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Apr 19, 2009 10:11 AM

vegetables & herbs you really ought to grow from seed

People are talking about the ease of locating plants to transplant rather than direct seed.

I want to make the case that there are some things that are easier and make lots more sense to grow from seed. Sure, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers make sense to buy plants if you don't want to start indoors earlier, and they produce in one cycle -- one plant, all season. Period.

Other vegetables and herbs make much more sense to direct seed -- they're just too easy, some don't like to be transplanted, and some only last part of the season and will need to be reseeded (or replanted when the season is late and there are none left!) Also, some things you just can't get at the market, such as zucchini blossoms!

Lettuce. You can buy a 6-pack but most it's easier to seed a row. They come up in a few days if you water them (they'll need that), then you pull some out to give them space, and voila! Your lettuce crop.

Arugula, spinach -- just too easy, same as lettuce, and you can put in now in northern climes where I am.

Mizuna -- a great tasty peppery green for salads and/or cooking.

Cilantro -- needs to be reseeded every few weeks because it goes to seed.

Dill -- ditto

Zucchini. No one will say they lack a green thumb once they stick 4 seeds in the ground and up come the sprouting plants in a few days. Also, the variety you can get by seeds is so much greater -- and tastier -- than the standard commercial variety. Why not plant a delicious Italian variety that bears a lot of male blossoms, and then stuff and fry them. Mmm good!

Cucumber -- easy as zucchini. And they resent transplanting.

Swiss chard
easy. Plant a row and you'll have garden fresh greens all season.

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  1. Don't forget radishes...they grow like weeds. Just drop some seeds and water. Sow every few weeks for a continual supply through the spring.

    Others that direct sow well: peas, beets, beans, and cole crops

    1. Carrots - they definitely need to be direct seeded. Mix those teeny seeds in with some sand and sprinkle a line across the garden. Less thinning required and you can see exactly where they are.
      Nasturtium - they direct sow really well and the leaves are lovely in a salad, peppery like Mizuna.

      I'd say the benefits of planting your own seeds (either by direct sowing or growing your own transplants) is it keeps the cost down significantly and you can get a hold of a larger range of varieties.

      1. Beets - plant in the mid-Atlantic at the same time as radishes and carrots. We plant Golden Beets and a red variety
        Beans- both snap beans and asian long beans, beans seem to grow with little or no effort and we have a long lasting crop.
        Parsnips - really! We plant in the early spring and harvet after the Fall frost
        Bok Choy - easy to grow and saves a trip to the Asian market. Looking forward to stir fried baby bok choy in a few weeks

        Our current Spring garden - all from seed - carrots, lettuce (butter, romaine and red leaf mix), parsnips, mizuna, bok choy, radishes (white, red and pink), beets (red and golden), onions (red and white), and cilantro

        1. peas, beans, arugula. and sunflowers...

          1. I totally agree, but in FL with it already in the 80's, sometimes the small tender seedlings suffer. I always start mine in small seedling pots and then transplant, just much easier I have found. Even in winter you can get mid 80's and bright sun which can be hard for little seedlings unless proper coverings. But agreed seeds are better for somethings but climate down here and even further south can be hard on them, just as cold nights can also be hard on small seedlings.