3 of the Simplest Veggies to Start From Seed

3 of the Simplest Veggies to Start From Seed

With the weather warming and summer fast approaching, thoughts of ripening produce and seasonal delights spring to mind. There’s nothing quite like the taste of homegrown vegetables and growing your own can help lower your carbon footprint. Speaking of lowering our carbon footprint, eating a more plant-based diet is one of the most impactful things we as individuals can do! That said, green thumbs know that growing your own produce can be finicky and frustrating at the worst of times. For new growers, it can be a little intimidating knowing where to even start. So despite being amateur gardeners ourselves, we created this blog post to share some of our tips and tricks for starting seeds as well as some of the easiest veggies for doing so.

Tips to keep in mind for all seed starting

While every veggie has its ideal conditions, there are general best practices for starting your own seeds. First off, if watering plants with tap water it’s best to fill a container and let it sit out for 24 hours before using. This allows the chlorine present in treated tap water to evaporate out instead of harming your delicate seedlings. Next, we recommend starting your seeds using a seed-starting potting mix. These mixes have fewer nutrients and better moisture-retaining properties which is ideal for young seedlings. Some soil or potting mixes include various additives and fertilizers which can harm delicate seedlings or inhibit their root growth. In addition to soil, all veggies and herbs need plenty of light to grow to their full potential. Long and leggy seedlings that are stretching upward for light often do not survive when it comes to transplanting outside. Try placing in a south-facing window or supplementing with additional lights to help seedlings grow strong. Lastly, seedlings need to have a transition period before being placed outside. This is known as “hardening-off” and helps the plants adjust to the harsher, outdoor environment. Place seedlings outside in the mornings where they can be out of the way of any rough winds or extreme conditions. After a couple of hours, bring them back inside for the rest of the day. Repeat for the next couple of days—leaving them outside longer and longer. After a few days, they should be well adjusted to their new home in the garden and ready to plant out.

Peas

If you’ve never grown anything from seed before, the humble pea family is a great starting place. Their relatively large and familiar size means you don’t have to fuss with trying to separate tiny seeds when planting. They are nitrogen-fixers meaning they partner with beneficial bacteria in the soil to pull nitrogen from the atmosphere and make it available to the roots. This includes the roots of nearby plants making them a great companion planting addition. Peas thrive in cooler weather making them a great candidate for early spring gardening before it gets too hot. We’ve found the little seedlings to be robust and easy to transplant making them a lot easier to work with than more delicate veggie seedlings.

To Sow Indoors: (Can also be planted in pots and harvested for microgreens!)

  1. Soak seeds overnight (optional)
  2. Plant ½” to 1” deep in separate containers
  3. Within two weeks you should see seedlings starting to appear

To Sow Outdoors: (Can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring)

  1. Plant ½” to 1” deep
  2. Plant in rows 2” – 3” apart
  3. Keep rows 24” apart

*Peas are vining plant so they grow best on a trellis or support

Cucumbers

Another very simple vegetable to start from seed are cucumbers. They come in bush or vining varieties but both are started the same way. Cucumbers thrive when it’s hot and humid as long as they get plenty of water (think of how much water is in a cucumber!). Their seeds start best in a warm windowsill or someplace where the temperature won’t get too cold. Once the danger of frost has passed they can be moved outdoors and taste best when harvested small!

To Sow Indoors:

  1. Plant 1” deep in separate containers
  2. Seeds should germinate after a week or so.
  3. Transplant out to the garden after 2-4 weeks.

To Sow Outdoors:

  1. Wait until the danger of frost has passed
  2. Plant 1” deep in 12” diameter mounds of soil
  3. Keep mounds 6” apart with 6-8 seeds per mound
  4. After seeds germinate, thin to 3-4 plants per mound

*Vining cucumbers grow best on a trellis for support

Squash

Another rather simple vegetable to start from seed are those in the squash family (think pumpkins and gourds). The seeds are large and easy to handle and they germinate readily. You might have seen new squash seedlings starting in places where squash was abandoned or not harvested. The trick with squash is that they require a longer growing season and they can take up a lot of space. For places with a shorter growing season, it’s best to start squash seeds indoors and then transplant after the danger of frost has passed.

To Sow Indoors:

  1. Plant 1” deep in separate containers
  2. Seeds should germinate after a week or so.
  3. Transplant out to the garden after 6-8 weeks.
  4. Provide a trellis for growing support

To Sow Outdoors:

  1. Wait until the danger of frost has passed
  2. Plant 1” deep in 12” diameter mounds of soil
  3. Keep mounds 6” apart with 6-8 seeds per mound
  4. After seeds germinate, thin to 3-4 plants per mound

By the way, our empty shot bottles make perfect containers for starting seedlings!

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