Although we are experiencing bone chilling temperatures and wind, the soul of the gardener is stirring and thoughts of the coming season slip into our dreams. A useful publication of interest is The Home Garden Seed Association. The Association is but ten years old and promotes the advantages of growing from seed.
Cornell’s Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners, a citizen science program, describes 562 pepper varieties, 365 lettuces, and an astonishing 853 types of tomatoes. Only a fraction of these can be bought as seedlings. You will find it difficult to find 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 all of which are available as seeds.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 will know that they have been well cared for until the time is right for planting, and that they have been grown without unwanted chemicals. Seedlings started indoors will thrive when provided with sunshine through a window and enough moisture to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Give them half strength fertilize when two sets of leaves appear… full strength is too strong for them as they are still babies.
It is a gardening 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. Warm weather 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 from seed.
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 is the fact you may be able to sow succession plantings of greens, beans, and other crops for a second harvest. They may be planted two to three weeks apart for continued harvests.
*Think seeds! The catalogues have begun arriving so order some to stave of the winter blues… the run to the mail box is much more exciting whilst you wait for an order.
All the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today.
~ Ancient proverb
~ Ancient proverb