Direct Seeding

Unless you live in an area where summers are really short, you're better off sowing some types of vegetables directly in a garden. Large-seeded, fast-growing vegetables, such as corn, melons, squash, beans, and peas, usually languish if they're grown in containers for even a day or two too long.

Before direct seeding, make sure that the soil has dried out sufficiently before you work it, and be sure that the soil is warm enough for the seeds that you want to plant. Pea seeds, for example, germinate in soil as cool as 40°F (4°C), and you can plant them as soon as you can work the soil in spring. Squash seeds, on the other hand, need warmth. If your soil temperature is much below 65°F (18°C), the seeds are likely to rot in the ground before they sprout. The best way to determine the temperature of your soil is to use a soil thermometer, which you can buy at a garden store.

You can plant seeds in a variety of patterns. The method that you choose depends on your climate, your tools, and your taste:

Row Planting

Mark the placement of a row within your garden, and then make a furrow at the correct depth along the row. Some seeds may not sprout, so sow seeds more thickly than you want the final spacing of the crops to be. Thinning rows is less of a chore if you space seeds as evenly as possible. Cover the seeds with fine soil and then firm them in with the back of a hoe to make sure that all the seeds are in contact with the soil. Water gently. If you plan to use furrow irrigation, fill the furrows with water first and then push the large seeds into the top of raised beds.

Wide Row Planting

This method allows you to plant more seeds in less space by concentrating watering, weeding, and fertilizing in a smaller area. Rows are generally 10 to 16 inches wide. Sprinkle seeds over the entire row — with most crops, try to land the seeds about 1/2 to 1 inch apart. For peas and beans, space them 1-1/2 to 2 inches. Cover small seeds with a thin layer of potting soil. Lightly pat the potting soil down again to bring the added soil into firm contact with the seeds.

Bed Planting

Planting in beds is essentially the same as planting wide rows.

Hill Planting

Plant seeds for vining crops that spread out, such as squash, melons, or cucumbers, in hills or circular groups. Loosen the soil in a 1-foot-diameter area, level the area, and then plant five to six seeds close together. Thin out all but the two strongest seedlings.

If your soil is heavy, you may want to plant in a raised hill, or mound. The raised soil warms up more quickly than the surrounding soil and drains better. Just don't let the mound dry out!

Soon after seedlings grow their second set of true leaves, you need to thin them out to avoid overcrowding. (The first set of leaves that a seedling produces are called seed leaves or cotyledon, which are followed by the true leaves.) When you thin plants, either discard the extra seedlings or move them to another part of your garden.

Perhaps the easiest and most used method of planting is simple rows.  In the video below we share some tips on planting corn and beans.