Garden Basics: Planting Seeds

Planting seeds allow gardeners to get an early start on the planting season and test their skill at germination. Whether starting seeds indoors our outside, knowing how to connect seed with soil is essential in getting plants off to a good start.


  • The time of year a plant flowers does not designate the time of year its seeds are started. Some plants require cold stratification. Cold stratification is a process that activates some seeds through the constant process of freezing and thawing. Seeds needing cold stratification are planted in the fall and bloom in the spring/summer.
  • Thick and hardy seeds that are impervious to standard plant, water, and germinating routines require scarification. In nature, scarification is achieved by having the seed pass through the digestive tract of an animal. At home, scarification is done by gently nicking the seed coat which allows moisture to penetrate the seed coat (softening it) for germination purposes.

Indoor or outdoor seeding:

  • Seed packets will tell gardeners where and when new seeds should be started.
  • Root crops develop a long tap root which makes them bad candidates for indoor germination.
  • Indoor seeding requires a warm spot to keep the soil at the desired temperature for incubation and it requires light for newly sprouted plants.

Soil Preparation:

  • To find out if the soil can support your crops complete a soil test in the area where seedlings will be sown.
    • Soil testing can be done at home by purchasing a soil test kit from a local gardening center or soil can be tested cheaply and professionally by your local Cooperative Extension Services.
  • New seedlings spend a lot of their stored energy breaking ground. To help seedlings make their above ground debut, prepare the garden bed by weeding, loosening, and amending the soil before planting.


  • The planting depth of a seed greatly depends on the type of seed being sown. Seed packets will give instruction on how deeply to plant dormant seeds, but if ever you are without planting instructions remember this garden rule:seeds are planted in holes that are twice the width and depth of the seed itself.