants you should skip buying and instead direct sow by seed. 

Young Seedlings Planted in the Garden

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It is warming up around here and it is planting time! I finally took the frost cloth off of all my succulents and so warmer weather feels official!

At least according to the weather channel, so lets hope!

While you’re trying to figure out what to plant in your garden, you’re likely going to plant some transplants. Maybe some that you’ve even started on your own, but which plants are best to direct seed?

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You’re likely seeing started transplants in garden centers everywhere and it can be tempting to buy the already perfectly growing plants.

But some plants really are better to plant by seed straight into the garden.

11 Plants to Direct Sow 

  1. Arugula
  2. Beets
  3. Carrots
  4. Cilantro
  5. Garlic
  6. Lettuce, Baby Mix
  7. Parsnips
  8. Potatoes
  9. Radishes
  10. Rutabagas
  11. Turnips

So depending on your weather, each of these crops at some point should be seeded directly into your garden. If you’d like to find out your exact planting date for your area, fill in your information below and a free download with all planting dates will be sent right over!

There are many favorite plants that go in the garden that you know can be planted from seed but aren’t seeing above.

But the plants listed here strictly should only be direct sowed to thrive. Plants such as spinach, squash, cucumbers, and broccoli can be transplanted early on in the growing season and then be direct seeded for later plantings.

Then there are plants such as tomatoes and peppers that should never be direct sowed and need to be transplanted into the garden.

If you’d like to start your own tomato transplants check out my post on How to Grow Tomatoes in Pots from Seed.

Benefits of Direct Seeding

The nice part about direct seeding is that you don’t have to go through the hassle of starting your own transplants. Having your own propagation area is fun and rewarding but it takes more time, materials, and attention.

Another plus is that depending on weather, you may be able to count on the rain to keep your seeds moist, cutting down on the amount of watering you have to do.

Drawbacks of Direct Seeding 

Young plants are less likely to survive if they are attacked early on by insects versus an older transplant.

You will also need to thin out plants to get to the desired spacing, which takes some extra time and effort.

Lastly, direct seeding usually results in slower germination rates if your soil is still cool. Or possibly not germinating at all due to extremes in nature such as cold days, no rain, and so on.

Get Your FREE Vegetable Garden Planting Schedule Here!

Tips for Direct Seeding 

It’s an art to be proficient at direct seeding, but it is something everyone can be great at!

If you are patient and take the time to complete all steps you will have good germination rates, healthy plants, and have much less work later on in the season.

Create a fine seedbed. You want to make the seed’s life as easy as possible from day one. As seeds start to germinate, dirt clods, small rocks and chunks of wood can be barriers to root and stem development.

So before you sow your seeds remove all noticeable particles and smooth the surface. You can also sprinkle a germination mix (amazon) over top of the newly sown seeds instead of your garden soil.

Create a stale seedbed. Try to prepare your garden bed a few weeks before you plan on planting your seeds. Working up the soil and watering the garden bed ahead of time will encourage the growth of any weeds.

Then you can clear them out before sowing your seeds. That way you won’t have to worry about as many weeds disturbing your young seedlings.

Sow at optimum soil temperature. Every crop has a soil temperature range for good germination. Soil that is too cold can rot seeds and soil that is too hot may kill seeds.

So be sure to look on the seed packet to get the ideal temperature for the seeds that you’re planting. Then you should measure the soil temperature.

You can simply stick your finger in the soil to get a rough estimate but if you really want an accurate measure you should use a soil thermometer (amazon).

Water on planting day. You should water your garden bed prior to planting because it will help the seeds stay in place when you water after planting.

So first water the bed, then plant your seeds, and then water again.

Then be sure to keep on eye on your soil moisture as seeds germinate. Seeds are planted shallow and so it’s really easy for the soil around the seeds to dry out which can wreck germination rates.

Keep track of planting days. You should write down the day you plant your seeds so that you can keep track of when the seeds should germinate.

If the plants haven’t popped up within the expected amount then you can quickly reseed without losing as many growing days.

Plant an appropriate amount of seeds. You don’t want to over-seed and you also shouldn’t under-seed. Plan on sowing 2-3 times as many plants as you want to harvest.

Another good practice is planting the seeds in rows and straight lines. If seeds are scattered all over the place it makes everything more difficult.

Thin your plants. I know that sometime it can seem difficult to pull out plants that seem to be growing perfectly fine. But giving each plant the right amount of space really is important.

Once your plants have reached a few inches tall be sure to thin them out to the recommended spacing.

If you’re looking for step by step information on how to implement all of these garden practices this is a wonderful book. I am constantly referring back to it and I recommend it to all! It teaches more than you can imagine.

Have a Great Growing Season

Having a green thumb may seem impossible! But it’s not. As long as you follow best practices such as planting on time, growing the right way, giving them their space needed, and providing them with proper care, you’ll have a great garden.

When gardening starts feeling like a chore I just think back to why I am really doing it. And that is because I love it and harvesting my own food is great!

So keep the positives in mind and have fun gardening!

Get Your FREE Vegetable Garden Planting Schedule Here!

One Comment

  1. Hello Audrey,
    I just received the news that you and my nephew Will, have become engaged! I am Will’s Aunt Sue Crawford and I live in Woodlake, just minutes from you. Your blog is so impressive and I finally have a cowgirl in the family! I’m the only one on my side of the family and the Crawford side of the family that loves horses, well actually all kinds of animals. Before Will’s Uncle Jim passed away we rescued dogs, cats, turtles, horses, raptors, corvids, any critter that needed help. We were happy to do this for them, we neutered and spayed what we could and doctored what we could. We tried to find good homes for as many as we could be still kept many of the rescued animals. I am looking forward to meeting you and your family. Sincerely, Aunt Sue

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