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No beating around bush in planting seeds

April 11, 2018

To scare birds into the air, hunters would beat the bushes. Before they could catch the birds, someone had to beat around the bushes. So ”'beating around the bush” came to mean not getting directly to the point of what you want. Sometimes in life, being direct is the most honest and best way to be. When you are direct, you save time and reduce misunderstandings, and others don't need to read into or second-guess what you are saying.

In the garden, it pays to be direct also. Many gardeners do not have the time, patience or equipment to start plants from seeds indoors. But you can and should grow many of your vegetables and flowers from seed. Several vegetables and flowers grow just fine when planted directly into the garden. In fact, for many plants it is the best way to grow.
Not only does sowing seeds save money over buying plants, but also you can choose from a wider selection of vegetables and flowers than those that are available as plants.

The key is to be sure to pick flower and vegetable varieties that will reach maturity before killing frosts. There are often quick-bearing or fast-blooming varieties available that can be easily grown from seed. Direct sow vegetables such as corn, beans, peas, squashes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, radishes, beets, and lettuce. Flowers that should be planted directly in the garden include sweet peas, marigolds, impatiens, foxglove, cleome, zinnias, cosmos, forget-me-nots, love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus), spider flowers, baby's breath, California poppy and nasturtiums.

Some seeds sprout better after they go through scarification, such as nicking the outer shell or seed coat with a file or even sandpaper to allow moisture to reach the seed. Morning glories, nasturtiums and sweet peas all sprout better after you scarify their seeds. For even better germination, soak seeds overnight in warm water before planting. Many tiny seeds shouldn't be buried at all. Seeds that need light to germinate can simply be pressed into the soil without putting any dirt over them. These include ageratum, coleus, begonias, impatiens, columbines, poppies, petunias and snapdragons.

As always, prepare your seed beds well ahead of planting time. After planting, keep the garden soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Be careful when you water so you don't wash away your seeds. Use a gentle shower setting on the hose or use a watering can with a rose water head.

Once your seedlings grow their first true leaves, thin the seedlings so they have enough room to grow. Overcrowding not only means competition for nutrients and water, but also poor air circulation which can cause mildew, mold and other diseases. As the plants grow, feed them with a diluted liquid organic fertilizer. For flowers, be careful that you do not give them too much nitrogen fertilizer, or they will grow lots of leaves and few flowers.

Direct seed your garden and you will get a wide variety of vegetables and flowers, and you won't have to beat around the bush.

  • Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P. O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.