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easy vegetables to grow from seed

Growing your own food is an uplifting, healthy and economical way to spend your free time. However, planning a garden can seem like an intimidating task.

Maintaining a low maintenance garden is the key to successful gardening. With some careful planning, careful site selection and intelligent crop selection you can achieve an attractive garden that requires minimal upkeep.

Lettuce

Lettuce is an easy to grow cool-season vegetable that tolerates light frosts and thrives in a variety of soil conditions, even poor ones.

Lettuce thrives best in a loose, well-drained soil with an ideal pH balance and at least 6-8 percent nitrogen content. If the soil is acidic, adding dolomite or bone meal can help raise its PH level.

Sow lettuce seeds thinly, approximately 0.3-0.6 cm (1/2 inch) deep and 2.5 cm (1 inch) apart. Cover lightly and tamp the soil to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Seedlings should emerge within 2-15 days depending on variety; thin them out when they reach two to three inches tall, leaving six to eight inches between plants for sufficient room to mature.

As with most vegetables, lettuce requires consistent watering to thrive. Water should be applied liberally and evenly for the first few weeks after planting, then less frequently as the seedlings mature.

Once sprouts appear, fertilize with a high-nitrogen liquid fertilizer that contains an even balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Doing this will encourage the seedlings to form strong root systems.

Keep the soil well-drained and provide moisture to protect against downy mildew, a fungus that attacks leafy greens in wet soils. If the disease is present, remove infected leaves promptly to prevent its spread.

Lettuce is an ideal vegetable to grow, yet it still prone to pests like aphids, cutworms and earwigs. To combat these problems, apply insecticidal soap and use mulch made of straw or pine needles in order to retain soil moisture. Furthermore, rotating lettuce crops helps prevent the growth of weeds.

Spinach

Spinach is an easy to grow from seed, and can be planted in either spring or fall. While spinach will thrive in most soil conditions, it thrives best in amended soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0.

Spinach’s shallow root system requires frequent watering during the growing season to promote healthy growth. A frequent schedule, rather than a single, extended irrigation session, is recommended because it helps the plant absorb more nutrients and reduces heat buildup in the soil.

Early spring is the ideal time to sow spinach seeds directly into the garden or start them indoors six weeks prior to your area’s last frost date. Use sterile seed-starting mix and then plant them in soil that is 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit, using a seed-starting mat if necessary.

Once the seeds have germinated, thin them out to 3-5 inches apart. Harvest spinach between 38-50 days after sowing the seeds for savoy-type varieties with thick, broad leaves with often crinkled surfaces.

If you plan to consume spinach raw in salads, be sure to thoroughly wash it prior to consumption. Grit can accumulate within the leaves and become contaminated when cooked or consumed raw.

It is essential not to overwater spinach, as this can lead to bitter tasting leaves. Instead, water the base of the plants with a sprinkler system for even moisture and prevent yellowing of the leaves.

Spinach is an excellent source of iron, which aids energy production and regulates blood sugar levels. Plus, it contains vitamin C which improves eyesight and may even fight cancer.

Beets

Beets are an easy vegetable to grow from seed, provided you have a well-drained organic garden soil and enough time. Plus, they add vibrant color and flavor to salads or soups!

They can be steamed, boiled, roasted, baked or sauteed. You could also slice them raw on a salad or turn them into chips for an addictive crunchy snack.

To obtain the largest roots possible, harvest them when they reach a few inches in diameter – before they mature. However, you can harvest them at any other time as long as you’re satisfied with its size.

Plant your seeds in a raised bed or trench, spacing the rows at least an inch apart. This distance will promote strong roots and prevent weeds from taking root.

Once they reach about 3 inches tall, thin out the successful seedlings with small scissors. You can replant these thinned seedlings nearby for additional yields or use them in salads as appetizers.

Seeds can be planted directly outdoors or in a greenhouse from late spring to early summer and up until 6 weeks before the first frost of fall. You can sow successive plantings every two or three weeks as long as the daytime temperature does not exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once they’re up, give them a good soak but don’t overdo it as this could make the plants woodier and less nutritious.

Beets in the garden tend to be fairly resilient to pests and diseases, though they should still be regularly weeded and deep-cultivated when young in order to prevent root crowding and slowing their growth rate.

Carrots

Carrots are a biennial vegetable, meaning they grow green leaves and an extensive root in their first year before flowering and producing seeds in their second. Growing carrots from seed is relatively straightforward; you can sow them directly into your garden or container for easy cultivation.

For optimal carrot success, they should be planted in a loose, sandy, well-drained soil that is free from rocks and other debris. If your garden has poor soil, adding some compost or coffee grounds before planting your seeds can help improve soil quality significantly.

Once seeds are planted, make sure to water the area regularly until they sprout. Doing this helps maintain moisture in the uppermost layer of soil for successful germination.

It’s best to plant your seeds slightly thicker than desired, so that they can be thinned out later if necessary. Doing this reduces overcrowding and guarantees the highest number of carrots from each seed.

When planting carrots, you should take into account their variety. Opt for one with high levels of beta-carotene which has been known to prevent heart disease and cancer. Furthermore, select a variety that thrives in cold temperatures.

You should choose a carrot variety that is resistant to pests and diseases. Flea beetles, nematodes and Aster Yellow Disease are common problems with carrots; you can help deter these pests by spacing your rows out evenly, using row covers and weeding regularly. Alternatively, set traps for pests as they come into contact with your carrots.

Onions

If you enjoy cooking with onions but find them pricey to purchase at your local supermarket, growing your own is a great idea. It’s not difficult and you can choose from an array of varieties.

To guarantee a successful harvest of onion seeds, you must sow them in the correct location and follow the appropriate growing procedure. This involves selecting an area that receives plenty of sunshine in your garden or raised bed with soil that contains plenty of organic matter. Additionally, mixing in aged compost or rotted manure will improve soil before planting your onion plants.

Alternatively, you can sow onions from sets (immature bulbs), which are available in early spring and late summer. This method provides an earlier crop and is less susceptible to disease. Unfortunately, onions grown from sets may bolt and flower instead of producing bulbs, so it’s best to avoid this situation if possible.

Another option is to grow onion seeds in trays. These can either be planted directly in the ground or started indoors. To get started, fill each cell with seed starting mix and water thoroughly to moisten the soil. Repeat this process 3-4 times until all cells have been covered with moisture.

Once your seeds have germinated, it’s time to transplant them into their permanent garden location. They should be about the size of a pencil before being planted so make sure the soil stays well-watered throughout this process.

Onions have a shallow root system, so it’s wise to cover them with a light mulch for water retention. Straw or hay works great here but make sure the soil doesn’t dry out too quickly as this could lead to root rot. Furthermore, applying a foliar fertilizer such as fish emulsion every couple of weeks until harvest time will help ensure healthy onions.

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