There are different methods for bringing new plants to your garden but the most inexpensive one is to direct sow seeds. Some people might find the direct sowing process too difficult and stick to more convenient methods but it’s actually quite easy once you learn the basics. The best part about direct sowing seeds is that you don’t really need to buy specialized equipment. Problems with transplanting are also eliminated if you go down this planting route.
It’s safe to say that there are many advantages to growing plants directly from seed. That being said, make sure you’re aware of the potential drawbacks as well. Depending on the plant you plan on adding to the garden, this may not be the optimal method to try. Certain plants will find it harder to get established using direct seed sowing in cool climate areas. Some good examples are tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers.
Sometimes you won’t get the expected results as directly sowing seeds can be more unpredictable. There are many variables to take into account – such as difficult weather conditions and the presence of local wildlife. If you want to be successful at using this planting method, this article will take you on a step-by-step journey to figure out the best techniques for direct sowing seeds. You will be surprised to discover that not only ‘green-fingered’ gardening masters can use direct seeding.
1. Prepare the Soil
The first thing that you have to tackle when direct sowing involves preparing the soil. You can’t just take the seeds and put them in the ground as it is. To properly develop, your seeds will require soil with a fine consistency. This is important because the delicate seed can’t emerge through a large clod of heavy soil. There’s plenty of food stored in a seed to manage until it can start using the energy of the sun but that won’t be enough to handle tough soil.
Ideally, you need to prepare the soil particles to be the size of a plum. Anything bigger than that will force the growing seeds to push around the side and cause developmental issues. Avoiding the shriveling of your nascent seedlings is essential. Therefore, you need to loosen the soil using simple tools such as rakes or garden forks. Make sure the resulting area has an even surface and is free of any weeds, rocks, and other large debris.
2. Space Your Seeds
When direct sowing seeds, take care of proper spacing. You don’t need perfect precision but it’s recommended to keep the planted seeds at least one inch apart. There are special considerations that you will need to discover by reading the seed packet instructions. Depending on the type of plant, there may be more specific requirements that need to be followed when it comes to seed spacing.
Overcrowding seeds can have some detrimental effects, especially if we’re talking about large plants like beetroot or calendula. You don’t want to make your plants compete for resources so it’s best to space the seeds widely enough to allow them to grow comfortably. Regardless of how careful you are at this stage, it will most likely be required to thin your baby seedlings at a later date.
3. Choose the Right Depth
Anyone attempting the direct seed sowing method has to be careful when choosing the planting depth. Once again, it’s recommended to check the seed packet instructions that show you the correct approach depending on the type of plant you’re growing. There are some notable differences in terms of soil depth because some seeds like to be nicely buried while others perform much better when sitting right on top of the soil.
If you’re still uncertain about deciding on the right depth for direct sowing, go for planting the seed around three times as deep as its diameter. This is a good rule of thumb to follow but there’s no need to get excessively meticulous. It’s fine for most seeds to start growing despite less-than-ideal soil depths.
4. Care for the Seeds
Sometimes you can direct sow seeds successfully even if you don’t prepare the soil carefully and take into account instructions about spacing and soil depth. Nature tends to find a way around many issues but it’s safe to say that without proper care for the seeds once they’re in the ground, you will most likely not achieve germination.
Seeds won’t be able to develop if the soil dries out. This is why it’s vital to ensure adequate moisture levels. It can be a bit tricky because a balance has to be found. Add too much water and you might hamper the germination process even more. Be gentle with your seeds as a strong garden hose setting can destroy all that careful surface spacing and depth placement. Germination times vary, but most seeds will start to emerge within 5 to 14 days.
5. Thin Your Seedlings
Your little seedlings require thinning because overcrowding is a serious problem that has to be prevented. It’s important to time this process correctly to do a good job. When it starts to look like a miniature plant with a height of around an inch and a couple of leaves, then it’s time for thinning the seedlings. Make sure you don’t get too brutal as one plant has to be left out at every 4-inch interval (some plants may need more or less than that).
By removing surplus plants, you will encourage others to develop as excepted. Depending on the plant, this won’t be a wasteful process because certain sprouts can be used to boost the nutritional value of your salads. Large flowering or vegetable plants might need some additional thinning again in a month. It’s safe to say that giving some more room will help a lot to get healthy and long-lived plants. All that extra space will give your plant the opportunity to develop its root network and produce more leaves that maximize growth potential.