Its taken me a little while to learn this, but I think I've now figured out which veges to sow directly in the soil as seeds and which to raise as seedlings and then plant in my garden, so I thought I'd share with you what has worked for me so far.
radish seedlings peeping through the mulch
At first I tried to plant everything as seeds directly in the garden, but I wasn’t happy with the results, too much work to thin the seedlings and some didn’t sprout at all. So then I tried raising seedlings, it took me a while to realise that I needed to use a good seed-raising mix, and I prefer to use toilet rolls than the seedling trays that bought seedlings come in. I wrote more about raising seedlings here.
starting veges in pots and toilet rolls (photo from last spring)
Then I decided that I wanted to grow root crops, and they don’t transplant well, so I had to think about how to do this. I observed that tiny brassicas were popping up through the mulch, and they must have come from the ones that I’d left to go to seed. Previously I had thought that seeds couldn't sprout through the mulch, but I was wrong. This is the method that I use to plant carrots, swedes, turnips and radishes:
Push mulch aside and dig a shallow trench
Fill trench with seed-raising mix
Sprinkle seed thinly as humanly possible so you don’t have too much thinning to do later
Pat the seeds in the seed-raising mix and lightly cover with a little mulch
The seeds will sprout through the mulch and then you just need to thin them a little
I try to write down what I’ve planted where so I know which seeds didn’t sprout (and should be thrown out), and which were good.
For more about growing and using root vegetables, see my post here.
For brassicas, I throw a few seeds around the brassica area of the garden. If I have new seeds that I want to try, I’ll plant them in a shallow tray of seed-raising mix first, to see how they sprout and then transplant them later. If we are having a bad year for slugs, I start the brassicas outside the garden to give them a chance to get bigger.
The entire bed, planted with carrots, radishes, onions, turnip and swede
Plants like tomatoes, capsicum, beans, peas, basil and other herbs, I plant in the toilet rolls, and if there’s no room in the garden yet, or the weather isn’t quite right, I keep potting them into larger pots until I’m ready to plant them in the garden.