Grow your own vegetables and save money by starting the plants from seed. Often you have access to a greater variety of vegetables if you decide to plant from seeds instead of from purchased seedlings. Many cool-season crops, such as peas and lettuce, grow well when directly seeded outdoors. Some warm-season vegetables, such as squash and watermelon, do not transplant well and should also be direct seeded outdoors. The back of the seed packet often details whether a plant can be successfully sown outdoors.
Prepare the garden bed prior to planting. Apply a 2-inch layer of compost over a full-sun, well-drained garden bed. Fertilize the bed as recommended for the plant type. Generally, apply 1 to 2 pounds of 10-10-10 (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) analysis fertilizer per every 100 square feet of bed. Till the compost and fertilizer into the top 10 inches of soil.
Rake the the top layer of the garden bed until it is level and smooth. Break up any soil clumps with the rake as most seeds germinate best in a fine soil texture.
Sow the seeds to the depth and spacing recommended on the seed packet. Plant most seeds to a depth twice their width. Plant small seeds, such as carrot, directly on the soil surface then cover with a 1/8- to 1/4-inch layer of soil. Keep the rows straight and space them far enough apart that you can work the bed between the rows once the plants are mature.
Water the garden bed with a fine mist of water until it is evenly moist, but not overly soggy. Use a spray attachment on the hose so that there is no strong spray of water, which may wash away seeds.
Thin the seedlings once they germinate, usually seven to 14 days after sowing. Pluck out any excess seedlings so the plants are spaced at the recommended distance as detailed on the seed packet.