Difference Between Transplanting and Direct Sowing

There are two alternative methods to establish plants, each with its own processes and goals.

The transplanting method starts seeds indoors, usually in a seed tray or small pot.  A few weeks later, little seedlings appear. The seedlings should have several sets of genuine leaves and a nascent root system by the time you transplant them into the garden. However, direct sowing involves putting seeds directly in the ground.

For specifics on planting depth, spacing, and other important information, refer to the product page

Both strategies have advantages and disadvantages. You have greater control over the growth environment, including moisture and temperature, when you start seedlings indoors. Frost, wind, or the need to construct an outdoor cold frame won't be a concern for you.

On the other hand, plants grown from seed in the garden usually have more robust root systems than plants transferred from pots when you direct sow. They have a better chance of surviving in the long run if they can sprout.

Tips for Planting Seeds

Vegetable seeds: direct-sow root crops that don't transplant well as seedlings, such as radishes or carrots. Although beets grow best in chilly soil, they can be started indoors and transplant well.

Direct seeding heat-loving crops that require a long growth season—like tomatoes, peppers, or eggplant—does not produce as well, especially in areas with short growing seasons.

Seeds should be started inside. Other heat-loving crops, such as melons, beans, squash, cucumbers, and pumpkin, grow well when sown directly after all the risk of frost has passed.

Flower Seeds: Certain flowers, such as Bachelor's Buttons, Larkspur, and Sweet Peas, sprout best in chilly soil and should be seeded directly early in the growing season. Additionally, you should direct-sow bloomers like morning glory, nasturtium, poppies, and moonflower that do not transplant well as seedlings.

It is better to start annuals that take a long time to mature from seed indoors. Cleome, Petunia, Nicotiana, and Amaranth are a few examples. Direct seeding of other warm-season annuals, such as Cosmos, Marigold, and Zinnia, promotes rapid growth.

How to Plant Seeds in Your Garden Directly

Here are some guidelines to follow for the best outcomes when directly sowing seeds into your garden soil. The act of equally dispersing seeds over a prepared surface, such as a garden bed or field, is known as sowing. Usually, a seed spreader or hand labor is used for this.

1. Depending on the particular needs of the plant, seeds are typically planted either directly on the soil's surface or only slightly covered. The type of seed and the qualities of the plant determine how deep to sow.

2. Smaller seeds or resilient plants that can sprout and thrive without the need for special care or protection are frequently sown.

3. Crops, including grains, grasses, and some vegetables like radishes, carrots, and lettuce, are frequently sown.

Improve the soil: 

In order to improve the soil's nutrient content, work some bagged topsoil or homemade compost into the top six inches of the soil before sowing. A few weeks before planting, you can further encourage the growth of good soil bacteria by covering the soil's surface with cardboard and egg cartons.

Get rid of weeds:

You can encourage weed seeds to sprout before sowing your own if they are already present in the soil's surface. To accomplish this, cover the ground with clear plastic sheeting to raise soil temperatures and encourage seed germination. When weed seeds grow and germinate, pull them up from the ground, being careful to get both the crowns and the roots.

It is optional to make rows or furrows:

To direct the planting of the seeds, you may choose to make rows or furrows (little trenches) in the soil, depending on the needs of the plant. Depending on the kind of seeds you're planting, these furrows will have different depths and spacing.

Plant your seeds in the early spring or late winter:

See the product page and the USDA plant hardiness zone map for details on the best time to plant. Keep in mind that planting schedules can change based on your location. It's a good idea to plant seeds eight or ten weeks before the final frost.

Spread seeds out at the appropriate depth:

The depth of planting affects seed germination. Plant the seeds of larger shrubs and vegetables at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed.

To ensure complete coverage, gently press little seeds into the soil, making sure they are deeply buried. You can manually plant flower seeds and rake the ground to bury them.

Use light water:

While you should moisten the soil where your seeds are planted, do not overwater. Around seeds, the soil should be damp but never become wet from standing water. The finest results will come from a regular irrigation schedule that uses a drip system.

Occasionally thin out seedlings:

It will be impossible for any young plants to flourish if there are too many of them close to one another. Periodically thin seedlings to allow the surviving plants to reach their full potential.

After the seedlings are fully grown, add mulch:

Till plants erupt from the earth and their stems start to firm up, do not mulch the soil. Mulch restricts air and water flow while also impeding weed growth and water evaporation. Mulch helps established plants, but not seedlings.

Give adequate care:

Make sure the area you sowed gets the right amount of sunlight, water, and attention based on the demands of the particular plant. Refer to the seed packet's care instructions or gardening references for advice.


How to Transplant Seedlings in Your Garden 

1. Planting is the process of putting one or more seeds into a prepared hole or soil furrow. Planting depth and spacing are determined by the particular needs of the plant.

2. Planting is frequently done with larger seeds or plants that can need extra attention and safeguarding in their early stages of development. It makes it possible to precisely regulate where the seed is planted.

3. Trees, bushes, beautiful flowers, and larger garden veggies are frequently planted.

Which Seeds Are Suitable for Indoor Seeding?

Long-season crop seeds should generally be started inside. These types of crops include cabbage, pumpkins, eggplant, okra, tomatoes, broccoli, kale, and peppers. You may begin cultivating seedlings in late winter and wait for the climate to warm before starting long-season crops indoors.

Consider the response a plant has to being moved. Some plants just don't handle the stressful shift in environment well, and root vegetables like carrots, radishes, beets, and turnips usually don't do well when their roots are disturbed.

