Kick Off Your Garden with Direct-Sow Seeds

Carrots are hardy enough to withstand cooler temperatures, making them ideal to direct sow into your garden in early spring.  

Carrots are hardy enough to withstand cooler temperatures, making them ideal to direct sow into your garden in early spring.

 

One is green, the other (most often!) orange. One is planted for its edible leaves, the other for its tasty roots. Yes, spinach and carrots may, at first blush, seem to have little in common, but these two nutritious veggies share at least one very important trait—both are “early-season” seeds that can be sown directly outdoors as soon as the soil is workable.

Carrots and spinach are just two of several vegetables that don’t need to be started indoors and, in fact, thrive when sown directly into tended garden soil as long as that soil meets temperature guidelines. Give the 10 vegetable seeds listed below nutrient-rich soil, plenty of sun, and adequate moisture, and pretty soon you’ll be savoring the fruits of your labor at your dinner table, not to mention satisfying that twitching green thumb. (Seed Savers Exchange has organic, open-pollinated varieties of each.)

Soil temperature is, perhaps, the most important determining factor for when to tear open that seed packet. Aren’t sure what that all-important last frost date is? Consult the extension service in your region. Don’t know what hardiness zone you live in? Check out the National Arboretum’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Before sowing seeds, also be sure to loosen soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches, rake it to remove old roots and rocks, and enrich it with compost or other nutrient-rich matter. And don’t forget to heed the instructions printed on most seed packets specifying seed-planting depth and spacing. Most seeds will take a week or two to sprout, or “germinate,” so worry not if you don’t see any action immediately.

Like Carrots, Lettuce thrives in the cool temperatures of spring. direct sow Lettuce seeds as soon as you are able to work your garden soil. 

Like Carrots, Lettuce thrives in the cool temperatures of spring. direct sow Lettuce seeds as soon as you are able to work your garden soil. 

Plant these seeds first!

  • Arugula: sow when soil can be worked
  • Beets: sow three to four weeks before last frost

  • Carrots: sow early spring

  • Lettuce:  sow  when soil can be worked (soil temperature, 40 to 50 degrees)

  • Parsley:  sow early spring before last frost

  • Peas: sow when soil can be worked (soil temperature, 50 to 75 degrees)

  • Radish: sow after last frost (soil temperature, above 45 degrees)

  • Spinach: sow early spring

  • Sunflowers: sow after last frost  (soil temperature, anything above 50 degrees)

  • Swiss chard:  sow after last frost (soil temperature, anything above 50 degrees)