Growing plants from seed is a bit more labor intensive than planting a transplant, but the extra work is worth it. A wider variety of plants are available when planting from seed than types of seedlings in your average garden center. Choose seeds suited to your growing conditions and provide them with the nutrients and water they require and you'll have the satisfaction of an entirely home-grown garden.
Choose new seeds from a local garden center. It is not advised to use last season's seeds. Old seeds, even if they do germinate, may not produce the best plants possible, says The University of Tennessee Extension (UTE). Select seed hybrids for weather hardiness and quality UTE advises.
Send your soil off for a soil quality test in the fall the season before you intend to plant. University extension services often offer a soil testing service for a small fee. Alternatively, pH tests are available from good garden centers.
Till the garden in the fall as the freezing and thawing of the soil during the winter will break up soil clumps, says Iowa State University Extension. Add fertilizer and organic amendments before tilling in accordance to your pH test results.
Create rows in the garden using the end of the hoe in the spring after the soil has warmed and there is no chance of frost. Consult seed packets for optimum sowing times, planting depth and spacing for the seeds you chose. Generally, the depth of the row should be no more than 3 to 4 times the size of the seed, says Iowa State University Extension. Make straight line, wide rows or square off areas to plant the seed.
Space the plant seed as directed into the rows. Cover the seed with soil to the depth recommended on the seed packets. Water generously, but gently, to start the germination process. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate.
Thin out the seedlings as they grow, choosing the strongest looking plants, pulling out the extra seedlings to provide space.