One of the most satisfying and economical ways to grow plants is to start them from seed. Some are easier to grow than others, however, and of course what is easily cultivated in one area of the country isn’t necessarily good on Cape Cod.
C.L. featured several plants that are easy to grow from seeds in a recent
Here are a few more that do well on Cape Cod, with some tips on how to be successful. Horticultural Happy Hour.
Radishes are not only easy to grow, but fast to mature as well. They are a great plant for kids because of their speed and color. Even children who don’t like to eat radishes enjoy pulling them out of the ground. Put the seeds directly into the soil outdoors and space them about four inches apart. Radishes can be planted in early May on Cape Cod since they don’t mind cold soils and cool night-time temperatures.
If you’re itching to get outside and plant in early May, radishes are one of the seeds that do well. After they are harvested in late June you can plant another crop or sow seeds for fall harvest, such as chard, kale or lettuce.
Lettuce is one of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed. Like radishes, these can be directly sown into the ground in late April or early May. Sprinkle them in a row or patch. As the lettuce grows you can thin the plants by picking them for dinner. On Cape Cod we can sow lettuce every two months over the summer for ongoing crops.
The shorter growing varieties of marigolds are plentiful in six-packs from mid-May until mid-June, but the taller varieties are best grown from seed. These tall marigolds are good to plant among earlier flowering perennials for mid-summer into fall color. They are also great in a cutting garden. Start marigold seeds indoors in early April.
Sugar snap peas can be put into vegetable gardens in April on Cape Cod. Ignore the old “plant seeds on St. Patrick’s Day” advice…our soils are far too cold in March and your seeds will rot. Here’s a space-saving tip: Grow peas up a support, planting them early. In late May or early June plant cucumbers or winter squash next to the pea vines. The peas will be finished by early July and their vines can be removed, but the winter squash or cucumbers can then grow up the support for late-summer harvest.
And speaking of winter squash, here’s a variety that is good to grow in smaller gardens or up smaller supports. Honeynut makes smaller butternut type squash, which are perfect for one meal for a family of four. They are sweet and flavorful.
Although this variety of Rudbeckia is often listed as a perennial, it is short-lived and best grown as an annual on Cape Cod. It often self-seeds, however, so in the right location (no mulch) you should see new plants growing every year.
Two different Rudbeckia hirta appear in C.L.’s cutting garden every summer. One is all yellow, and another is brown and yellow. Part of the fun with self-seeding flowers is the variety that often appears.
Cucumbers are easy to grow, and this variety is fun for adults and kids. The fruits are about the size of a large grapes! Sometimes called cucamelons, since they look like small watermelons, this type comes from Mexico, which tells you that it wants heat to grow. Plant these seeds in mid-June, when our soils are warmer. Put all cucumber seeds directly in the ground – no need to start them inside.
C.L. grows the Mexican sour cucamelons on the same fencing that supported her sugar snap peas earlier in the season.
Calendulas are lovely annuals that can be grown in containers, among vegetables, or in the cutting garden. Plant the seeds in mid to late May, either inside or directly in the ground. Many find that their Calendulas self-seed, so pay attention to what the emerging seedlings look like so you’ll be able to recognize them as they come up in the future. The petals are edible, and look beautiful sprinkled on salads.
Since Calendulas don’t grow too wide, they can be tucked in and among vegetables or perennials.
When you’re shopping for seeds, don’t forget your feline friends! A container or “cat grass” can be grown indoors in the winter or spring so that Tabby or Tigger can nibble on it inside. Catnip often self-seeds once you have grown it outside, so you should have plenty to entertain your cat or to dry and fill some homemade cat toys.