Starting your own plants from seed is easy. If you've tried in the past without success, give these 17 seeds a try this year. Growing your own garden from seed can be less expensive than buying seedlings from the garden center, and cheaper than buying produce from the supermarket.
Chard come in a rainbow of colors, but we typically eat the leaf. (Photo: Tristan Ferne/flickr)
8 easy edibles to start from seed
Beans: Pole beans or bush beans? It doesn’t really matter because beans are possibly the easiest seeds to start in your garden.
Chard: A nutritious leafy green that every first-time gardener should grow. Chard stalks come in a rainbow of colors, but the part we generally eat is the leaf (at right).
Cucumbers: Easy to start outdoors directly in the soil when the soil temperature warms up.
Radishes: A great crop to plant early in the spring when temperatures can be too cold for anything else.
Carrots: Another easy-to-grow root crop for the beginner gardener. Try some of the colorful heirloom varieties for picky eaters, and shorter varieties like "Round Romeo" to replace packaged baby carrots from the supermarket.
Lettuce: Head lettuces are easy to grow, but growing lettuces you can harvest for salads at the leaf stage is easiest for beginner gardeners.
Squash: Like cucumbers, squash seeds are easy to sow directly into the soil.
Basil: Possibly the easiest herb to start in your garden. There's a wide selection of cultivars with interesting scents if growing basil for pesto doesn't interest you.
Growing just a few of these seeds will increase your confidence in your ability to nurture and grow your own food. When you start your own plants from seeds, you know exactly what went into making your food and you can be sure that no harmful chemicals were used to grow what you put on your plate.
Sunflowers are maybe the easiest annual to start in your garden. (Photo: liz west/flickr)
9 easy annuals to start from seed
Flowers don't just beautify your neighborhood and home. A successful garden needs pollinators, and the flowers you plant in your garden should be thought of as the welcome mat of your garden. Entice the pollinators your vegetables and herbs rely on for pollination by planting these easy-to-grow flower seeds.
Cosmos: Airy foliage with daisy-like flowers in shades of white, orange, pink, magenta and yellow. A great annual for gardens with poor soil and for those who want a low-maintenance plant.
Sunflowers: Possibly the easiest annual to start in your garden. Sunflowers don't like transplanting, so plant the seed directly into the soil where you want them to grow.
Poppies: Annual poppies are easy to start from seed. Sow them directly into a garden bed with poor soil during cool, rainy weather to germinate the seeds.
Zinnias: This tough annual comes in a variety of colors and heights. They can tolerate dry and hot conditions. Pinch the buds back to create bushier plants.
Bachelor Buttons: Charming white, pink, blue and lavender blooms that do well in poor soil and dry gardens.
Marigolds: A classic, easy-to-grow plant that no garden should be without. They're available in colors and heights beyond the yellow blooms your grandmother grew.
Cleome: A great cottage garden plant with an interesting flower form that resembles spiders to some (at right).
Runner beans: Attractive blooms on fast-growing vines that create privacy and shade. Interesting seed pods at the end of the season that are easy to collect.
Nasturtiums: Blooms come in a variety of colors. Foliage can be green to blue and variegated. The plant's leafs, blooms and seeds are all edible.
Aside from attracting pollinators, the biggest benefit of growing your own blooms is that you have living floral shop just outside your door. Cut your own bouquets throughout the season and give some to friends and family instead of buying costly flowers that have been grown in other countries and shipped around the world.
Ramon is the original urban garden blogging male espousing a DIY philosophy to gardening and garden projects. Better known online as MrBrownThumb, he’s been demystifying gardening secrets for average gardeners online since 2005. Besides writing the popular MrBrownThumb garden blog he’s co-founder of @SeedChat on Twitter, the creative director of One Seed Chicago, and founder of the Chicago Seed Library.