How to Plant Vegetable Seeds Outdoors

Peas benefit from direct sowing. image by Louise Errington/


Many plants do better started indoors and transplanted outside as seedlings. This gives them a chance to grow strong under controlled conditions before being introduced to the rigors of the outdoors. Others, such as peas, do not handle transplanting and the transition from indoors to out as well, and benefit more from being directly sown into the garden beds. There they will germinate and grow under your guiding hand. Start seeds outdoors when directed to for the particular plant variety---usually from four weeks before the last frost date in your area to right after the frost danger passes.

Step 1

Prepare your garden bed for planting. Remove all weeds and old vegetable matter from the beds. Dispose of old mulch and loosen the soil with an automatic or hand-held tiller.

Step 2

Work fresh compost into the beds. Add 1 to 2 inches over the entire bed and till it into the top 10 inches of soil.

Step 3

Sow the seeds to the depth and spacing directed on the seed envelope for the variety of plant. Sow most seeds to a depth that is twice their diameter. Sow small, fine seeds directly on the soil surface and cover with a quarter-inch layer of soil.

Step 4

Water the area well, using care not to dislodge the freshly planted seeds. Keep the soil moist at all times but not soaking. Most plants require 1 to 2 inches of water a week.

Step 5

Install stakes or a trellis immediately after planting the seeds to avoid damaging roots if they are installed later. Hammer the stakes in right behind the seed.

Step 6

Fertilize the seedlings four weeks after they emerge from the soil with a general-purpose fertilizer. Fertilize thereafter as instructed on the packaging for the particular plant type.

Tips and Warnings

  • Hard freezes can kill early season plants. Cover them with an upside-down bucket if a freeze is predicted.

Things You'll Need

  • Tiller
  • Compost
  • Stakes
  • Fertilizer


  • Ohio State University Extension
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension
Keywords: direct sowing, planting vegetables, seeding beds

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

Photo by: Louise Errington/