While starting seeds indoors is a great way to get a head start on your garden, another option is to tuck them directly into the soil outdoors. Here are a few tips for planting seeds outside in your Niagara garden this year.
Direct (outdoor) sowing involves lots of unpredictable elements, such as wind lift, weather and insects. Nevertheless, many plants, from vegetables and herbs to annuals and perennials sprout without a problem from seed sown directly into garden soil. We recommend direct seeding radishes, beets, chard, peas, lettuce and spinach.
To sow seeds successfully outdoors, follow these tips.
Prepare Your Soil
Loosen your soil with a rake or hand fork, breaking apart large clumps, and removing any debris you find, such as sticks, roots or rocks. This is the time to add amendments to your soil as well, such as fertilizer or organic materials, to create a good growing environment for your seeds. Finally, create a level surface for sowing.
To make your holes, you can follow the instructions on the seed packet for planting depth, but the rule of thumb is generally to make a hole about 3x the size of the seed's diameter (with some exceptions).
If you're sowing extremely small seeds (like carrots, for example) mix the seeds with some sand to aid in dispersal.
For larger seeds, (like peas), make a long furrow and dribble the seeds into it, spacing them as described on the seed packet. Or you can use a dibbler, a bamboo stake or even a pencil to create individual planting holes.
Water your seeds after planting with a gentle mist or shower. Don't use a strong or heavy spray, as this could wash your seeds away. It's important to keep the soil moist, so in hot weather, this could mean you'll have to water twice a day.
Mark Your Planting Areas
This is especially important if they're between existing plants. You can use garden markers for this, but really anything that is clearly visible and defines the space works!
Identify the Seedlings
Familiarize yourself with the appearance of your seedlings, so you don't accidentally pull them out, thinking they're weeds. There are lots of illustrations and photos to be found online!
Watch for Pests
Keep an eye on your garden for the appearance of slugs, cutworms, snails, and other pests.