GROWING vegetables and flowers at home can be rewarding and fun for the whole family. Whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or a novice, sowing seeds directly into beds or containers is an easy way to create a bountiful garden, and many can be sown throughout the summer for harvesting into the fall.
“Everything you need to know can usually be found on the seed packet,” says Chelsey Fields, a horticulturalist at W. Atlee Burpee & Co. “From what temperature it’s safe to sow the seeds outdoors, to whether they need light to germinate, you won’t have to guess how long they’ll take to start sprouting, or how deeply the seeds should be sown.”
Depending on the length of a region’s growing season, good vegetable choices include beans, peas, zucchini, and root crops such as carrots, beets and radishes. Greens such as leaf lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and arugula are easy to grow outdoors from seed and mature quickly in any region nationwide.
Want a “ready-to-snip” salad? Make meal prep fun for children and encourage them to eat what they have grown by planting a carpet of greens. “Just mix three to five types of seeds, toss into prepared soil, and use scissors to harvest the freshest, tastiest leaves you need for each meal,” says Fields. “Heatwave” Lettuce Blend is ideal since the mix is already prepared, and will grow back at least a second time for a repeat harvest. Radishes take just three to four weeks from seed to mature to eating size; most herbs are ready 60 days from sowing. A full salad and delicious herb dressing in two months’ time!
Direct-sown vegetables will take a week or two to germinate, depending on the weather. “Sow seeds in straight rows to make it easier to identify weeds,” advises Fields. “To determine the likely harvest date, check for ‘days to maturity’ on the seed packet. Direct-sown plants will require water; full sun (six to eight hours a day); rich, well-drained soil mixed with organic matter such as compost; appropriate amounts of nutrients, from compost and, if needed, fertilizer,” she adds.
No garden is complete without colorful flowers. Encourage bees and butterflies to visit by sowing flower seeds directly into borders and containers on decks, patios and other small spaces. Numerous annual flowers can be directly sown from seed, and pollinators will enjoy visiting sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias and lupines, among others.
Burpee has supplied American home gardeners with the highest-quality seeds since 1876. All of Burpee’s seeds are non-GMO.
For more information, gardening ideas and “how-to” videos on direct-sown seeds, visit www.burpee.com. North American Precis Syndicate