A friend of mine recently reached out and asked for some gardening advice. She was unsure about which plants should be started inside and which should be directly sown into her raised bed. I provided her with some suggestions and thought you may find them helpful as well. Here goes…
Beans – directly sow both bush and pole varieties after last frost.
Beets – these cold tolerant root vegetables can be directly sown or started inside and transplanted when very small to avoid root damage. While most root vegetables are best directly sown, beets can be challenging with meticulous soil requirements that are more easily managed in seed-starter trays.
Brassicas – including but not limited to: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, kale & cabbage. It is advised that these be started inside where conditions are easily controlled. A general rule of thumb is to transplant when seedlings are between 3-6 inches tall.
Carrots – these cold tolerant veggies should be directly sown. Their roots are easily disrupted so transplanting is not ideal. Sow them densely and then thin by clipping off the greens (rather than pulling the entire plant) to avoid damaging neighboring seedlings. Those greens can be used to make a tasty pesto.
Cucumbers – sow directly after the last frost of the season has passed.
Eggplant – much like peppers and tomatoes, eggplants are warm weather crops that require 8-10 weeks of growth inside before they can be hardened off and transplanted into the garden. Eggplants also make a great choice for container gardens and raised beds.
Lettuce – cold tolerant and best sown densely in their permanent home. For best productivity, thin per the package directions and/or head size.
Melons – start them inside 1-2 weeks before transplanting to their summer home. Most melons have no tolerance for cold temperatures, be sure to wait until all chance of frost has passed and give them plenty of water.
Onions – seeds can be started inside 4-6 weeks before transplanting or sets and live plants can be sown directly. Onions fare better in cooler temperatures and mature based on sun exposure (day length) so be sure to reference a planting guide based on your zone, such as this one provided by Urban Farmer.
Parsnips – another cold tolerant root vegetable that does not fare well when transplanted. Avoid root disruption by directly sowing parsnips.
Peas – quickly maturing, cold tolerant veggies that can be directly sown in early spring or early fall.
Peppers – start inside 8-10 weeks before last frost then gradually harden off before transplanting to their final destination.
Squash – winter and summer squash varieties do well when directly sown but they are not cold tolerant so wait until the last frost of the season has passed before planting your seeds.
Sunflowers – best directly sown once risk of frost has passed.
Tomatoes – start inside 8-10 weeks before last frost then gradually harden off before transplanting to their final destination. When transplanting tomatoes it is best to bury them all the way up to the top set of leaves. They will shoot new roots the entire length of their buried stem, allowing for greater water and nutrient uptake to support large, prolific plants.
Turnips – cold tolerant root veggies, best sown directly.
If there is anything specific that you’re planning to include in your 2020 garden that you’d like to discuss, feel free to comment below. Otherwise, I hope this helps to guide your spring planting process. Cheers, friends!