Seed Planting

Seeds should be planted as deep as the thin vertical dimension of each side. Lima and fava beans may be planted on their sides. Their root systems, which emerge from an eye, can grow straight down. The seeds should be covered with humus-containing flat soil, which is similar to the soil with decomposed plant matter found over germinating seeds in nature. The compost stimulates the germination process.

Lima Bean Growth Chart

Seeds, whether they are planted in beds or in flats, should Hexagonal spacing:

, 1^1- 1- 11 <•<• , i 1 • j j Leaf lettuce is spaced on 8-inch be planted in a diagonally offset or hexagonal spacing pattern centers.

with an equal distance between each seed. The Master Charts later in this chapter tell how far apart to space different types of plants. When plants are mature in flats or planting beds, their leaves should barely touch. Appropriately spaced plants form a living mulch, which retards weed growth, aids in the retention of soil moisture by shading the soil, and creates the living mulch miniclimate under their leaves so essential to balanced, uninterrupted growth. When spacing seeds in flats, place the seeds far enough apart that the seedlings' leaves will barely touch when the seedlings are transplanting size. Try 1-inch to

2-inch spacings depending on the size of the seedling at its transplanting stage (see the Master Charts at the end of this chapter). In general, the plant spacings listed in the Master

Charts for vegetables, flowers, and herbs are equal to the

"within the row" spacings listed on the back of seed packets, or sometimes 3A of this distance. Disregard any "between row"

spacings. You will have to establish spacing for plants grown on hills by experimentation. The Master Charts list our best spacing determinations to date for these plants.

To make the placement of seeds in planting beds or flats easier, use frames with 1-inch or 2-inch mesh chicken wire stretched across them. The mesh is built on a hexagonal pattern, so the seeds can be dropped in the center of a hexagon and be on the proper center. Or, if a center greater than 1 inch is involved and you only have 1-inch mesh, just count past the proper number of hexagons before dropping the next seed.

Plant Spacing Chart
A spacing frame aids in placing seeds in flats. Place one seed in the center of each space.
Seed Spacing Template
Use a spacing stick for placing seeds in beds. 3-inch to 36-inch sizes are used according to the crop planted. Triangulation is the way we plant most seeds and transplant seedlings.
Triangular Plant Bed
Use a triangular spacing template for placing seeds in beds.
Used For Sowing Seeds

When transplanting or planting seeds on spacings of 3 inches or more, try using measuring sticks cut to the required length to determine where each plant should be located. Transplant or sow a seed at each point of the triangulation process. You will eventually be able to transplant with reasonable accuracy without measuring!

Once you get the feel for plant spacing, you may want to practice broadcasting seeds by hand in flats for some crops, such as lettuce and flowers. Broadcasting was the method that Alan Chadwick and his apprentices used with flats. Be sure the seeds end up Vn to V2 inch apart in the first flat so the seeds can take advantage of their complete miniclimate for early growth stimulation and health. This method does, however, require more time to do several prick outs. When these seedlings' leaves are barely touching, prick them out (transplant them) into other flats on 1- to 2-inch centers. One flat of these broadcasted seeds will fill approximately 4 flats after pricking out.

Cover the seeds in their flats with a layer of the flat soil mixture described later in this chapter. When broadcasting seeds onto a growing bed, gently "chop" them in afterward with a bow rake to a depth equal to their diameter (when they are lying flat on a surface). Be sure to chop the rake only up and down; do not pull it toward you. If you pull, seeds, fertilizers, and compost may concentrate irregularly over the bed rather than remain evenly spread. Or you may poke large seeds into the soil to their proper depth with your index finger. Fill the hole by pushing soil into it with your thumb and index finger.

Planting Seeds

Now that you have prepared your grow biointensive bed and have spread the compost, you have a choice as to whether to sow seeds directly into the bed or to use seedlings.

Transplanting seedlings involves more advance planning and more time, but in a small garden, this has several advantages:

  • Transplanted seedlings make better use of bed space. Seeds can take from 5 days to 12 weeks or more to reach transp-planting size. If that growing is done in a flat, something else can be growing in the bed in the meantime.
  • You can be reasonably sure that each transplanted seedling will grow into a healthy mature plant. Not all seeds germinate, so no matter how carefully you sow seeds directly in the bed, you can end up with gaps between plants and, therefore, bare soil that allows evaporation.
  • Plants grow better if they are evenly spaced. Some seeds are sown by broadcasting, scattering them over the soil. Broadcast seeds—no matter how evenly you try to scatter them—will inevitably fall in a random pattern, with some closer and some farther apart than the optimal spacing for best plant growth. Plants that are too close together compete with each other for light, water, and nutrients. when plants are too far apart, the soil around them may become compacted, more water may evaporate, and space is wasted.

The roots of evenly spaced transplanted seedlings can find nutrients and grow more easily, and their leaves will cover and protect the soil, creating a good miniclimate with

Use your digging board as a planting board to minimize compaction. As you move it along the bed, reloosen the soil underneath with a hand fork.

A bottom view of full-sized seedling flat construction. Leave Vs inch between board pieces for drainage.



Seedling flat ends are 1 inch by 3 inches redwood. A 3-inch-deep, full-sized flat with evenly moist flat soil and plants weighs about 45 pounds.

Seedling flat ends are 1 inch by 3 inches redwood. A 3-inch-deep, full-sized flat with evenly moist flat soil and plants weighs about 45 pounds.

Grow Biointensive

better protection for the soil. Carbon dioxide is captured under the leaf canopy of closely spaced plants, where the plants need it for optimal growth.

Transplanting stimulates growth. When you transplant a seedling into a double-dug, composted bed that is fluffy, aerated, and full of nutrients, you give it a second "meal" of nutrients, air, and moisture after its first meal in the flat. If the seeds are sown directly in the bed, the soil will begin to recompact after its initial digging while the seeds are germinating and growing into seedlings. Therefore, the soil will not be as loose for the plants to grow in once the seedling stage is reached.

Seedlings in a flat require much less water (V2 gallon per day) than seedlings in a bed (10 to 20 or more gallons per 100 square feet per day).

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Organic Gardeners Composting

Organic Gardeners Composting

Have you always wanted to grow your own vegetables but didn't know what to do? Here are the best tips on how to become a true and envied organic gardner.

Get My Free Ebook


  • Lisandro
    Which vegetables should be planted as seeds and which should be planted as plants?
    8 years ago
  • eric
    Which way sould a seed be planted?
    7 years ago
  • Valter
    What plants should we grow in flats?
    7 years ago

Post a comment