How to Sow Vegetable Seeds


Sowing vegetable seeds into the garden is a necessity for many plants that don't transplant well as seedlings. Legumes, carrots and celery are examples of vegetables that should be directly sowed into the bed. Always check the seed packet for the optimum planting time. Some vegetables cannot tolerate frost so must be planted after frost danger passes in spring, while others do not tolerate heat so must be planted earlier. Preparing your bed for planting in the fall ensures it is ready for early season sowing when necessary.

Step 1

Prepare a well-draining garden bed in an area that receives six to eight hours of sunlight a day. Remove any weeds and garden debris from the bed and place a 3-inch layer of compost on top. Till the compost into the bed to a 10-inch depth using a hoe or power tiller.

Step 2

Make a shallow furrow for each row of small seeds by dragging the tip of the hoe handle over the top of the soil. Create hills by mounding soil slightly for larger plants that require hills such as cucumbers. Check the seed envelope to see if the vegetable variety requires hill or row planting.

Step 3

Sprinkle small seeds evenly into the furrows you made. Tear off one corner of the seed packet and tap the opposite side with your finger so the seeds fall out and into the furrow evenly. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. Check the seed packet for the exact seeding amount per foot of row.

Step 4

Plant larger seeds such as legumes to a depth four times their width. Follow the seed packet recommendations for exact spacing requirements between plants and rows.

Step 5

Water the soil just enough to moisten it. Use a mist attachment on the hose to avoid washing away the seeds with a heavy spray of water.

Step 6

Thin the seeds as necessary once they germinate and begin growing. This is usually only necessary with small seeds such as those from carrots. Pluck out the excess seedlings between plants until each plant is spaced properly as outlined on the seed packet.

Tips and Warnings

  • Keep the bed well weeded until the plants reach their full size. Once plants are near maturity they shade out most weeds on their own.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Hoe
  • Mist hose attachment


  • University of Illinois Extension: Planting Vegetable Seeds
Keywords: sowing vegetable seeds, starting a garden, direct sowing

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.