6 tips and tricks for easier seed planting

Sowing seeds directly into the outdoor soil is one of gardening’s true pleasures. The outdoor environment is a seed's natural habitat, of course, which often makes planting directly outside the best option for giving plants a healthy start. Sowing directly is especially recommended for plants that don’t transplant well, such as carrots and radishes. Many heat-loving plants, such as cucumber, pumpkin, melons and squash, thrive when they are sown directly.
Plants grown outside from seed harbor fewer pests and become stronger than their indoor counterparts because they spend their entire existence in their native soil. Follow these six simple tips, and you can experience the joy and satisfaction of watching plants and vegetables break through the soil in your backyard garden.
1. Prepare the soil
Loosen the soil with a rake or hand fork. Get rid of all the debris that accumulated over winter, and break up any clumps of soil. Add fertilizer or compost, and rake the soil until you have a level surface.
2. Check the seed packet
The packet the seeds came in provides information such as the best time to plant (typically when there is less than a 50 percent chance of frost), the depth to sow and spacing. When sowing very small seeds, such as carrots, mix them with sand to help disperse them. For large seeds, create a long furrow and space the seeds at the proper interval.
3. Keep them moist
After you plant the seeds, water them with a gentle mist or shower. A strong spray can dislodge them. Keep soil consistently moist. In a sunny spot, you might need to water more than once a day. Watering is key: Too little moisture can keep the seeds from germinating, but too much can cause seeds to rot.
4. Mark rows
Using stakes and string or any kind of tall stick, mark planting rows to remind you where the seeds are buried. Fasten the seed packet to one of the markers. That will tell you what's in the ground as well as letting you know when the seedlings should start peeking through.
5. Get to know the seedlings
You should know what the seedlings will look like when they sprout or you might think they are weeds and pull them. The seed packet might have a photo of the plants or you can look onlines. If you aren't sure, play it safe and don't remove the plant. You can always take it out later.
6. Thin them
Check the seed packet for thinning instructions. Instead of pulling the seedlings, snip them at the soil line to prevent disturbing the roots of the remaining seedlings.

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