12 types of vegetable seeds you should NEVER start indoors
As early as January or February, the garden community starts to buzz as people begin to start their seeds indoors so they can have an abundant spring and summer garden.
It’s smart to start some plants (like tomatoes and peppers) indoors because it allows them a longer season to grow large and healthy (especially in gardening zones with shorter summer seasons), and produce tons of amazing fruit.
But there are other veggies that you should never start indoors because they won’t survive being transplanted later on.
That also means that these are the veggies that you always want to start from seed, rather than buying a seedling plant from your local nursery or farmers market.
Most root vegetables
Root vegetables don’t transplant well, so it’s best to start them in their final resting place. Luckily, they are frost tolerant and many of them are quick to grow, so you can plant them as soon as the soil thaws, but before the last frost date. Onions and leeks are the exceptions here, and they do well when they are started indoors and transplanted in the spring.
Beets are a great option to plant in your early spring garden. They do their best down directly into the ground but can survive in 5-gallon gardening bags as well as long as they are in deep, rich soil.
Radishes are one of the most fun root vegetables to plant early on in the season. They grow like weeds, so they might be your first crop ready to eat!
Turnips are a great option to grow in colder climates and should be sown directly. They are commonly roasted, mashed, and used in soups, so they are the perfect versatile veggie to grow in spring or fall.
Carrots are another easy crop to directly sow before the last frost or late in summer. They actually become sweeter and more delicious when they experience temperatures below freezing.
Dill is in the Apiaceae, which is closely related to carrots. While you typically eat the frilly fronds that grow out of the earth, dill has a long taproot that does not transplant well. However, unlike carrots, dill should only be planted after the last frost date.
Corn is another plant that does not transplant well, so it should be planted wherever you plant it to grow it to maturity. It can be planted inside in large pots as long as you don’t plan on transplanting it later on.
Across the board, squash does not tend to transplant well. Attempting to transplant usually does not end well, with the plant dying or growing at a much slower rate.
Some people do start summer squashes like zucchini or pattypan indoors to get an earlier harvest, but your plants will grow biggest and produce the most fruit if they are planted directly into the earth. If you really want fruit earlier in the summer, you may try both starting it indoors, as well as directly sowing some seeds after your last frost date.
Winter squash includes things like pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut, and spaghetti squash. These should always be planted outdoors directly in the earth, well after the last frost date.
Cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew melon also thrive best when they are sown directly. Don’t try to get an early start on these by planting them indoors, because they rarely survive the shock of transplant. If by some miracle a melon plant does survive being transplanted, it still is unlikely to grow to maturity and produce fruit.
There is no need to start peas indoors, and they do not do well being transplanted. Peas are frost-tolerant so you can plant them outside early in the year, and they grow incredibly fast under the right conditions so they will likely be one of your first edible crops anyway.
Similar to peas, beans should not be started indoors. But beans should be planted a little later in the season, after the last frost date and once the soil has warmed. Planting beans too early can result in poor germination and seed rot, so plan on planting them a couple of weeks after your frost date and enjoying them in mid to late summer.
Lettuce and lettuce-y plants
Lettuce, arugula, spinach, and similar plants can be planted indoors and transplanted, but they thrive best when they are planted in their final growing spot. There are plenty of varieties of lettuce that are cold-tolerant, so they are often a successful first crop of the year early in spring.
Plants that should be started from seed indoors
We’ve covered types of plants that should always be planted directly in their final resting place, so what can you get a jump on by planting indoors?
Here is a non-exhaustive list of a few of my favorite plants to start from seed inside:
Broccoli, kale, chard, cabbage, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, basil, celery, onions, leeks, artichoke, bok choi, brussels sprouts.