Labeled Tiny Sprouting Vegetable Seeds
vegetable seedlings
(Image credit: EraPhernalia Vintage)

Many people, such as myself, enjoy growing vegetables from seeds. Using the seeds from your garden's previous growing year not only can provide you with the same, succulent produce, but it is also a good way of saving money.

Finding Vegetable Seeds

When you're obtaining seeds to grow a vegetable garden for the first time, you may want to select them from a catalog specializing in vegetable gardening. These sources are typically ideal for beginners, as they provide useful information, better quality, and a wider selection. Start with familiar varieties that are easy to grow. The seeds should be ordered well in advance of planting time and after you have planned your gardening space and individual needs. Ordering this way will help ensure that you purchase the proper amounts. If you already have a garden and want to collect seeds for the following year, save only seeds from non-hybrid or open-pollinated varieties. Take the seeds from fleshy varieties such as tomatoes or melons when they are at their ripest; collect beans once they have fully dried out. Clean the seeds and allow them to dry thoroughly. Be sure to store your seeds in airtight containers that are placed in areas which are cool and dry.

How to Grow Vegetables from Seeds

Seeds can be planted directly into the soil of your garden, or you may start them indoors.

Growing Vegetables Seeds Indoors

Start your vegetable seeds indoors about four to six weeks before the growing season begins. Many people prefer to place seeds in flowerpots, paper cups or small flats. If there is no outlet for drainage, be sure to place small holes in the bottoms of your chosen container beforehand. Fill the flat or other acceptable container with a suitable growing medium such as vermiculite or equal parts of sand, peat moss, and soil. Soilless potting mix can also be used. Sprinkle seeds onto the soil and cover them according to their proper planting depth found on the seed packet. You also may refer to planting guides found in many garden centers or catalogs. Lightly moisten with water and keep the seeds in a sunny location, such as a windowsill. The location should stay reasonably warm and receive at least six hours of full sunlight. Additionally, the flats can be placed in a cold frame where they will receive ample amounts of sunlight, ventilation, and a suitable temperature. Placing bricks or concrete blocks under flats will help supply additional heat, if needed. Once the seedlings have developed leaves, they can be transplanted into other suitable containers to prevent them from becoming weak. The plants need to be hardened off for about two weeks before planting them into the garden. Water plants generously prior to moving them out to the garden.

Planting Vegetable Seeds Directly in the Garden

When planting directly into the garden, sow seeds in shallow furrows with plenty of moisture. Use a rake to create the furrows for sowing seeds. After seedlings show signs of healthy growth, you can thin them as needed. Pole beans, squash, cucumbers, corn, and melons often are planted in hills of 8 to 10 seeds and thinned to two to three plants per hill once they have reached adequate size. You can also interplant faster growing varieties of crops between the slower ones. Keep in mind that different types of vegetables have different needs; therefore, it's best to refer to the individual seed packets or other resource that shows the quantity of seeds required for a given space and plan accordingly. Once harvesting season has begun, you can start collecting your favorite seeds and continue reaping their rewards for years to come.

Nikki Tilley
Senior Editor

Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.