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Should You Start Your Own Seeds?

March 5th, 2014

It’s Wednesday, that means it’s 5×5 Garden Challenge Day.  As I was starting seeds this past weekend, I thought newbie gardeners might wonder if they should start from seed or buy plants from a local greenhouse instead.
I’d have to say that perhaps the best place to get seeds and plants is from a local gardener.  If you happen to know someone that has a beautiful vegetable garden, chat with them.  I’m always giving away seedlings to local friends for their gardens.  You may end up with a great new friendship and a few lovely plants for your garden.  They will also be a great resource for your new gardening efforts.
Frost Kissed Seed Tin from Peaceful Valley 5
If you don’t have a friendly local gardener to get plants from, I’d recommend direct seeding a few things and buying a few plants as well. Some things, like beans, peas, and zucchini are easy to start from seed, so go ahead and buy seed for those.  They are also direct seeded in the garden, so you won’t have to worry about buying seed starting supplies.  The seedlings are also easy to differentiate from weeds, so you don’t really have to worry about accidentally pulling one of your seedlings while weeding!
Tomatoes are easy to start from seed, buy you might not get the timing quite right.  Plus you might want to try a few different varieties in your garden.  It’s much easier to buy a few plants at the greenhouse and purchase the seed and supplies to start your own. I’d recommend finding a small independent greenhouse nearby to see what kind of selection they have. Most likely you’ll be able to find tomatoes, peppers and herbs there.
Another reason to buy plants is because of the number of seeds in the packet. If you only want two tomato plants, you’ll end up with a bunch of unused seeds. They will remain viable for a while if stored in the right conditions, but you’ll have to find a place to keep them. You might also not end up liking the variety you grew or you might want to try a new variety the next year.
Another reason to buy seeds is because you can get a jump on the growing season. Most often greenhouse will have lettuce seedlings very early in the season. You can buy those, plant them in your garden and have lettuce ready to harvest in a few weeks. After you harvest the lettuce you can go back to the greenhouse and purchase tomato seedlings to plant in their place. Learning how to time starting seeds can be a bit trick for a newbie.
Starting from seed isn’t difficult, but there is a greater risk of failure if you have never done it before.  You also need to purchase a few supplies to do it, soil being the most important.  If you are interested in starting your own download my free Seed Starting 101 e-book (see the link in the sidebar).
seed starting 101 cover image
I don’t want to discourage anyone from starting all their plants from seed the first year if they want to.  Jump right in if you want, you can always find plants easily enough if things don’t go quite as planned, and you may end up with fabulous plants and a great gardening experience!
first raised bed in the garden
My first edible garden consisted of two 4×10 raised beds. All of the plants in them that first year were purchased at a local greenhouse. The following year all my seedlings were grown in my basement. Do what you want to do and what you have time to do.

As a newbie, are you planning on buying plants, starting from seed or both? As an experienced gardener, do you have any advice for newbies when it comes to finding plants for their first garden?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.