When preparing to plant your veggie seeds, there are some general guidelines to follow – since some do better being sown directly into your garden while others need the more protected conditions that sowing indoors provides.
Before we get started, it will be very useful for you to have an idea of the length of your growing season – that is, how many frost-free days you have on average between your last frost in spring and your first frost in fall.
There are many benefits to sowing seeds indoors:
- Obviously, it gives you a head start on the growing season, which can lead to more fruitful harvests.
- It’s actually necessary for a number of plants. Warm season vegetables—such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant—can’t be planted too early in the spring, as the soil is too cool. In many regions (including New England and Midwest), there are not enough growing days for those plants to get to harvest if they’re started outside. Starting seeds indoors allows you to gain a few precious weeks of growing time, which can really make a difference. In warmer regions, starting seeds indoors can allow you to get in an extra round of crops (especially cool-weather crops) before summer heat stifles growth.
- If you don’t seed indoors, you will need to buy young plants called “transplants” or “starts” at the garden store or nursery. While some nursery starter plants are grown nicely, others may be of poor quality and don’t thrive once they’re home. When you plant your own seeds, you tend to have healthier starts, since you can care for them from day one.
- There is a much wider range of varieties available as seeds—things you would never find in a six-pack at the local garden center!
- You will know how they have been raised—organically instead of bathed in a wash of chemicals. You can time the plants to be ready for when you want to plant them.
- Finally, seeds are much less expensive than buying plants at the garden store.
It’s not just warm-season vegetables that can be started from seed. Many vegetables—such as carrots and radishes—do best when started from seed, as they dislike having their roots disturbed once they start growing.