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seedlings are a great way to start gardening

Seeds or Seedlings?

In the Chicago area (zone 5), some plants that require warm weather, or a long growing season are best to start as seedlings.

Root vegetables do not transplant well, and should be started by direct seeding in the garden.

Below is a list of vegetables, and the best method for growing them in your garden.

Start From Seedling

If you are a first time gardener, starting vegetables from seedlings, is a great way to begin. Seedlings are bigger than the weeds, and it will be easy to tell which plants belong in the garden, and which ones don't.

Also, living in the Chicago area, we have a shorter growing season, so some plants would not have enough time to sprout, grow, and produce fruit, thus, pre-started plants are needed. You can do this yourself, as indoor seed starting is a hobby of all its own. You will need indoor space for trays of starting mix, heat mats, grow lights, time and patience - although, an extremely rewarding hobby, the work involved is not for everyone. Getting pre-started plants from Clover's will help to ensure your success!

  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • cabbages (get them in the ground while it is still cool)
  • cauliflower
  • celery
  • cucumbers
  • eggplant
  • kale
  • kohlrabi
  • leeks
  • lettuces (get them in the ground while it is still cool)
  • okra
  • peppers
  • pumpkins
  • squash
  • strawberries
  • swiss chard (get them in the ground while it is still cool)
  • tomatillos
  • tomatoes
  • watermelon
  • zucchini

Visit Clover's Garden Center for an extensive choice in vegetable plant seedlings, from new hybrids to old-fashioned heirlooms, for your garden. Talk to our knowledgeable staff about what varieties would be best for you.

If you are considering an herb garden, please visit us as well, as we have an extensive selection of culinary herbs, too!

We hope to see you soon, for your cold-tolerant crops, as the sooner you get them in the garden, the sooner you will enjoy fresh vegetables.

Start From Seed

Root vegetables, beans, and leafy lettuces are easy to start from seed, directly in the garden.

The key to successful direct seeding is proper soil preparation. Soil should be turned over to a depth of 8-12 inches, and raked smooth, with all rocks and debris removed. Soil should be damp, but not too wet.

Then, plant seeds to depth listed on seed package, making sure not to plant the seeds too deep - or they may never emerge. An easier way to get seeds started in the garden, is to lay them on the surface of the garden, and then cover them with some potting mix. The potting mix, is lighter, and easier for the sprouts to emerge through.

Once seeds emerge, you will need to thin, them to the proper distance between each seedling based on each plant's growing needs.

Note: Make sure you save the seed packet, so that you can identify the vegetable seedlings from weed seedlings, when weeding the area. Weeds can choke out a seedling before it gets the chance to grow.

  • beans
  • beets
  • carrots
  • collards
  • corn
  • kale
  • leaf lettuce
  • mustard
  • onions
  • potatoes
  • parsnips
  • peas
  • radishes
  • rutabagas
  • soy beans
  • spinach
  • turnips

But there's more...

Some crops are better started by root, like asparagus, or onion sets, potato seedlings, and garlic cloves.

Also, if you want rhubarb, it is best to buy a large plant, as you should not start harvesting from it for at least 2 years after you plant it.

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web page updated: 02.26.14