Whether you are planting vegetables or flowers and growing inside in containers or directly in an outdoor bed, all successful gardens begin with a seed. For the seed to become a healthy plant that produces large fruit or blossoms, the seed needs to be planted under the proper conditions. All seeds require good soil nutrition, water and sunshine to thrive. The amount of each differs between plant varieties, so always check the seed envelope before planting to verify the specific requirements for your plants.
Prepare pots or garden beds in spring as indicated on the seed envelope. Begin most plants either outside after all danger of frost has passed or inside four to eight weeks before the last spring frost.
Fill pots with potting mix. Prepare beds by loosening the top 6 inches of soil with a hoe, then add a 2-inch layer of compost on top of the loosened soil and work in with the hoe.
Sow seeds in pots or in the bed to a depth twice that of the seeds' diameter. Sow fine seeds directly on the soil surface and cover with a 1/4-inch layer of soil. Space seeds as far apart as indicated on the seed envelope.
Water the soil well after planting and keep moist thereafter. Water potted plants until water drips from the bottom drainage holes and provide at least 2 inches of water a week for garden plants.
Keep the soil warm while the seeds germinate. Cover potted plants with plastic and place in a warm room. Lay a 1-inch layer of organic mulch or compost over garden beds to preserve soil temperature and preserve moisture.
Move potted plants to a sunny window once the seed germinates and the sprout appears, usually between seven and 21 days depending on variety. Ensure garden plants are sown in a bed that receives the recommended sunshine for the variety.