Vegetable Seeds

Everything from Planting to Growing Vegetable Seeds Explained

How to choose the best vegetable seeds, when to buy them and how to grow them properly? If you have similar queries, go through this article for a brief overview about the various aspects of growing vegetables from seeds.
Gardenerdy Staff
Last Updated: Feb 17, 2018
We all know that seeds are used to grow plants. They are nothing other than the plant embryos that usually come with their own food supply and are enclosed within seed coats. The seed carries the genetic material from its two parents and controls the maximum quality and performance of the developed plant. Good vegetable seeds are clean, disease-free and viable to produce plants typical of the cultivar. You have to take care of a few things though, if you plan to grow them.

If you plan to grow vegetables, you may start from seeds or plants that can be bought from a nearby garden store. As compared to plants, seeds are easily available and are less expensive too. Seeds come in different varieties like hybrid, heirloom, organic, open-pollinated, etc. First of all, decide the vegetables you want to grow in your garden. Once you decide, get them from a garden store. The quantity of seeds you need is based on various factors. They include the space available for planting, the types of seeds you choose, their seeding rate and yield. If you are a beginner, it is better to gain some basic knowledge about the basics of choosing good vegetable seeds, when to buy and plant them and how to plant them in the proper manner. The following are some tips about buying and growing vegetable seeds.
  • Vegetable seeds should be disease-free. Some diseases are carried on the seed coat (such as black rot of cabbage) and can be controlled with seed treatment. Other diseases, such as blacking, are carried within the seed of plants like cabbage and cauliflower and can be fairly well controlled with a hot water treatment.
  • The seeds should have enough vitality to germinate, emerge from the soil and produce plants. A good stand is important, as a partial stand results in wasted space. Overseeding results in a costly thinning operation or reduced yield due to overcrowding.
  • Vegetable seeds require water to germinate. They can be divided into five groups, depending on how much water the seeds need, in order to germinate. It is important to recognize that this is the amount of water required to produce the crop. The rate of germination is faster at higher moisture levels than at the minimum. The amount of water in soil ranges from field capacity to the permanent wilting percentage. Field capacity is the maximum amount of water that particular soil can hold. Any additional water will drain out of the soil.
  • Vegetable seeds should be planted at a depth equal to about four times the diameter of the seed. This rule of specific planting depth has exceptions too. If you are planting during wet weather or in heavy soil, shallow planting is preferred. In dry weather or light, sandy soils, seeds should be planted deeper. Some small seeds like tomato, pepper and eggplant germinate slowly and are often planted in the garden as transplants.
  • Seeds from squash, cucumbers, melons and tomatoes are classified as wet seeds. Both summer squash and cucumbers need to be left on the plant for longer than normal. Once picked, they have many more mature seeds, if left to sit inside for four to eight weeks before being processed. Winter squash can be picked at the normal time and the seeds are best left inside for several months before being processed. Cucumbers should be left on the plant until their skin turn orange and wrinkle slightly. Tomatoes should be allowed to ripen as much as possible, not to the point of rotting, but a little past the point where you would want to eat them.
  • Beans, peas, corn, lettuce, most flowers, radishes and onions are dry seeds. These are simply left to dry on the plant for as long as possible. Some seasons are so wet that your seed will rot if not harvested before it is completely dry. The seeds get their last bits of information from the mother plant at the end, so if it must be pulled, pull the entire plant with the seeds still attached.
Now, you know the importance of time, rate and depth of planting vegetable seeds. So, choose the best seeds and plant them properly, to grow healthy vegetables.

Planting Vegetable Seeds

Vegetable seeds are classified into four categories - hardy, moderately hardy, frost-sensitive and frost-intolerant. Hardy seeds like that of peas, onion, radish, lettuce, etc., can be planted four to six weeks prior to the last frost. Moderately hardy ones like parsley, carrot and potatoes are generally planted two to three weeks before the last frost. Frost-sensitive or tender vegetables (like tomatoes and corn) have to be planted on the average date of last frost, whereas the frost-intolerant or highly tender ones (melons, peppers, etc.) have to be planted two to three weeks after the date of last frost.

Once you are ready with the seeds, prepare the containers with the growing medium. Clean the containers and line with newspapers, before adding the potting medium or soil. You may add a thin layer of sand over the newspaper, to promote drainage. If you are using a potting medium other than soil, then dampen it with a small amount of water. Fill the container with the potting medium or soil and level it, before planting the seeds as per the instructions given on the seed packet. Once done, label the container and water it slightly (if not dampened earlier). Cover it with a plastic wrap and leave it. Once the seeds germinate, remove the cover and let them grow some leaves, before thinning (if required).

How to Store Vegetable Seeds

The best way to keep vegetable or flower seeds dry and organized are to store them in little bottles or plastic margarine containers with tight-fitting lids. Simply place the extra seeds into clean, dry bottles or containers and add a few tablespoons of flour or cornmeal to each container for keeping the seeds dry. Put the containers in a cool, dark place until you are ready to plant again. You can stick pictures from the seed packet on the containers, so that you will know what seeds are inside them. If the jar is clear, just place the folded seed package inside so that you can see what the jar contains. If you have room, the best place to store seeds is the refrigerator. The seeds will remain intact in the refrigerator and most will still germinate, several years after the expiration date.

This was an overview of vegetable seeds, their selection, planting and storage. It is always better to gain a sound knowledge about the same from expert vegetable growers.
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