Sow Seeds Indoors or Outdoors? - Knowledgebase Question

Name: Donna Zamites
Chicago, IL
Question by urdz2
May 11, 1999
After scrolling through several areas of the library...I found out that I can start different things at different times. I have not been gardening long and only knew of the traditional way my mom planted. She went to the store in late May, bought her veggie plants and put them in the ground and by late September gardening was over.

Can you please give me some examples of what seeds I can start inside and what seeds I can plant outside and at what times to start them.

I would like to try a simple but varied garden for next year, unless I can still get more started this year.

I have just planted my outside garden yesterday with tomatoes, peppers, green beans, cucumbers, celery (first time--does it grow down?), parsley and basil. I wanted to try Brussel Sprouts but from reading Q&A page sounds like I'm too late to plants seeds outside.

Please give a beginner a little guidance for simpleness with variety.

Answer from NGA
May 11, 1999


Some plants do best if sown directly in the soil. These include: roots crops, e.g., beets, carrots, turnips, green onions; greens, such as lettuces, spinach, mustard greens, many herbs, e.g., parsley, basil, cilantro. Squash, peas, beans, celery also prefer direct sowing. (No, celery grows up--isn't gardening fun?)

Other plants do better if started early and then transplanted. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and many of the cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts). This doesn't mean that they won't grow from seed in the garden, but if you start them early inside, they will have a jump start on the growing season and can complete their life cycle before the fall frost. Determine your area's last spring frost date and then work back 6-8 weeks from that to start seeds indoors.

I think you have some nice variety going this year. Some other plants that have fairly quick growing seasons, would be radishes and lettuces. Some of the mesclun mixes with several varieties of greens are fun to try! Good luck and feel free to write with more questions.

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