I have a seed habit. Reading through a seed catalog in the middle of a snow storm in January is magical. There are so many varieties to choose from. Things you never see in the grocery store. Purple carrots and cauliflower, chocolate colored bell peppers, more hot peppers than you can shake a stick at. There are beets that when sliced look like a candy cane and tomatoes in a rainbow of colors. The descriptions and pictures make me long for the summer and the wonderful new flavors. While variety is a huge reason that I grow from seed, there are many others.
I’m also quite frugal by nature. Seeds certainly fill that bill. Even with multiple varieties in my seed collection, I still have very little invested in them. A packet of seeds averages $1-3. There are lots of seeds in each packet and depending on the size of you garden, can last for multiple years. Consider a packet of cucumber seeds. Each packet will contain about 30 seeds. That is 30 cucumber plants for around $2. Now imagine how many cucumbers you will get from that same $2. Most seeds will still be good for several years, so don’t worry about using them all the first year. I like to split packets with friends and family members to save us all money and give us more variety.
Seeds are easier than transplants. Now, I know that many of you think that’s crazy. How could starting from seed be easier than just going and buying already started plants? There are so many things that can go wrong with a purchased plant. If it wasn’t grown well, it won’t produce well. Many times the plants you get are root bound (the plant is too big for the pot) and they end up with stunted growth. There are also several varieties of veggies that just don’t like to be transplanted. Most squash varieties are not happy to be disturbed. Once growing, they will sulk if transplanted and many will die or do poorly.
Generally, you can start seeds in the ground earlier than you can put plants in. Since they will take a few days to germinate, you get a few days to not worry about frost. They will largely be protected by the soil around them as well. The plants started in your garden will be hardier than those you plant from elsewhere. They already have a symbiosis with the garden from the start. No need to get them used to your climate, they were born there.
With the exception of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatillos and herbs, most veggies do better when direct seeded into the garden. Our growing season is plenty long enough to start the rest into the garden. Many can be started now. Peas can be in the ground now. Spinach hates heat and will do better if started in the next 2 weeks. They both can take the cold.
The final reason I’ll talk about is integrity. I can pick the company that I want to support. There are a lot of politics surrounding food and the growing of food. I want to give my money to the producers and seed houses that are doing things the way I like. If you want to avoid all contact with GMOs and the companies that benefit from them, you can. If you want organic seed, you can find it. Seeds help me to customize my garden and my food supply more than any other method.
If this is overwhelming and you’ve always bought plants, do just one thing this year. Buy a packet of bean seeds, or some squash seeds. Plant them as an experiment and see what you think. No need to get catalogs, you can find seeds everywhere. My grocery store even has them. Just try it, you might get hooked too.
Submitted by Heather Smith