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Start Your Vegetable Seeds Indoors or Buy Your Transplants?

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    It’s decision time; town meeting has past and most serious gardeners use that day as a cue to begin seed starting. Others wonder if it would be easier to buy transplants. Here’s my spin on it. Steve Covey, highly acclaimed author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, would tell us to begin with the end in mind. I rarely make an important decision without taking his good advice under consideration. Deciding whether to buy my transplants or start them from seed is one such important decision. My “end in mind”, as I relate it to seed starting, has four goals:

    • I want to have healthy sturdy transplants available to move outside after the generally accepted date of the last frost.
    • I want to have my favorite named varieties of vegetables.
    • I want to spend as little $$ as possible.
    • I want to experience the enjoyment of seeing my seeds germinate and have the confidence in knowing my plants have an organic origin.

    The alternative to seed starting is to purchase transplants from a local garden center or home center. Let’s consider the alternative in the context of the goals I’ve listed above.

    • I’ve had enough bad experiences in the garden departments of home centers to discourage me from sourcing there. I too often find transplants at garden centers and home centers to be leggy and poorly maintained. At the peak of planting season even at garden centers, I’ve sometimes found the opposite to be true. Benches are full of small transplants that are weeks behind schedule.
    • Some of my favorite varieties of vegetables are rarely available as finished transplants when I want them. The “Tiny Tim” tomato is a good example. I germinate them because the seeds are readily available on line and few vegetables are easier to propagate than tomatoes. When I’m shopping for transplants, the compact varieties best suited for My Garden Post are most often difficult to find.
    • After the one-time investment for grow lights, heat mats, flats and trays is paid for, it costs you far less to grow your own than to buy transplants off the bench. This is to say, a 4” tomato will cost $5+- most everywhere you shop. You can buy a pack of seed with a 25 count and pay less than $3. You do the math; it’s a tremendous savings to start your own seeds.
    • I often write of the seemingly magical experience of seeding a flat and watching intently for the first sprouts to appear. That childlike enjoyment can only be experienced when you start your own. I also have the peace of mind that I haven’t introduced some out of state virus to my garden. We’ve all heard those stories.

    Let’s assume I’ve convinced you to start your own. Time and space in today’s post doesn’t allow me to go into every detail of seed starting. I’ll give you a few suggestions today and continue with specifics in the next couple weeks.

    • The first goal is to make sure the transplants are ready on time. To achieve this, you have to start your seeds at a time that allows them to be well-rooted, sturdy and healthy when they go outside. A seed starting calendar will give you the start dates. You’ll easily find on online and I have a sample for you here.
    •  Note the 3rd column is suggesting that you seed these crops directly into the My Garden Post planters. For best germination, set the planters on heat mats as you would the germinating trays. When the day arrives to set the plants outside, it will be one easy step to hang the planters on your My Garden Post. There’s no transplanting or mess.

This lettuce planting was germinated in the MGP planters last spring, early in April. I moved them out to the deck the first week in May and harvested fresh greens two weeks later.

Follow me next week for advice on soil temperatures for fast germination, choosing the best germinating mix and a few more practical reasons why growing on a My Garden Post is easier and more productive.

Thanks for following,

Oliver

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