Before Sowing Seeds
It goes without saying (but we'll say it again), you can't just scatter seeds on the ground and expect all the plants to grow! Just like humans, plants need the right environment, nutrition and water. Here are a few things to keep in mind before planting your seeds:
Have a plan. Know where vegetables go. For example, consider which vegetables need shade and which vegetables are tall so they don't overshadow shorter plants. Also, plant so that you can get to the center of the row or bed easily enough to weed, water and harvest. Provide permanent beds for perennial crops such as rhubarb, asparagus and some herbs.
Prepare the soil. Your seeds need rich, fertile soil to grow. In the spring, add organic matter and work it into the soil, digging about 1 foot to loosen the soil. Alternatively, do what many gardeners do and add organic matter in the fall so it needs little work in the spring.
Remove the weeds. The area must be weed free before planting the seeds! Otherwise, weeds are competitors for water and nutrients.
Apply fertilizer. In spring - shortly before planting - work fertilizer into the soil. A soil test will help identify soil deficiencies.
Use quality seed. Seeds have a shelf life, and while you can often get away with using older seeds, be prepared for lower germination.
Running inside. For vegetables that grow slowly from seed, try starting the seeds indoors a few weeks before your planting date. Vegetables that grow slowly from seed and are ideal for starting in door include: tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant and peppers.
Preparing crops for the warm season. Before planting warm-season crops, especially cubits, you can warm the soil using various techniques, such as creating a mound or mound and/or using black plastic. To create a mound, mound the soil to create a low, wide mound about 8 to 10 inches high. Place any black plastic on the soil surface as early as possible in the spring. Simply cut a hole in the plastic in the area where you want to place the plant; the plastic will keep the soil warmer and suppress weeds around the plant.
Protect seedlings from frost. If planting in early spring, be prepared to insulate young seedlings from cold weather - from bells to row covers.
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