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Get Started Growing From Seed in the Square Foot Garden

Written by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin

Generic open seed packets If you’re a new gardener, you might start out by buying seedlings from nurseries to transplant into your Square Foot Garden. But growing from seed is just as easy – and comes with a wealth of wonderful benefits. 

Let’s dig into the reasons why you should sow seeds, which plants to sow directly in your raised beds, and which ones need a head start indoors on a sunny windowsill. 

If you’ve been wanting to try this type of gardening but have been too unsure of yourself to try, we’re here to provide you with some motivating reasons to jump in and go for it. 

Keep reading to learn more! 

Why You Should Try Growing From Seed 

seedling grow square

Freshly germinated seedlings are an inspiration to new and seasoned gardeners alike.

First of all, you’ll save a lot of money. You may spend roughly the same amount for a packet of seeds as you’ll spend on a four-pack of nursery-grown transplants. However the packet may contain enough to plant 20, 50, or even hundreds of plants, depending on the type. The savings are obvious – a single pack of seeds will keep you growing produce for at least a few years – if not longer! And if you start saving your own, you won’t even have to purchase packets ever again. 

Another reason to take up this propagation method is that sowing opens the door to a wide range of exciting varieties. Your local garden nursery may carry a dozen or so different tomato varieties if you’re lucky. But when you grow these summer delicacies from seed you will have literally hundreds of options and will be able to try varieties that offer the precise combination of flavor, texture, days to maturity, and coloration that you want. You may even be able to source locally adapted varieties! 

Another very practical concern is that some crops don’t do well when transplanted, so direct sowing is really a necessity for a good harvest. These include carrots, beets, and beans, to name a few. 

And last but not least, there are few things more exciting in the gardening world than witnessing a newly sprouted seedling. Growing produce in this way can be an engaging opportunity for kids (and the young at heart) to understand where food comes from. The magic of seeing a seemingly lifeless object turn into a thriving plant is something that just never wears off! 

Crops That Can Be Directly Sown From Seed 

Now that you’re feeling inspired to grow produce the old fashioned way, you may be wondering if you can plop any and all seeds directly into your Square Foot Garden. 

Most garden vegetables can be direct sown, and some are even more successful with this method of propagation. 

These crops do best when directly sown into Mel’s Mix because they don’t like transplanting:  

  • planting seeds in a square foot garden

    Direct sowing is preferred when possible, as it saves time and energy.

    beets 

  • bush beans 
  • carrots 
  • corn 
  • cucumbers 
  • fennel 
  • melons 
  • okra 
  • peas 
  • pole beans 
  • pumpkins 
  • spinach 
  • Swiss chard 
  • summer squash 
  • winter squash 

Additionally, the following can either be direct sown, or started indoors if so desired: 

  • bok choy 
  • broccoli raab 
  • bunching onions 
  • cabbage 
  • collards 
  • kale 
  • leeks 
  • lettuce 
  • Napa cabbage 
  • shallots 

Crops That Should Be Started Indoors 

 

Seedling in a pot on a windowsill

Seedlings can be grown in a sunny windowsill or, in some climates, in a cold frame.

Vulnerable to cold weather, these plants are best grown indoors and transplanted as seedlings after conditions warm: 

  • eggplant 
  • ground cherries 
  • peppers 
  • tomatoes 
  • tomatillos 

There are also some cool season crops that are generally started indoors for better success: 

  • broccoli 
  • brussels sprouts 
  • cauliflower 
  • celery 

If you find this blog informative, consider donating to the Square Foot Gardening Foundation. Your support helps us to continue providing tips, resources and the mission of Square Foot Gardening.  

Kristina Hicks-Hamblin

Kristina Hicks-Hamblin lives on a small permaculture-style farm in the high desert of Utah, USDA Hardiness Zone 5b. She is a Certified Permaculture Designer, holds a Certificate in Native Plant Studies from the University of North Carolina Charlotte Botanical Gardens, and a Landscape for Life certificate through the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden. Kristina strives to create gardens where there are as many birds and bees as there are edibles, and has been using Square Foot Gardening as a guiding light since 2012.

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