cucumbers growing on a vine
Updated: February 20, 2023

Vegetable planting basics

  • Check the vegetable crops section to determine whether a particular vegetable is best direct-seeded in the ground or whether its seeds have to be planted indoors and grown to transplant size. You will also learn the best times to plant and how to care for your vegetable crops.
  • Look for cultivars with disease resistance, especially if specific diseases have been a problem. Pay attention to the cultivars that are grown successfully by neighbors and friends. The best source of information on disease-resistant vegetable cultivars is the Cornell University College of Ag. and Life Sciences - Cornell Vegetables.
  • You can buy seeds in local stores or through “mail order” companies with websites.

Transplant or direct seed?

Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cabbages, broccoli, and herbs establish better when they are grown from transplants. You can also grow or buy melon, squash, kale, lettuce, and other vegetable transplants. Transplants fill a garden space quickly, and there is no need to thin out excess seedlings.

  • Using Vegetable Transplants (Starter Plants)Transplants raised inside or in a greenhouse should be exposed gradually to outdoor temperatures and conditions; this is called "hardening off."
  • Transplant on a cloudy windless afternoon if possible, and water well; handle plants carefully and make sure there is adequate room for the roots in the planting hole.
    healthy vegetable seedlings
    When you buy seedlings to transplant make sure that the leaves look
    healthy and are not so large that the roots encircle the roots inside of the container.
    reused plastic market pack will lettuce transplants
    Reuse market packs to plant seeds for transplants. Fertilize after planting. Water daily.

Spacing for vegetable transplants

It is tempting to squeeze more seeds or transplants into a small garden. Deep, fertile soil and attention to watering, weeds, and fertilizing may allow you to tighten up plant spacing a bit. But pushing the envelope too far will cause a decline in yield and plant problems. Follow spacing recommendations in the vegetable profiles section guidelines and on seed packets for best results.

correct spacing when planting onions
Correct spacing for big onions
okra transplants planted too closely in the garden
Okra plants are planted too close together


Still have a question? Contact us at Ask Extension.