Broadcast: September 16, 2003
This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
Last week, we told how to choose a place for a home garden and how to prepare the soil. Now we discuss planting the seeds.
Planting seeds directly into the ground can save time and effort over starting them in containers. First, though, you must till the garden. Digging and turning over the ground loosens the soil. Remove rocks or anything else that will block young plants or roots.
Make sure the soil contains some water, but not too much. Seeds should be planted to a depth of about three to four times their length. If they are planted too deeply, they will not grow.
Some vegetables, like carrots and lettuce, have very small seeds. This makes it difficult to space them evenly in a line. Combine small seeds with a little soil to make a mixture that is easy to spread.
Use a tool to dig a straight row in the soil. Plant small seeds by pouring the mixture along the row. Then cover the seeds with enough soil to protect them from strong sun and to keep them cool and wet, but not too wet.
When young seedlings come up, make sure they are spaced as directed by the seed manufacturer or an expert. Remove plants that are too close together. This process is called thinning. Remove extra plants when they have grown two sets of leaves. This may seem like a waste. But removing extra plants permits the rest to produce a bigger, healthier crop.
You can plant larger seeds in groups of about five. By planting several seeds together, you can choose the best seedling and remove the others. This method is especially important if you are planting older seeds. The older the seeds, the more you must plant. Corn, eggplant, melons, squash and tomato seeds do best when planted in groups this way.
Some plants do best when they are planted in wide rows. These rows can be from twenty-five to seventy-five centimeters wide. Spread the seeds around the wide row. Cover them lightly with soil. Onions, radishes, carrots, beets, lettuce, peas and beans grow best with this method.
With some plants, wide rows can produce a larger crops and require less work. The closer grouping limits the space for weeds, or unwanted plants, to grow.
Next week, we discuss how to care for and harvest crops.
This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Mario Ritter. Our thanks to Larry Bass from the North Carolina State University Extension Service for his expert advice.