Planting Outside

from Spring Planting Guide
If you’re tired of worrying over your partial-shade-garden perennials and creating new container gardening combinations, try planting your flower garden designs directly from seed.

The Great Outdoors
It’s best to plant large or fast-growing seeds, such as nasturtiums and peas, directly in the garden where they will grow. Prepare the soil by cultivating the top 4 inches of soil, working in 2 inches of compost to improve its fertility and drainage. Use a garden rake to loosen the soil and break up clods. Plant seeds in rows or patches, according to package directions.

Scatter fine and medium-size seeds, such as basil and carrots, onto the soil’s surface. Mix very fine seeds, such as thyme, with sand and sprinkle the mix evenly. Cover seeds with seed-starting mix to help maintain moist surroundings and prompt seeds to sprout.

Transplant seedlings that you started indoors outside as soon as the last spring frost has passed, making sure to harden them off first. Prepare the soil as you would for seeds. To plant, loosen the seedling from its pot (you may need to run an old table knife around the inside of the planting container). Use a hand trowel to dig a hole, and set your plant in the hole. Firm soil around the base of the plant and water well. If you planted the seeds in peat pots, set the entire pot in the hole and firm in soil, making sure to cover the entire peat pot. Any part of the pot that’s exposed to the surface can act as a wick, drying out the plant too quickly.

By planting seeds, large or small, indoors or out, you can pick the perfect sweet pea color and the tastiest cucumber. Once you get growing, seed starting can be addictive! Resist the urge to grow more than you need or you’ll be inundated with seedlings, and eventually produce. Then again, what a good way to get to know the neighbors.

16 seeds to start outside
It’s always good to have a few successes in your pocket when starting a new project. Here are 16 plants that start easily outdoors from seed. Plant them outside after danger of spring frost has passed.

• bachelor’s buttons
• bean
• calendula
• coriander (cilantro)
• cucumber
• dill
• larkspur
• pea
• melon
• nasturtium
• poppy
• salvia
• squash
• sunflower
• sweet pea
• zinnia

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