Some plants are better grown from seed. Here's 9 of the best veggies to grow from a seed at-home this spring.

With the weather warming up in Adelaide, it’s a great time to get out in the garden to plant your spring crop. If you’re new to the gardening game, you might be wondering, ‘is it best to grow veggies from seeds or seedlings?’ And the answer is, ‘it depends’.

Seeds are way cheaper but seedlings – already sprouted seeds – can give you a head-start.

However, it’s not always just a case of tossing up whether you’re happy to pay extra for plants that are further along the journey – some plants just don’t like being transplanted, aka moved from one place to another.

Here’s 9 plants that are perfect for planting from seed now.

1. Carrot

Transplanting carrot seedlings damages their roots, which can result in carrots that are twisted, bent, and sometimes even split. Carrot plants grown from seed are generally healthier and more vigorous – plus, the seeds are a lot cheaper.

You will need to be patient though, as carrots are slow to germinate – that is, start growing. It can take 2 to 3 weeks to see signs of their first leaves.

To maximise success, when you plant carrot seeds create shallow and narrow channels – called furrows – in lines, and sprinkle the seeds into them. Think: sprinkling salt. The channels should be 15 to 20 cm apart.

Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and, if you have some, compost, which will hold more water and help stop your seeds from drying out between watering.

Not all seeds germinate but if you have lots pop up next to each other, ‘thin’ them by removing the extra seedlings, leaving about 2 thumbs’ width between the ones that remain – basically, you’re aiming to give them enough space for the carrots to fatten up underground.

Alternatively, let them grow a little and pluck them out at the point there are baby carrots ready to eat.

2. Coriander

Coriander hates being transplanted and grown from seedling it will usually ‘bolt’. This means that it basically skips the mature plant stage – the stage where you can harvest its deliciousness – and will go straight to flower and then seed.

While this isn’t a total loss, as the flowers will attract beneficial insects and you’ll be able to harvest the seeds for a future crop, starting from seed will usually result in healthier, happier plants and give you coriander that can be harvested for much longer.

When planting coriander seeds, put a small pinch of them in the same hole. Coriander doesn’t mind growing close together so if they all pop up there’s no need to thin them out.

3. Beetroot

Beetroot grown from seedlings will often struggle.

It won’t be impossible to get a crop, but it will be quicker to grow from seed because the shock of being transplanted can delay growth.

Growing from seed is also likely to give you a bigger plant.

Like coriander, you can put 3 to 4 seeds in the ground at once to grow a ‘bunch’ of beetroot. Space these bunches about 30 cm apart – think the length of a school ruler.

Planting in bunches like this will give you different size beetroots. If you want them all the same, stick to planting 1 or 2 seeds in a single hole, 10 to 15 cm apart, and be prepared to thin to the strongest plant – that means remove the weaker plant.

4. Corn

Corn grows quickly and doesn’t like to be transplanted. Because of this fast growth, there’s really no benefit to buying seedlings over seeds and, in fact, it’s much more cost-effective to choose the latter.

Growing corn from seed is likely to give you a healthier and stronger crop too.

Like with other seeds, put 2 in each hole, around 20 to 30 cm apart, and thin to your strongest plant.

Corn is pollinated by the wind blowing the stalks together, so put your plants side by side in blocks, not just in a row. Most corn varieties will give you 2 or 3 cobs per stalk.

5. Zucchini

Zucchinis are in the cucurbit family – also known as the gourd family.

None of the vegetables in this family enjoy being transplanted and while it may be possible, they will sometimes go into shock, resulting in stressed, stunted plants that won’t give you a lot of produce.

The seeds from this family all have a similar shape. Their first few leaves will sprout from the pointy end, so give them a head start by planting that end facing up.

Zucchini plants can get big, so make sure you have enough room. Try growing them upward on stakes, instead of along the ground.

Once you start getting fruit on your plant, keep an eye on it. Zucchinis are best picked at 20 to 25 cm long and left to their own devices, they can double in size each day!

6. Squash

Squash is another member of the cucurbit family.

Its seeds are large and grow big roots very quickly, making it impossible to not disturb them when transplanting.

When planting squash, put 2 seeds in the same hole or close together. If they both germinate, sacrifice one by snipping it off with scissors at the soil so that they don’t compete.

7. Cucumber

Cucumbers are also in the cucurbit family – do we need to say more?

Bugs like slaters love to eat the fresh juicy shoots of newly sprouted cucumber plants, so we suggest making a protective shield.

To do this, get a 600 ml drink bottle, remove the top and bottom, and cut it into rings about 10 cm wide. Push the ring about 1 cm into the ground and plant the seed in the middle. Leave it there until the plant is growing strong and healthy.

Protecting your baby plants like this is a great option for keeping your garden organic but still reducing the pressure of bugs on your veggies.

Also, slaters are actually good for the garden – they mine and turn over the soil, which is important for soil health, and are a food source for birds and other garden visitors.

8. Pumpkin

Our final cucurbit to make this list, the humble pumpkin, used in many-a-soup or roast veggie salad, is much better off grown from seed.

Pumpkins love to sprawl and climb, so you’ll need to consider how much space your pumpkin has available to grow.

With a little help, pumpkins can be trained to grow over most structures. Use some soft ties – for example, strips from old t-shirts or stockings – to gently tie the pumpkin to a store-bought or homemade trellis as it grows.

9. Beans

Beans also have big seeds and grow fast, with roots that don’t like being disturbed.

Before planting, soak your seeds overnight in water to give them a kickstart.

Beans are also a fave for slaters – they like to nibble around the developing seedlings. Try the bottle method that we described for cucumber seeds to help keep them away.

Another option that can work well is discarded toilet rolls. Push them into the ground and plant the bean seed in the middle. This small barrier will help keep most things away.

Gardening hack: Plant green beans of the climbing variety next to your corn. They will use the corn as a trellis, saving you space and making you feel like an expert gardener!

Find out more local gardening tips

Now you know what to plant, want some tips on how to? Check out our story: Simple tips for first-time vegetable gardeners planting seeds.

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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