How to Grow Vegetables from Seed

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Grow Your Own Vegetables

Every winter I always look forward to planning out what I will grow in the coming year’s vegetable garden.   I usually start around this time of the year by starting some seeds inside and mapping out my garden so every square foot will be maximized. This time around I thought I’d share how to grow vegetables from seed, just in case you were interested in trying it yourself.

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I have been growing a garden now for the last 4 years and I have learned A LOT!  Thanks to being raised on 4 acres where my mom always had a huge garden that fed us in the summer months, not to mention basically living in our own botanical garden, I’ve picked up some basic green thumb talents naturally.  I’ve also learned a lot by doing and making mistakes.  Things like being too impatient and moving my precious seedlings outside when it was still just a tad early(I still haven’t really learned my lesson) Or like forgetting to water the garden for 2 days in a row when it’s been a steady 95* with no rain in sight.  Yes, I have done this…more than once.  Either way, I am always happy when I can finally get dirt under my fingernails and make something grow.  And not only make pretty things grow, but things we can EAT, and therefore, save more money at the grocery store.

How to Grow Vegetables from Seed

In the years past, we have had a small, but useful garden.  Two years ago my wonderful, handy, husband made me two raised cedar beds for me to plant in.  Since we had tried the years previous to grow directly in our soil and didn’t have much luck we decided the raised beds might serve us better since we could control the type of soil our plants would grow in.  Needless to say we had a much larger, more productive vegetable garden, so last year we expanded our garden out a few feet and added 2 more raised beds to round the number to 4.

Chattanooga back yard vegetable garden

Even as I was planting my garden last year my mind was already jumping to what I would do THIS year.  Well, this year is going to be a little bit different than what I had dreamt about last spring.  THIS year we no longer live in a home we OWN and no longer have a 1/2 acre back yard to plant to my heart’s content.  This year I will be starting on a new adventure…the adventure of learning how to container garden.  I imagine it shouldn’t be too hard now that I have this vegetable growing thing down, and I love to plant flowers in containers.  Hopefully you will join me as I learn what to do and what NOT to do when it comes to growing a vegetable garden in containers.

The vegetables I plan to grow from seed this year include Green peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos, habaneros, mortgage lifter tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, cauliflower, spinach, and possibly strawberries–ok I know that last one is a fruit 😉  Along with vegetables I like to grow some staple herbs as well.  I had a nice variety in our previous house that I had planted in an old wooden pallet, but when we moved I left them all there.  This year I will be starting with just a few herbs like chives, oregano, basil, rosemary, and thyme.   What are some herbs and vegetables you always have in your garden?

Today I decided was a good day to start growing my seeds.  Tomatoes and peppers are generally the only ones that I will start ahead of time.  You could start your Cucumbers and Squashes now as well, but this year I decided not to grow any.  You can check out this site HERE to get a better idea for your growing zone as to when to start growing your seeds indoors.  Seeds are much less expensive than buying individual plants.  You can get a pack of 100 seeds for $3-$5 depending on what it is and where it’s from, where you will spend that much PER PLANT if you buy from the hardware stores.

What you’ll need:

  • A bag of SEED STARTING potting mix.  I like Miracle Grow’s seed starting mix the best because it is not too chunky with pieces of bark and sticks, but you can use whichever you prefer
  • Some sort of container to house the plants–In years past I have used old spinach/lettuce containers as well as strawberry containers.  You will have to transplant once the seedling get big enough, but it gives you a lid to work with and costs nothing!  This year I bought a 50 seed starting kit from Home Depot
  • Seeds—no brainer 😉
  • Something to mark the seeds with–I used plastic fork handles because that’s what I had.  You could use popsicle sticks, color coded toothpicks(as long as you write down what each color means) etc.
  • Spray bottle or watering can filled with water

How to Grow Vegetables from Seed:

Potting mix, seeds and empty seed starting pods
  1. First thing you will need to do is fill your container with the potting soil.  If you are using a seed starter kit, fill the dirt all the way to the top.  I will usually fill it up, lightly pack it down with my fingers and then add more dirt.  You don’t want it completely packed down air tight, but you also don’t want it so airy that once you water it, you find out you’ve only filled it half way.
seed starting pods filled with soil

2. Next spritz the dirt with the spray bottle, just enough to get the dirt slightly wet. I like using a spray bottle to mist my seedlings with while they are growing instead of using a watering can.  The reason being is you can control the amount of water easily.  Sometimes with a watering can you can over water and drown the tiny plants.  Believe me I’ve done it. Multiple times.

Spritzing Seeds

3. Now you are all set to start planting!! Each packet of seeds will have planting instructions on them telling you when to plant, how deep, and how long it will take for the plants to emerge.

close up of seed packets

4. All of the vegetables I’m planting today need to be planted 1/4″ deep. Poke a hole with your finger about 1/4″ deep

Poking Seeds

5. Next, pour a few seeds in the palm of your hand…

palm of hand with pepper seeds

…and place a seed in each hole you just poked. You could put 2 seeds in each hole to make sure you get germination.  If both seeds germinate you just pluck out one of the plants.

Close up planted seed

6. Now that you have your seeds in their new homes, cover them back up with some potting soil and give the soil another misting with your spray bottle.  Make sure to mark each row of seeds so you know what they are when they start to sprout.  Put your lid back on and place your seedlings somewhere where they will get plenty of light, and will stay warm.

planted seeds in greenhouse with cover

And that’s it!  That’s how to grow vegetables from seed! 

Make sure you spritz your seedlings every few days as they need it.  The trick is to keep the soil MOIST, not dry and not soaked. It’s also very important to keep your seedlings warm.  Having the lid will help trap in the heat.  I also happen to have a small indoor greenhouse my mom gave me last year.  It’s in need of a new cover thanks to my wonderful adorable cats, but it still works!

Green House with cover and planted seeds

Sorry for the terrible picture–I found a similar greenhouse at Big Lots the other day for around $30.  They also sell them on Amazon*.  Definitely, worth the investment, I think.  The lights each cost around $20 plus an extension cord and junction box.  If you have a sunny enough area you may not need the growing lights, but it definitely helps them along!

And If you have cats like me, especially mischievous ones, they like to lie on the plastic cover–it acts like a hammock! 

Cat in a Greenhouse

My poor Jade plant didn’t stand a chance

What vegetables do you like to grow from seed?

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