Garden editor Johanna Silver demonstrates how to start vegetable seeds


Starting vegetable seeds is a lot easier than you might think. In this video we use a method called broadcasting, where you gently scatter the seeds over the seedbed–no fussy rows necessary. Always read the seed package before starting. It will tell you seed depth, time until germination, time to harvest–basically everything you need to know.

Want to see the fruits of your labor quickly? Sow some radish seeds. They germinate in a few days and are ready for harvest about a month after planting. We used carrot and radish seeds to make the most of the space and enjoy a staggered harvest.

No matter what you plant, it’s important to start with soft, nutrient-rich soil. Break up any clots or compacted soil roughly 12 inches below the surface. If you’re using a container, fresh potting soil makes this quick and easy. It’s important that your container is big enough for your plant. If you are planting carrots, make sure your container is at leach 12 inches tall so they have plenty of room to grow.

Once your soil is ready, scatter the seeds over the bed. Don’t worry too much about where they land, just try to get them relatively even. You can do multiple varieties at a time, or one and then the other. Cover the seeds by sprinkling soil over the container or bed. The general rule of thumb is that seeds should be covered twice as deep as the seed is wide.

Lastly, water. You want to keep the seedbed evenly moist until they have fully germinated. After that, just don’t let it dry out. Once your plants start peeking through the soil, you’ll need to thin seedlings that are growing too close together. Leave about an inch or two around every sprout. You want enough room for a whole carrot or a whole radish to grow.

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