Beginning Indoor Transplantation: Detailed Guide on Indoor Seed Starting

By starting seeds indoors, you can extend the growing season and shield young plants from most pests, giving you an earlier harvest. Start your seeds indoors prior to the growing season to ensure ideal conditions for seed germination.

Soak some of the seeds:

Tough-skinned seeds, such as those for pumpkins, squash, parsley, and chard, are better off being exposed to some moisture before planting. In the process of germination, this gives the seed an advantage. Put your seeds in a bowl of warm water for 8 to 12 hours.

Read more about paper towel germination technique: The paper towel method is an additional technique that speeds up the germination process. Wet a piece of paper towel, sprinkle your seeds on it, split it in half, and then place it inside a plastic bag. Seal the bag while allowing a space for air to circulate in a warm location until the seeds start to sprout. After they germinate, place the seeds in the soil where they will germinate, paying caution not to harm the delicate sprouts.

Select a container that has holes for drainage:

Drainage helps keep the soil from getting soggy, so make sure the container you choose has holes in it to let extra water out. Seed-starting trays purchased from stores have a humidity dome and pre-cut drainage holes.

Peat pots offer superior drainage and, once seedlings are fully grown, can be planted straight into the ground outside, minimizing root trauma during transplanting.

If you make your own drainage holes in the bottom, you may even use tiny conventional pots or even egg cartons. Remember to add a drip tray beneath your container to collect any extra moisture and debris.

Fill your container with seed starting mix:

The constituents of the seed starting mix are not soil particles; instead, they consist of perlite, vermiculite, peat moss, coco coir, and occasionally compost.

You don't have to worry about fungal illnesses because it is sterile, has good drainage, and facilitates sprouting. You must first moisten your starting mix with water before filling the containers.

How do you determine if you have the ideal water-to-mix ratio?

Tightly crush a handful of mix to get the perfect water to mix ratio. It's too damp if water pours out of it. It's too dry if there's no water coming out. It's perfect if a few drips of water leak out. After the starting mix has been thoroughly moistened, fill your containers to a quarter of the way to the top and push the mixture down until it is flat and firmly packed.

Sow the seeds:

For details on planting depth and spacing, review the seed specification on the product page. It's generally recommended to bury seeds twice as deeply as they are long. After being buried, firmly compact the mixture with your hand.

Tiny seeds such as lettuce, petunia, and snapdragon need light to germinate; you should leave them on the surface of the mixture rather than burying them.

Put a lid on your box:

To keep the moisture and heat in your seeds long enough for them to germinate, cover them with a layer of plastic wrap or a plastic dome.

It's ideal to keep your container in a warm spot with some indirect sunlight, but always refer to the instructions on the product page, as some seeds need complete darkness to germinate.

Try warming the starting mix from the bottom using a heat mat to expedite the germination process if needed.

Water the seeds you planted. Check to see if the starter mix is still moist about once a day. Avoid using a watering can if it looks dry, as this could wash away the fragile seeds.

If you want the mix to absorb water from below, you may either submerge the container in a bigger tray of water or use a bottle of spray to mist the surface of the mix.

When the seeds begin to germinate, open your container:

According to the type of seed, the germination process can take shorter or longer than two weeks.

Transplant seedlings in direct sunlight:

A minimum of six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day are required for most seedlings. Plant your seedlings in a spot with lots of light, like a window sill facing south.

To ensure that the seedlings receive equal lighting, turn them frequently, whether you're using artificial or natural light.

Make sure to gradually bring your seeds into stronger light levels in phases if you let them germinate in the dark, so they won't be startled by a sudden change in environment.

When planting seeds in the gloomier winter months or in residences with limited natural light, set an artificial grow light six inches above the seedlings.

Fertilize when necessary:

Fertilization should usually start four to six weeks following seeding. When a seedling develops its second set of leaves, it is prepared for fertilizer.

These leaves, which are referred to as the real leaves, are a sign that your seedling is getting ready to grow. Using a compost-based seed starting mix eliminates the need for fertilizer since the compost contains all the nutrients needed. 

Remove excess space from seedlings:

To prevent crowding, seedlings that grow too big to occupy the same container space must be moved to a separate container. Make sure your seedling looks healthy enough to handle the move before transplanting.

Fill the new container with moist potting mix. Next, make a hole in the potting soil that is big enough for the roots of the seedling using a popsicle stick or a teaspoon.

Try not to hit the seedling's roots as you carefully remove it from the starting mix using the same tool. Place the seedling into the hole you made in the potting soil, holding it by its topmost leaves.

Reposition the potting soil around the roots of the seedling, being careful not to compact the soil too much.

Harden off your seedlings:

The process known as "hardening off" involves progressively exposing indoor seedlings to outdoor elements such as wind, cooler temperatures, and direct sunshine in order to prevent shock from a sudden change in environment.

Start this procedure 10 to 14 days before the transplant date by putting your seedlings outside for an hour each day in an area shielded from the sun and wind.

Increase the amount of time your seedlings spend outside by an hour each day, and expose them to increasing amounts of sunlight.

Move your seedlings outside:

It's time to move your seedlings to an outside garden bed or container once the weather is just right. Usually shortly after the season's final frost, they have adapted to the outdoors.

If at all possible, try transplanting during a cloudy day. To find out how much room each seedling needs in the garden to grow, check out the product page.

Spread out a seedling's weak roots gently so as not to damage them while transplanting it to a new location. Give the seedling one more drink of water to make sure its roots are properly buried in the new soil.