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January 2018
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Episode 164 Direct Sowing

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What plants can be direct sowed

  1. If it makes a big root or tuber – direct sow it.
  2. If it grows really tall direct sow it.
  3. If it’s a legume direct sow it.
  4. If it’s a leafy green.

Corn, okra, sunflowers, beans, peas, potatoes, garlic, beets, turnips, parsnips, carrots (exceptions are onions, leeks).  Lettuce, mesclun, spinach, dill.

Optional direct sows (I usually do) squash, cucurbits sometimes I do.  Parsley, coriander, basil.

Really optional – tomatoes – very rarely will I direct sow.  You get a better start indoors.  But really the hardening off is reduced outdoors and you get better roots if you can get away with it.

Almost never direct sow – peppers, tobacco, more exotic things.


Typically two batches.

1.  When the soil can be worked – Beets, potatoes, turnips, carrots, greens, onions, dill, peas – typically first of march for me.

2.  After danger of frost – Corn, beans, sunflowers – typically Aprilish.


Broadcast method – used for small seeds such as root crops and greens.

Hoe up a rectangular section.  Reserve dirt. Broadcast. Jerk dirt back over.

Furrow method – used for larger seeds such as corn, beans etc.  Done in rows but rows but be in blocks. Blocks offer support and pollination. Hoe up a line of dirt.  Spread it back out evenly.  Turn the hoe and pull a furrow in.  Plant seeds.  Tip one side of dirt back into the furrow (or both).

No dig method – Used only for large seeds.  People simply will not take to this method.  I’m not sure why.  I have a planting bar I use.  It is easy and quick and never fails.  Use a stick (or planting bar) and make holes evenly distant.  Place seed in each.  Scratch dirt over or fill with compost.  This works through grass,
weeds, in hard ground, in dry ground, in wet ground.  In sand and clay and silt and loam.

When the plants come up you really need to think about thinning (save the small greens!) and mulching.

Watering?  NO!!!

Nature typically gives the signals here.  If you water and then a drought hits you can stunt them.  This can happen in nature as well but let nature take its course.  Once the plants sprout then you can use water (very conservatively) as needed.  Water causes the plants to set shallow roots and that means no support and resiliency.  If they find their own water they can always access it.

4 comments to Episode 164 Direct Sowing