Growing plants from seed is not a difficult thing to do. To start seeds indoors all you need are containers of your choice, some seed-starting mix, a light source and water. And, of course, seeds. Many seed packets will tell you when to start your seeds indoors or if your seeds can just be planted directly into the garden.
Here are a few reasons to consider seeds over plants:
You get to choose that great-tasting heirloom tomato over the typical plants you might find in a nursery. Over time, you will probably even choose a favorite to grow every year. When you grow from seed, you get to make the decision of which variety for every vegetable.
Do you really need a 4- or 6-cell pack of zucchini? If you asked my husband, he would tell you 2 zucchini plants are at least 1 too many. The same may be true for other vegetables as well. Instead of 6 butternut squash, we would rather have 3 butternut and 3 spaghetti squash.
3. Pushing the season
If you use season extenders, such as the Wall o’ Water, low tunnels or a greenhouse, you can plant your plants sooner than they may be available at the nursery. The garden system we designed allowed us to put our tomatoes in 4 weeks sooner than normal and we were ready with a few dozen plants we started from seed. In areas where the growing season is short, like here in USDA Zone 5/6, this can make a big difference.
4. Saving money
Seeds can last for years, though over time you lose some viability. Still, one pack of seeds will produce a lot more plants per penny compared to buying them already started. Plus, if you grow heirlooms, you can save the seeds and regrow every year. Even the seeds from some hybrid plants produce wonderfully the following year, and often with no noticeable difference to the parent.
5. Saving bees
Did you know that some companies treat the seedling’s soil with insecticides? I’m not naming names, but when you buy a nice organic seed-starting mix, or even make your own, you know your plants won’t be hurting the environment let alone killing the very bugs they may need to produce food.
The ability to grow your own food gives you the freedom to be less dependent on others for what you need. When you learn to grow from seed, you are taking that to the next level.
Gardening Jones is a master gardener in Pennsylvania. Learn more at her blog.