Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Why Direct Seeding Is Your Friend
Here's the thing: I like to lazy-garden. If I can possibly save some time and effort in the garden, without sacrificing quality, I'm all about it. To tell the truth, I am not a huge outdoorsy person. I love spring and fall weather, but when it gets hot (and to me, it's already hot today!) I much prefer to gaze at my garden from the comfort of my couch.
One of my favorite lazy things to do in gardening is direct seeding whatever I can. Direct seeding (putting the seed straight into the garden soil rather than starting the seeds in containers indoors) saves you a whole lot of time and effort with starting transplants. It can also save you from the heart-wrenching tragedy of having your cat sneak into the guest bedroom where your baby seedlings are and munching on them to his hearts content. At least they were just the cabbage and Swiss chard seedlings. Sorry Caesar, I didn't care too much about those.
Some of the failures that can occur with direct seeding have to do with overeager gardeners who put out their seed too early. It's best to wait until after the soil is the right temperature or germination just won't happen. Usually the back of your seed packet will tell you what temperature your seeds need to germinate. Keep in mind that the soil temperature is different from the air temperature -- it is usually just a bit cooler.
Patience is also important. Germination may take a bit longer outside because the factors are a more variable. I personally don't like to water my garden in the spring, unless it stays unusually hot for more than a few days, because it usually rains once weekly and that's plenty to get plants started. Again, the lazy version of gardening. I planted most of my seeds outside a month ago and many of them are just now starting to pop up. Would they be bigger by now if I had started them indoors? Yes, slightly -- but I'd also have a lot more work to do with transplanting them!
Here are some vegetables I've successfully direct seeded:
Cool Season Crops
Peas (sugar snap, shelling)
Warm Season Crops
Squash (both summer and winter)
There are also some seeds that should ONLY be direct-seeded. Most of them have shallow roots that get bothered if they're transplanted. Beans and corn are two crops that should only be planted directly.
Now is the perfect time to get planting the cool season crops and some of the warm ones. And the weather could not be better!