Growing vegetables from seed is quite different from purchasing a tomato or strawberry plant from the local garden center. There is more work and time involved than nurturing a pre-grown plant to harvest; however, growing vegetables from seed is also a great deal more satisfying. The most important thing is to read all the instructions for each type of vegetable seed on the back of the manufacturer's packet. The producer of the seeds has completed extensive testing to find the right depth and spacing for each seed type. Every type of vegetable has different requirements.
Prepare the soil in the vegetable garden location before planting any vegetable seeds. Dig down 12 to 18 inches with your shovel, removing any twigs, weeds or rocks. Add 2 inches of nursery compost to the top and work it into the soil. Rake the area evenly.
Create rows in your garden running east to west in order for the vegetables to get the most sunshine possible. Use your hoe to draw a line about 3 or 4 inches deep. Draw a parallel line about 8 inches away. Allow the soil to fall to the inside of the two lines. A garden row can be as long as the whole garden plot or divided into two (or more) rows with a path between them.
Leave space between the garden rows for working paths. There is no set rule as to the width, but 3 feet is a good space for a path.
Plant your vegetable seeds on top of the center mound that was produced from the two hoe lines. Poke a hole in the soil at the depth and spacing recommended for the particular seed. A general rule is to plant a seed twice as deep as the seed is long. Cover the seed hole with soil. Carrot seeds, for example, are planted about ¼ inch deep, while beans are planted 1 to two inches in depth depending on the variety.
Make furrows (shallow row indentations) along the top of the garden row instead of individual holes for very fine seeds that can be planted very closely together. Drop the seeds along the furrow and then cover them with soil.
Lightly sprinkle the seeded area with water. If the water pressure is too harsh, it can disturb the newly planted seeds. Sprinkle water daily, keeping the soil moist. When germination (sprouting) occurs, you can use the hoe lines (motes) to add running water. This will cause the vegetable plant roots to suck up water from below, allowing the roots to strengthen. At this point, water about once a week or more often if the weather is extra hot and dry.