About to start a home vegetable garden for the first time but got a few questions before you begin planting? Look no further. Here’s everything you need to know to get your veggie seeds in the ground.

So you’ve decided to plant a vegetable garden but not sure about the whole planting process?

Before you begin, you might like to brush up on which plants are most likely to be successful planting from seed.

Now for the nitty gritties:

How deep are you supposed to plant a seed?

Seeds should be planted 1 to 2 times as deep as the seed is big. This means that little seeds, like those of carrots and basil, only need to be under a sprinkle of soil, while beans and peas need to be a few centimetres deep.

How far apart should you plant seeds?

When working out how far apart to plant your seeds, consider what they will turn into.

Those that become larger plants, like tomatoes and pumpkins, will need more space between them so they have room to grow.

Other veggies, like lettuces, can be planted closer together because they have smaller root systems and don’t grow very wide or tall.

Do vegetable seeds need to be watered every day?

The short answer is yes.

Seeds need to be kept moist, so you’ll need to water them a little bit every day until they start growing their first leaves. Be careful not to water to the point the soil is soggy though – seeds can rot in too much water!

Once the plants are a bit bigger, they can handle a day or 2 without water. The key is to keep checking the soil – if it’s dry, your baby plant won’t like it.

Small seeds planted just under the soil surface will dry out quicker than bigger seeds deeper down.

Unfortunately self-watering pots, where water collects and is stored at the bottom, don’t work very well for newly-planted seeds and seedlings because they don’t have roots big enough to reach down and suck up the water.

If you’re planting in these, you’ll still need to water from above until the plant is established.

Do I need to prepare my seeds before planting?

Generally your best bet for seed preparation info is to check the seed packet, as it often has any special instructions, specific to the vegetable you’re planting.

However, if you’ve been gifted seeds or long-lost the packet then your best bet is to pop it into the ground, making sure it’s at the appropriate depth and is watered. Seeds will grow when the environment is right for them.

Big, hard seeds like beans, corn and peas can be helped along by soaking them overnight before planting.

Tip: Invest in a bag of vermiculite – a lightweight mineral that holds a lot of water – and sprinkle it on top of your freshly planted seeds, especially the small seeds that are planted just under the surface of the soil. This natural product will work wonders in helping stop your seeds from drying out – overall, improving your veggie gardening success.

How long will my seeds take to grow?

It depends on the plant and the temperature of your soil. Some seeds will germinate in about 4 to 5 days, while others will take a few weeks.

Patience is important – but it’s worth it to enjoy that home-grown goodness just steps from your back door.

Generally, the time from planting seeds to enjoying your delicious produce is 3 to 4 months. While this is longer than if you planted already-established seedlings, seeds have the upper hand because they’re way cheaper and for many veggies, the results are likely to be more worthwhile.

Spring onions can be grown all year round.
Spring onions can be grown all year round.

Can you grow plants out of season?

Your best bet is to grow what’s in season.

While some plants, like spring onions, can be grown all year round, most have a preferred temperature. Discover what’s growing well in Adelaide this month.

Keep the weather in mind though – for example, is it wetter and colder than normal? If so, your seeds will likely take a little longer to germinate.

This will also help you avoid the common mistake of planting all your spring vegetables on the first day of spring, before the weather has actually warmed up.

Top tip for spring planting: Stagger your planting so you don’t get a bumper crop of one thing all at the same time – unless that’s what you want! To do this, plant a few seeds in 2- to 4-week intervals throughout spring so you can harvest gradually throughout summer.

Find out more local gardening tips

Just beginning your food gardening journey? Head to our food gardening hub for more tips and tricks.

This article was originally published in October 2022.

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