Starting plants from seeds may seem like a challenge, but if you choose the right varieties you’ll find that there is nothing to it. In some cases seeds will sprout and grow right where you sow them in the ground.
Here is a list of 10 plants to get you started on your seed adventure. All of these plants thrive in cool temperatures so they are ideal for the spring garden or areas that have mild summer weather. And be sure to buy an extra pack for growing in your fall garden.
Spring Flowers from Seeds
If you want true blue flowers in your garden, look no further than bachelor’s buttons a.k.a. cornflowers. Direct sow seeds in the ground after the last frost date in your area. If winters are mild in your area you can sow the seeds in fall. Cover with 1/8-inch of soil. Thin when seedlings are 4 inches tall. Grow in full sun to partial shade.
In my mid-South garden I start sweet peas indoors four weeks before the last frost date. Spring is short here so the early start gives them time to bloom before it gets hot. Gardeners in cooler climates can direct-sow sweet peas in the ground and containers after all danger of frost has passed. It helps to soak the seeds overnight before planting. Cover seeds with 1½ inches of soil. Grow in full sun.
Sow seeds in the ground or containers as soon as soil can be worked in spring. Cover with ¼ inch of soil. Thin seedlings to 12 inches apart. If your climate is hot try sowing the seeds in fall for spring blooms. ‘Pacific Beauty’ is a heat-tolerant variety that I have successfully grown in my zone 7b garden.
In my zone 7b garden and other mild winter climates it is best to sow larkspur in mid-fall because the seeds need cool soil temperatures to germinate (50 to 60 degrees F). I try to get the seeds in the ground before November. In other areas sow seeds after the last frost date. Cover with 1/8-inch soil. Thin seedlings when they are 4 inches tall. Larkspur likes consistent moisture. Grow in full sun to partial shade.
These dainty flowers are truly easy to grow and they are edible! Nasturtiums don’t transplant well so it is best to direct-sow these right in containers and flower beds where you want them to grow. Do this after all danger of frost has passed. Cover with ½-inch of soil. For optimum growth the soil should not be too fertile. Don’t over water. Grow in full sun.
Spring Edibles from Seeds
Sugar Snap Peas
Spring peas are a culinary delight. If you are like me you’ll find it hard to get from the garden to the kitchen without eating them all. Peas will tolerate some frost, but are very sensitive to heat. Sow them in early spring as soon as the soil is workable. Place a seed every 2 inches. They will need support, but it can be something as simple as a string trellis or thin branches stuck in the ground. The more peas you harvest the more they will produce. You can also sow peas in late summer for the fall garden. Grow in full sun.
I refer to radishes as a gateway plant for getting kids hooked on gardening. They are ready to harvest so fast that there is no time to lose interest. Plus, even if the kids aren’t interested in eating radishes they are fun to pull from the ground and are so colorful. Sow seeds in the ground or in containers right at the last frost date before temperatures get too warm. Cover seeds with a thin layer of soil and press firmly. Thin seedlings when they have three leaves to 1 inch apart. Thinned seedlings are great in salads. Sow every 10 days in spring for a continuous crop. Grow in full sun.
Anyone can grow arugula, no matter your available space outdoors or the greenness of your thumb. You’ll find it growing in pots and flower beds throughout my garden in spring. Sow the seeds as soon as the soil is workable in spring. Arugula has the best flavor and texture when it grows fast. Consistent moisture is the key to quick growth. Sow a new crop every week for plenty of arugula through the spring. Grow in full sun to partial shade.
Homegrown lettuce is so tender it will melt in your mouth. It can be grown in containers or in beds. If you don’t have a vegetable garden, mix lettuce into your flower borders. Sow the seeds directly in the garden as soon as the soil is workable. Because lettuce seeds are small, mixing them with a little sand makes sowing easier. Cover with a thin layer of soil and press firmly. When the seedlings are 2-inches-tall thin them to 10 inches apart. Grow in full sun to partial shade.
Start spinach outdoors as soon as the soil is workable. Sow the seeds in rows directly in your vegetable beds. In containers, broadcast the seeds over the entire soil surface. Cover them with a thin layer of soil about ½ inch deep. Thin the seedlings when they are about 3 inches tall. Spinach prefers very fertile soil to encourage rapid growth and tender leaves. Try the variety ‘Round Leaf’. It has extra-large leaves that are good for stir-fries.