One common dilemma facing new gardeners is how to decide between growing from seed vs transplant. There are a few factors that contribute to the decision-making process. To help you make the right choice, let’s go through them one by one.
How many plants do you wish to grow?
The number of plants is very important when it comes to deciding between seed vs transplant. If you have the space and the will to care for more than six plants of the same crop, then starting seeds is the best route. It is more cost-effective and worth the effort you put into seedling care. Otherwise, if you only wish to grow a couple of plants of each variety, then getting transplants is the better option.
Do you have the time needed to care for seedlings?
Starting seeds is somewhat a demanding task. After sowing the seeds, checking on them, and monitoring moisture levels will become a daily chore. You will have to have a certain level of dedication to achieve great results. The most labor-intensive task is transplanting the seedlings to a bigger container. From then on, the main objective is to maintain a balanced moisture level, feeding and providing enough sunlight.
In my case, I dedicate one Saturday for sowing seeds, which takes a few hours. I set up the grow light station in a closet nearby my bedroom for easy access. I check on them daily before I go to bed, and in the morning before I start my day. Once the seedlings emerge and grow more than two sets of true leaves, I dedicate another Saturday to transplant them into bigger pots. This task usually takes a full day. At this stage, I move the plants to the living room, where I have a large sunny window.
When the time for hardening comes, I take them out before I head to work at seven A.M. and bring them back in when I come back at six P.M. in the evening.
As you may notice, it is quite a dedication to take care of young seedlings especially when you have a full-time job.
How is your budget?
Most people consider gardening an expensive hobby. That does not have to be the case for everyone. There are smart ways that help you spend less and plant more.
- Choose seeds that have a long shelf life. Some examples are brassicas, tomatoes, beets, and peppers. This way you won’t need to buy new packets every season.
- Make your own seed starting mix.
- Reuse containers or make some out of newspapers.
- Make your own grow light station.
Do you have a unique taste?
Some of the crops I grow do revive some childhood memories. Many of the vegetables my mom cooked for us are either not available in the stores or are expensive. Seeds offer more options when trying to grow unique varieties. Many seed companies offer an array of choices. The only advice I would give is to make sure they are the right varieties for your region. Some scarce vegetables I grow from seeds are broad beans, turnips, and fennel.
Root crops are special
Carrots, turnips, beets, and potatoes, are the most common homegrown root crops. Except for potatoes, which grow from tubers, the rest are grown from seeds. These crops do not like their roots disturbed, so they are sown straight into the ground. This is especially true for potatoes and carrots. Turnips and beets could be started indoors, only to be transplanted carefully outdoors.
A small seed does not mean a small plant
Seed size does not predict the size of the mature plant. Take the example of broccoli and cauliflower. These plants get big and require at least one square foot of growing space. Yet, their seeds are interestingly small. Sprinkling the whole packet in the ground will create a crowded mess. Starting them indoors is the wise thing to do to avoid wasting the seeds and dealing with unnecessary work.
Lettuce seeds are also small, but since lettuce grows well in a high-density setting, spacing is not an issue. Sprinkling the seeds in the soil is a good option, even though starting seeds does not pose a problem either.
Always read the seed packet for better guidance on what to start indoors and what to sow directly.