Direct Seeding Vegetables

Most plants can be sown directly into your garden – this is called direct seeding.  Direct seeding is the easiest way to plant vegetables as you simply place the seeds where they’ll grow – there’s no starting seeds indoors and therefore no transplanting. 

Direct seeding is usually the best option for fast-growing vegetables and for vegetables with tap roots.  Tap rooted vegetables, in particular, don’t like to be transplanted as their roots are delicate and prefer stable, bulky soil around them.  Some of the best candidates for direct seeding include carrots, radish, spinach, lettuce, squash, cucumbers and sunflowers.

Once you’ve chosen your plants to seed into the garden, it’s just a matter of when to do it.  If you plant too early or too late, it can affect the health of the plant or the amount of your harvest respectively.  As part of garden planning, you need to research the ideal planting timelines for each plant.  The ideal timing is usually measured as the ‘last frost date’ plus or minus a number of weeks. For Toronto, the last frost date occurs in the first week of May. 

Here’s a sample list of when to direct seed certain vegetables:

Vegetable SeedsPlanting Date (vs Last Frost Date)
Bok Choi3 weeks before
Collards3 weeks before
Peas3 weeks before
Carrots3 weeks before
Spinach2-3 weeks before
Beets2-3 weeks before
Chard2-3 weeks before
Lettuce2-3 weeks before
Mustard1 weeks before
Radish1 weeks before
Turnips1 weeks before
Kale1 weeks before
PotatoesSame week
Cucumbers2-3 weeks after
Melons2-3 weeks after
Squash2-3 weeks after