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Seed Is King: Why Buying Plant Starts Might Not Be For You

Many gardeners will forgo starting from seed and buy all their plants as starts. Here are a few reasons why we invest the time, energy, and money towards starting from seed.

Get What You Need

There are literally hundreds of different varieties of vegetables to choose from and not all of them are going to be right for you and your garden. Seed catalogs speak to frost tolerance, growing conditions, and maturation times that allow you to select the vegetables that meet your needs. Canning tomatoes versus cherry tomatoes, shelling peas versus sugar snap peas–the choice is in your hands. Depending on what you like to eat and when you want to be eating it, a lot of your bounty can be enjoyed throughout the winter when you plant the right varieties. When you grow your own seeds, you can be sure that your garden is efficiently planted with the tastiest and most useful plants picked out especially for you.

Plant What Grows

If you are shopping at a local nursery or buying from a farmer, your choices are limited but at least the varieties they sell are more likely to be right for your climate.  If you are getting your plants from larger stores that aren’t locally owned, you can bet that those plants have nothing to do with where you live. The peppers of Arizona’s desert aren’t going to thrive in the hills of Maine, and the cabbages of Alaska’s tundra won’t enjoy Louisiana’s humid air. If you buy plant starts from someone who doesn’t understand your micro-climate, there is a very good chance that those plants won’t reach maturity. With the rise of small scale regional vegetable seed companies, you can find the plant varieties that are not only right for your area but are from seeds that are already bioregionally adapted. Talk about a match made in heaven!

Don’t Be Duped

There are many plants that prefer not to be transplanted such as peas, squash, and root crops. Newer gardeners will often purchase these plants without knowing that they are actually delaying their garden by several weeks with unnecessary transplanting. Plants need to reacclimate themselves every time their root systems are disturbed. They really don’t like be handled and moved over and over again. Growing from seed ensure that the right plants will be started indoors and you won’t waste money on those that should be directly sown in your garden. Growing everything from seed will give you the tools to start your season off on the right foot.

Start With SuccessTomato Sprout

When you buy plant starts, you often times have no idea what you’re getting. Seeds are only as strong as the conditions they were grown in and you may be starting your season with an inherent handicap. Bad seed, dead soil, chemical fertilizers, and improper growing conditions can make your plant susceptible to pests and disease. Weak plants will be the first ones to get attacked by pests, that is, if they didn’t bring them home with them already. If you start your plants from seed, you can mimic similar conditions in which they will experience outside and slowly harden them off. The point of starting plants ahead of time is to give them a head start, not hold them back. Start your season with success, not someone else’s failure.

Save Money

Our most expensive seeds at Foundroot are $3.00 for 30 seeds = $0.10/seed. Add in some potting soil, a pot, and electricity costs, you’d still be hard pressed for that tomato plant to cost more than $2.00. Depending on where you live, that same plant will run you $5-$20 and of course, those organic heirloom tomatoes are upwards of $5/pound at market. After you make a one-time investment in your germination set-up, you veggies will be one of the cheapest parts of gardening. Seeds can be purchased in larger quantities and if stored properly, we be able to be used for several years. Of course if you start your own compost, reuse your pots, and begin saving your own seed, well, that’s a lot of straw spun into gold.

 

Starting from seed can be a lot of work at first but with a great germination set-up, good record keeping, and by following some basic guidelines, even a total beginner can have a thriving garden at a fraction of the cost of buying plant starts. Sustainable gardens should decrease inputs over time which includes labor and monetary investment. In short: if you play your cards right, it should get cheaper and easier to produce an increasing bounty of food every year to feed you year-round. Sound too good to be true? Well, there’s only one way to find out.

 

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