From the Desk of Ed Hume: Sowing Seeds of Warm Weather Vegetables

May 14, 2012 at 9:18 AM Leave a comment

Weather permitting, it’s time to sow the seeds of cucumbers, squash, cantaloupe, corn and most of the other warm weather vegetables and herbs.  Once the temperatures average about 50 degrees or better it’s time to set out tomatoes and pepper plants too!

Mid-to-late spring is generally the time to get the main vegetable garden underway (planted) by directly sowing the seeds of those vegetables that need the warmer weather.  This group includes the vining crops like pumpkins, squash, and cucumbers.  Plus, corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, beans, peppers, and tomatoes.

If you haven’t seeded your lettuce, spinach, and other leaf crops there is still time to get them started.  Root crops like carrots, beets, radishes, etc. can still be seeded too.  In fact, you may want to make two or three plantings of all of these for spring, fall, and winter harvests.

Annual herbs like basil and cilantro can also be seeded directly into the garden at this time.  In addition, the perennial herbs like chives, parsley, mints, thyme etc. can also be seeded outdoors now.

Take time to select varieties that will grow and mature in your area.  This is especially true of watermelon, cantaloupe, tomato, and pepper varieties.  There is nothing more frustrating then to spend your time and money growing a crop only to have it never reach maturity.

The tall growing crops like corn and pole beans are planted on the northside of the garden so they don’t shade the other crops.  Medium growing crops like tomatoes, celery, chard, and peppers are planted in the center of the garden and the lower growing vegetables are grown on the south side of the garden.  As I have mentioned on several occasions, I like to plant the rows in a north/south direction for best sunlight exposure and good air circulation.

Plant perennial vegetables like asparagus, rhubarb, artichokes, and perennial herbs on the outside edge of the vegetable garden so they are not in the way when you till or cultivate the garden in the off-season.  Likewise we plant all of our vining crops along the westside of the garden then train the vines outward so they don’t become entangled with the other vegetables.

Since planting depth, spacing, and thinning vary so much between the various types of vegetable, it is important that one read the backside of the seed packet and follow the directions to the letter.  If seeds are sown too deep, they will not germinate.  Likewise, if they are seeded too shallow and not watered properly, there is a good chance the seed will dry out and not germinate.

Please visit for more information on growing vegetables year-round.  My latest book Gardening with Ed Hume, Northwest Gardening Made Easy ($19.95 web price) also has lots of information on vegetable gardening and a wide range of other gardening topics.


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