Heirloom flowers such as sweet William (above: Dianthus ‘Jolt’ visited by silver spotted skipper), love-in-a-mist and love-lies-bleeding offer romance, drama, and fragrance to the garden, and they draw pollinators!
1. You’ll Have Many More Choices
Cornell’s Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners, a citizen science program, describes 574 pepper varieties, 370 lettuces and an astonishing 910 types of tomatoes. Only a fraction of these can be bought as seedlings. You’ll have a hard time finding the delicious and highly rated ‘Carmello’ tomato in a pot, or one of the great tasting new container tomatoes, or ‘Topepo,’ a sweet Italian heirloom.
The same with flowers. Your local nursery rarely offers interesting and unusual plants such as bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis), or delicate love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena), or even easy-to-grow, evening scented four o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa).
2. You Can Control Quality
Even if you are lucky enough to find your desired tomato, pepper, and flower varieties as plants, should you buy them? The answer depends on how well you know the grower. Seedlings that have dried out at some point in their lives or become root bound will not perform well in the garden. When you grow your own you’ll know that they’re being well cared for until the time is right for planting, and that they’ve been grown without unwanted chemicals.
Plants grown under poor conditions will not produce adequate foliage or yields.
– UMD College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
3. Growing From Seed Is Easier
It’s a fact: many plant varieties are more successful when grown from seed sown directly in the garden. These include root vegetables, herbs in the carrot family such as cilantro and dill, baby salad greens of any kind and flowers that are best sown very early in the season, such as larkspur, bells of Ireland, and love-in-a-mist.
Other vegetables and flowers are so easy to grow from seed that buying seedlings makes little sense. Squash, melons, beans, peas, sunflowers, zinnias, nasturtiums and cosmos are a few.
Garden centers routinely sell small blooming transplants. Flowers such as zinnias, marigolds, and celosias will do better in the long run if planted before they bloom—yet another reason to buy and grow seed!
Plants Best Sown Directly In Garden Soil
- Baby greens: lettuce, arugula, spinach and others
- Beans and peas
- Roots: beets, carrots, radishes, turnips and others
- Squash, melons and cucumbers
- Swiss chard
- Annual herbs: basil, cilantro, dill
- Many annual flowers: cosmos, nasturtiums, sunflowers, zinnias, cleome, amaranth, celosia and others
- Flowering vines: morning glories, scarlet runner Bean, hyacinth bean and others
- Flowers sown in fall or early spring, such as larkspur, bells of Ireland, bachelor buttons and love-in-a-mist
4. You’ll Save Money
Lush, extravagant swaths of color are within your budget. A whole packet of zinnia, sunflower, or marigold seeds can be purchased for about the same cost as a six-pack of seedlings, or even a single seedling in some markets.
A productive vegetable garden can feed your family all year for a fraction of what you would pay for equivalent produce at your local grocer or farmers’ market. An added advantage of buying seeds rather than plants: you’ll be able to sow succession plantings of greens, beans, and other crops for a second harvest!
All the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today.
~ Ancient proverb
5. It’s Fun to Do!
It’s also magical, and gives you a feeling on independence and, yes, power, to watch a seed germinate and grow into a healthy seedling, connecting you to nature even as frigid weather may be confining you to the indoors.
The real question is …
Why not grow your garden from seed?
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Article and photos offered by the homegardenseedassociation.com.