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What is Direct Seeding or Direct Sowing?

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Growing Hot Peppers from Seed

Which plants you can direct sow will depend on your climate. Peppers need to be started months ahead in cold climates, but can be direct sown in areas with a long growing season.

Photo Courtesy of the National Garden Bureau

Question: What is Direct Seeding or Direct Sowing?

What does it mean to direct seed or direct sow seeds?

Answer:

Direct seeding or direct sowing just means that you start plant seeds in the garden, rather than starting seeds indoors earlier, in pots.

Many seeds of both flowers and vegetables can be started outdoors, at the start of the growing season. Starting seeds indoors may give you a head start, but some plants don't like being transplanted and will grow better if you seed them in the bed where they will be grown without disturbance. And you won't even have to harden them off.

You will still need to give your direct sown seeds some special attention. Here are my tips for success when direct seeding:
  • Make sure the area is weed free. It's easy to mistake sprouting weed seed for your flower or vegetable seeds.

  • Most of the sowing information will be on the seed packet, if there is one. The rule of thumb is to plant seeds 3 times as deep as their circumference, but some seeds require light to germinate. If that is the case, gently press them into the soil, so that they are making good contact.

  • Pay special attention to when to sow. Some seeds or seedlings won't survive frost. Some require a cold period to germinate.

  • Mark the spot. Trust me, you'll forget.

  • Water gently. Don't wash the seeds away or have them all flow into a pile.

  • Keep the soil moist until the seed germinates, then be sure to water whenever the soil looks dry. Seedlings don't have much of a root system and they can dry out within hours.

  • If you've had good germination, you'll need to thin the seedlings, to give them air space and room to grow. You can pull the unwanted seedlings, when they are a couple of inches high. If that seems to disturb the roots of the seedlings you want to keep, you can snip the extras with a small scissor or simply pinch off the leaves with your fingers.

  • Most plants benefit from being pinched back once they have developed about 3 sets of true leaves. This will encourage the plant to send out more branches and become a fuller, bushier plant.

  • Continue to pamper your seedlings until they become established plants.

 

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