How to Sow Seeds Outdoors

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Whether you're planting flowers, vegetables or herbs, sowing seeds outdoors is a snap. All it takes is good garden soil and a little follow-up care to get loads of great plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Garden Spades
  • Mulch
  • Seeds
  • Spading Forks
  • Steel Rake
  • Watering Cans
  • Watering Wand And Hose
  • Read seed-packet directions carefully. Many annuals and perennials can be sown directly in the ground, but some should be started in containers, then transplanted.

  • Consider your timing. Some plants like to be planted outdoors in early spring, while temperatures are cold. Others must wait until after your area's average last frost date. Again, consult the packet.

  • Prepare the soil. Most seeds demand optimum conditions. Work in plenty of compost with a spade or spading fork to a depth of at least 1 foot. The soil should be loose and crumbly and moist before planting. Rake smooth.

  • Sow the seeds. Follow package directions on sowing depth. As a rough rule, the larger the seed, the deeper it must be planted. Some very small seeds are just scattered directly on the soil and not covered up at all.

  • Water gently. It's easy for seeds to be washed away by heavy watering. Use the mist attachment on a watering wand or a watering can that has a gentle sprinkle. Be sure to keep soil moist until seedlings are up.

  • Thin out seedlings by gently pulling them out, if the seed packet directs, once they are an inch or so high. This will ensure that those you want to survive have adequate room to grow big and healthy.

  • Pinch back most seedlings when they've made three sets of true leaves. Just snip the top part of the tiny plant off with your fingernails to encourage

  • bushy growth and more roots. Check the package to determine whether pinching is recommended.

  • Baby your seedlings. Make sure they continue to have all the sun they need. Also keep the seedlings watered and weeded. Add an inch or two of organic mulch as soon as seedlings are up and growing.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some plants are easier than others to start from seed: marigolds, zinnias, squash and corn are good easy-to-start examples.
  • It's better to trim crowded seedlings off at soil level than to disturb the ones you want to keep by pulling the crowding ones out by the roots.

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