How to Start a Vegetable Garden From Seed


There are hundreds of varieties of vegetables available from seed. Don't limit your selection to what's available at the plant nursery or big-box store. Seed catalogs include heirloom varieties of tomatoes, different colors of carrots, tiny beets and giant cabbages available as transplants. Plan ahead to get vegetables ready from seed for planting in the garden when the weather warms.

Step 1

Ensure that the variety of vegetables chosen grows well in your hardiness zone and that the growing season is long enough.

Step 2

Start tomatoes, peppers and eggplant inside six weeks before it's warm enough to plant outside, which means nighttime lows of more than 60 degrees F for warm-season crops and daytime temperatures of more than 70 degrees F.

Step 3

Fill peat pots with new potting soil. Water until the soil is thoroughly wet. Tamp down the soil. Place three seeds in each cup an equal distance from each other. Cover with 1/8 inch of soil. Mist with water. Place in a sunny window.

Step 4

Put a layer of newspapers, covered by black plastic, over the grass or sod if the vegetable bed is new. Hold down the materials with rocks. Remove the plastic and newspapers after four weeks.

Step 5

Dig up the garden bed at least 12 inches deep. Throw the dead grass in the compost pile. Spread a 4-inch layer of organic material such as aged compost over the bed. Dig that in by turning over the soil. Apply slow-release fertilizer per label directions. Turn the soil over again.

Step 6

Rake the bed smooth and remove any debris.

Step 7

Soak larger seeds such as English peas, beets, beans, corn and squash in warm water for 24 hours. Spray a paper towel until it's soaked. Sprinkle small seeds such as carrots, lettuce, chard and kale onto the towel. Cover with another towel. Spray again. Fold in half and place in a zip lock bag.

Step 8

Remove the seeds from the water. Cut the paper towels apart so there are two or three seeds per section.

Step 9

Plant tall vegetable seeds such as corn, peas and pole beans in the back of the garden. Plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep and 6 inches apart. Thin corn to 12 inches apart. Plant medium-size plants such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant in front of the tall vegetables. Space them 24 inches apart. Plant short vegetables such as bush beans in the front row. Plant bush beans 6 inches apart and 1/2 inch deep.

Step 10

Water after planting until the soil is wet to a depth of 4 inches.

Tips and Warnings

  • Birds love seedlings. Keep them away with netting.

Things You'll Need

  • Peat pots
  • Potting soil
  • Mister
  • Newspaper
  • Black plastic
  • Shovel
  • Organic material
  • Fertilizer
  • Rake
  • Hand shovel
  • Containers
  • Zip lock bags


  • "Burpee Complete Gardener"; Maureen Heffernan et. al; 1995

Who Can Help

  • National Gardening Association
Keywords: start vegetable seeds, start fruit seeds, grow from seeds

About this Author

Brian Hill's first writing credit was the cover story for a national magazine. He is the author of three popular books, "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital" and "Attracting Capital from Angels." Among his magazine article credits are the March 2005 and June 2008 issues of "The Writer." His interests include golf, football, movies and his two dogs.