Think sowing annual seeds in the ground is time wasted and not worth getting your gardening gloves dirty for? Well, that might not be the case. Here are some reasons you should consider direct-sowing seeds. If nothing else, it provides good motivation to get you and your gardening gloves into the garden.
The Ground Rules
Seeds are inexpensive, you have more choice in varieties when you direct-sow, and some plants like zinnias with delicate roots fare better from seed than from nursery transplants.
First read the seed packet directions to determine seed depth and spacing. Then prepare the area by loosening the soil, removing weeds and working in organic compost. Finally, smooth the area.
Row by Row
One way to plant is to make furrows for the seeds. Either tap the seeds out as you move along the rows or individually place larger seeds.
To create a meadow look, evenly broadcast seeds, like a California native wildflower mix, over a bed or an area, then rake lightly to barely cover the seeds with soil.
Rule of (a green) thumb is to plant a seed twice as deep as the width of the seed.
No matter what the sowing method, remember that all seeds need a fine spray of water and need to be kept moist (not soggy) until they sprout.
When seedlings have two sets of leaves, thin those too closely spaced to avoid crowding.
Make sure your seeds are fresh and dated for the current year.
Where to Buy
Shop online or at your local nursery.
The Mill Valley Library has an ingenious seed-lending library called SeedSmart, where you can check out seeds, grow them and return any new seeds.
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Kier Holmes is a native, Marin-based landscape designer who works at M2 Design and Construction, for over 15 years, has artfully designed and created sustainable gardens that are dynamic year round. She also writes for Gardenista, is an elementary school garden educator, a garden speaker for adults and leader of the Garden Club for kids at the Mill Valley Library. Holmes readily admits that she is a nerd about all things plant related, and can geek out on a dinner-plate dahlia like nobody’s business. Her natural habitat is among flowers and her hands are almost always dirty.