The Q&A Archives: Starting Seeds In The Ground

Question: I do not have the space or the conditions to be able to start seeds in my home. I would like to plant a vegetable and flower garden this spring, but I am not sure if seeds will be successful if I can't start them inside first. I also don't know what time to start planting here in Iowa. I am a beginning gardener so any tips you have would be great!

Answer: Many gardeners grow wonderful flowers and vegetables by starting them directly in the ground! Your local County Extension (337-2145) should be able to help you determine which varieties do best in your area and also tell you the last average frost date for your area so you can figure out when to plant the seeds. Some, such as peas and spinach and seed potatoes, can be planted very early. Others do better if seeded after frost and when the ground has warmed. These would include tomatoes, peppers, melons and squash. They may bear a bit later than plants started indoors, but you will still have a fine crop. Some flowers to plant from seed include many of the most popular annuals such as marigolds and zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos, tithonia, sweet alyssum, nasturtiums and morning glories. Gladiola bulbs and dahlias are also fun to plant and save from year to year. Since you are new to gardening you may want to look at a book or two for some basic information about soil preparation and planting techniques and ongoing care. I particularly like the "Dummies" series for its straighforward approach and step by step information. It includes books on growing vegetables and annuals. Have fun with your garden!

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