When it comes to creating a sense of possibility, there’s not much in the gardening world that can compare to seeds. And, because they’re inexpensive, starting plants from seed is an economical way to experiment with unusual varieties.
Fair warning: The sweat equity of growing plants from seed will be much higher than purchasing plants at the nursery. And, this path should only be considered if you believe the time and effort are worth the reward. It will most likely be a self-guided journey as professional landscapers tend to prefer working with established plants to ensure more immediate impact, a certain level of quality, and lower risk.
Most commercial nurseries will sell plants that are most popular, easiest to grow and require the least maintenance. When this happens, variety dwindles and home gardeners have very few options in Genus (plant type) and even fewer options in species (variation).
From a business perspective, it makes sense. If nurseries decide to grow unusual varieties, they risk not getting a good return on their investment. For a real plant lover, this is an issue. Many may experience a sense of boredom when they visit their local nursery only to find plants they already have in their gardens.
One way to break free of the monotony is planting from seed. The first step is to get your hands on seed catalogs. There are so many companies to choose from, the decision making process can be overwhelming.
Whether you're looking for flowers, veggies, herbs, or specialty plants, here are a few great suppliers.
Planting from seed might save money, but be prepared for additional expenses. Remember to budget for seed trays, grow lights, seed start mix and fertilizer. And, all that equipment will require adequate space. If you don’t have the room, you will be limited in terms of how many seedlings you can grow.
There is a cycle of attrition when planting plants by seed. It’s a natural process of loss that will occur during the growth and development of seedlings. When starting seeds indoors or directly sowing them in the garden, not all seeds will successfully germinate or grow into healthy plants.
Some seeds may be planted too deeply or not receive adequate moisture, light, or nutrients, while others may fall prey to pests or disease. As seedlings continue to grow and mature, some may also struggle to compete with neighboring plants for resources and may ultimately fail to thrive or die off.
This attrition cycle can be challenging for gardeners, but it is a natural part of the growth process. When in doubt, it’s best to plant more than you think you’ll need. Best case scenario? You’ll have plants to give away to friends and family.
The decision to start some seeds indoors and direct sow others outside depends on several factors, including the plant species, the climate, and the desired harvest time. Some plants, such as tomatoes and peppers, require a longer growing season and may not have enough time to mature from seed to harvest if they are directly sown outside.
Starting these plants indoors and transplanting them into the garden once the weather warms up can give them a head start and increase the chances of a successful harvest. On the other hand, some plants, such as beans and zinnias, are hardy and fast-growing and can be directly sown outside without the need for indoor starting. Carrot seeds are typically directly sown outside because they do not transplant well due to their delicate and sensitive root systems.
In addition, some gardeners prefer to direct sow seeds to avoid the time and effort required for indoor starting, while others enjoy the process of starting seeds indoors and watching them grow.
Ultimately, the decision to start seeds indoors or direct sow outside depends on growing conditions and preferences.
A volunteer plant is a plant that grows from a seed that was not intentionally planted but instead grew naturally, often from seeds that have dropped from a plant in a previous growing season.
Volunteer plants are considered "volunteers" because they pop up on their own without any effort from the gardener. While some volunteer plants can be considered weeds, many can be a welcome addition to the garden and provide an opportunity for gardeners to enjoy unexpected and unique plant growth.
Two examples are tomatoes and Verbena Bonariensis. For instance if a tomato falls on the ground and it rots there, those seeds will “hibernate” until it’s a perfect time to germinate. And, soon you will have baby tomato plants. You may have six tomato plants all bunched together and that’s not going to work. So you’ll have to dig them up and spread them out.
Verbena Bonariensis is a beautiful annual with purple flowers that grows up nice and tall. The bees and butterflies absolutely love it and it will re-seed prolifically; you'll never have to buy it again.
Overall, volunteer plants can help you save money on your gardening expenses while providing a bountiful harvest of fruits, vegetables or flowers.
In summary, planting from seed is not for the faint of heart. Think long and hard about whether the pros outweigh the cons. Your decision will be a matter of preference and personal goals. It’s a lot of work, and the last thing you want to do is do it begrudgingly. If you do decide to embark on the seed starting journey, try to keep it light and fun.
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