With thousands of seeds to choose from, gardeners have a plethora of never-ending possibilities. The basic directions for planting seeds are always the same: make a hole in the ground (or in potting soil), put the seed in the hole and cover the hole with dirt. For successful gardening, though, consider the individual needs of plants. Variables include time of year to plant, length of time needed for germination and watering needs.
Plant vegetable seeds outdoors in fertile, well-draining soil after all chance of frost has passed. Dig a trench 1/2-to-1 inch in depth with the pointed end of a hoe. Place seeds in the trench approximately 2 inches apart and cover with soil. Always consult the seed packet for exact depth and spacing. Smaller seeds such as lettuce, carrots and broccoli are planted more shallowly and closer together. Large seeds such as pumpkin and squash are planted more deeply and farther apart, or in hills. Some vegetable crops, known as cool-season crops are planted four weeks before the last expected frost. These crops include peas, lettuce, carrots, onions, kale and spinach, to name a few.
Start slow-growing plants indoors in seed-starting trays. Plants such as tomatoes, peppers and some annual flowers thrive in warm weather, but take a long time to mature. In temperate climates, these plants won't mature before frost comes in the fall. Fill a seed-starter tray with sterile starting mix. Poke a hole 1/8-inch deep in each starter cell with a chopstick and put a seed in. Cover lightly with starting mix and mist with a spray bottle filled with water. Cover the seed-starting tray with a layer of plastic wrap and keep in a warm place (on top of the refrigerator) until the seeds germinate. Remove the plastic wrap and place the tray in a sunny location.
Soak hard-shelled seeds such as morning glory, passion flower and moon flower in 1/2 cup water mixed with 1 tbsp. vinegar for 24 hours. Soaking these seeds will break down their hard shells, hastening germination. Additionally, carrots are notoriously slow to germinate. After digging a trench as detailed previously, run a slow trickle of water in the trench for 10 minutes to thoroughly wet it. Plant the seeds as directed by the seed packet. The moisture speeds up germination.
Plant organic seeds if growing organically is important to you. Planting requirements are the same, but search out the organic label on seed packets.