How to Sow Small Seeds in the Garden

In the spring, there are some vegetable seeds you can sow right into the garden soil without having to start them indoors or buy the plants already growing in the nursery. Some seeds are big and are easy to plant because you can plant each seed at the required spacing. Other vegetable seeds such as carrots, kohlrabi, and radishes are tiny. Sowing these small seeds can be a pain because they can land in puddles, or have wide spaces between the plants. This article will help you to avoid any problems with sowing small seeds.

Pick out the variety of vegetables you want to try. Because more seeds are tainted with GMO, I tend to stick with the heirloom ones.

Not all vegetable seeds are planted at the same time. It is important to check the label for the best time to sow the seeds in your area.

Pick out the garden spot to plant your seeds. You’ll want an area that receives at least 6 hours of direct sun, well-drained soil, level ground and away from trees if possible. If you plant the seeds where trees and shrubs are growing, you will have to water more often. The roots of those plants will take the moisture and nutrients away from the soil that your vegetables need to grow. Also, when looking for the perfect garden spot, try to have your water supply close, so you don’t have to haul your watering cans or hose a long distance.

Prepare the Soil

Dig or til the soil.Amend the soil with 2 to 4 inches of organic compost. This improves the drainage and provides nutrients in the soil that the vegetable plants need to grow healthy.

Level the soil with your rake by pulling the tines through the ground to further break up dirt clods. Remove any sticks, rocks, or clumps of dirt that your rake brings to the surface. It is best if you allow the soil to settle for several days or a week. This prevents the small seeds from going too deep in the soil where they will not germinate.

Mark the Rows

Mark the rows by inserting a stick at the end of each row. Tie a piece of twine or string to each stick, and use this as a visual guide to keep your rows straight. I often eyeball my rows, but my mother always made sure her rows were straight. I do put a stick into the ground at each end, so I know where I’ve planted.

Lay a board across the soil in your row. Walk over the board to compact the soil. This prevents the seeds from falling too deep into the soil. Mark the row by inserting a stick at each end of your row. Tie a piece of twine or string to each stick, and use this as a visual guide to keep your rows straight. Consult your seed packets to determine how far apart to space each row.

Remove the board when you are ready to plant.

Sowing the Seeds

Pour 2 to 4 cups of sand into a bucket or pail. Add the seeds that you want to plant and mix. When I’m sowing the small seeds, this is the way I like to sow mine. The sand gives me a good visual on the areas that I’ve covered with seed and it prevents the chances of the seeds clumping in one pile. That means less thinning the plants and more produce to harvest. The sand also acts as a covering for the seeds.

If you don’t have sand or you are just want a few plants to grow, you can do it this way. Open the seed packet and sprinkle the seeds thinly over the soil. Another way is to pour the seeds into the palm of your hand. Grab some of the seeds between your thumb and forefinger, and then thinly sprinkle the seed over the soil in your rows.

If you didn’t use sand, cover the seed with a thin layer of soil. Because the seeds are so small, they need just a fine, light covering. They should only be 1/8 to 1/4 inch below the soil’s surface. Firm the soil over the seeds with your hands so the seed coat is in contact with the soil.


Gently water your seeded rows with the misting nozzle connected to your hose, or a sprinkle head watering can. No matter which you use, just make sure the pressure isn’t hard or it will wash the seeds too deep into the soil. If that happens, the seeds will not germinate.

Keep the soil evenly moist until the seeds germinate, but refrain from watering so much that the soil stays soggy. Depending how hot it is, you may have to water your vegetable seeds several times a day.

After the seeds germinate, continue to keep the soil evenly moist.


When the seedlings have grown for two to three weeks, it is time to thin them. The package will tell you how far apart the plants need to be in order for them to grow properly. Remove any week looking plants and keep the strong healthy ones. After the plants grow bigger, place a 2 to 4-inch layer of organic mulch over the ground to help hold in moisture, and prevent weeds from growing.

Theresa Lien
Theresa Lien
A professional writer who has specialized in houseplants and indoor gardening. She's had experience with outdoor landscaping too, having written about plants that grow well on balconies and patios as one of her previous articles for Wohomen.


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