Gardening Tips

Transplants vs. Starting Seeds: The Great Garden Debacle

Posted by Best Gardening Team on 5/1/2018
Transplants vs. Starting Seeds: The Great Garden Debacle
One of the biggest decisions you will make when planning your garden is whether to start your garden from seed or from plants bought at the nursery. There is much debate in the gardening community on which way is the right way. With both options you will find pros and cons, so to assist you in making your decision we have assemble this easy guide.

Let’s start with purchasing plants from a local nursery. This is a very quick and easy option for getting your garden up and running. This option is ideal for busy gardeners who simply don’t want to invest a lot of effort in starting seeds. This is also wonderful for individuals who got a late start or had seedlings that just didn’t take.

Pros for Planting Nursery Transplants:

You Get the Pick of the Pack

One of the best things about this method is when you purchase plants that are already started, you can be certain they have a well-developed root system and you get to evaluate the health and hardiness of the plant. It’s always good to be picky when you’re selecting your seedlings; look for a stocky stem, rich green leaves, and no signs of disease.

You Can Plant It Right Where You Want It

When you purchase transplants, they are ready to go in there permanent plot. This means you have a very good idea while you are planting where each patch of plants should go. For some individual gardeners this make mapping there gardens much easier.

Your Wait for Harvest Is Usually Shorter

In many cases, transplants are the best choice for gardeners who want almost instant gratification for their efforts. What some would say is the most enticing thing about this method is your plant to harvest time is much shorter. Obviously, individual results will vary depending on the plant, but as a whole the growth process will be much quicker.

Cons for Planting Nursery Transplants:

You Get Fewer Options

In the best of nurseries you will be lucky to find more than three varieties of any fruit or vegetable transplants (our local nursery only carries two.) This means you will just have to settle for what is there on the flat. For some this will be disappointing, especially if your favorite variety is not available. The best way to combat this is to shop around, and if you see something you like, be sure to snag it while they have them in stock.

Little to No Heirloom Options

Part of the bonus of growing your own garden is the fact you get access to things usually not available in the grocery store. While crossbreeds are hardy and pretty to look at, they simply don’t taste as good as heirloom crops. Another factor to consider is that no matter how good the crossbreeds are, you can’t save the seeds to replant the following year because the seeds of a crossbreed do not carry the genetic information to reproduce. For individuals seeking heirloom transplant options, try your local farmers market. Quantities will be limited so go early in the season.

Up Front Cost

The average package of seeds cost somewhere around $1.50-$2.00, and the average transplant costs $4.99-$7.99 per plant. The immediate gratification definitely comes with a price tag. Individuals who plant transplants can expect to spend around $100 more each year in startup cost. This definitely is one of the cons everyone should consider before planting all transplants.

Now let’s talk about starting your own seeds. This is definitely the more labor intensive option, but is the best option for gardeners with a little more free time, and for individuals who are seeking fruits and vegetables that are slightly more exotic than what can be found at your local store.

Pros for Starting Your Own Seeds:

Everything under the Sun

If you name it, they have it available in a seed catalog; you will be amazed at the amount of variety there is in just a single section. This will allow you to diversify your eating options. Whether you are looking to plant a tomato garden with 15 different kinds of tomato or you want five different kinds of carrots, starting your own seeds makes it easy.

You Are In Control

For individuals who are looking for 100% organic options, starting your own seeds is the best choice. You are in control of everything the plant is exposed to from day one. This eliminates any worry of strange chemicals, pesticides, or fertilizers. For anyone looking to start a home garden to eat cleaner, starting seeds is for you.

Saving Seeds

One thing that makes starting seeds far more cost effective is the fact that you can save your own seeds. This means that while individuals who use transplants have to buy new plants every year, you can buy seeds once and save seeds each season so you are only out that cost one time.

Seed Trading

One of the most fun parts of starting your own seeds is the fact that you can trade seeds with other gardeners. This allows you to try new things and talk about what works well in your garden. Trading seeds is a great way of sharing your knowledge and success in the garden.

Cons for Starting Your Own Seeds:

Time and Effort

Starting your own seeds is hard work; it takes patience and a tremendous amount of effort to get a fruitful harvest. Not only is it a trying process, but sometimes it just will not work out. This is something you need to know before starting your own seeds. This process isn’t just a physical effort, it requires a lot on knowledge on collection before you start, while you are in season, and after the season has ended. For some the challenges are exciting and fulfilling on their own, but make sure you are up for the work before you make your investments.

Extra Equipment and Space

If you are planning on starting your own seeds you will need a few extra things:
  • Grow Lights
  • Seed Trays
  • Transfer Pots
  • Celled Inserts
  • Propagation Mat
  • Seeds
  • Soil Test Kit
  • Seed Ready Soil
  • Seed Fertilizer
I would call this list the bare bones of what you will need to purchase if you intend to start your own seeds. You should also take a look at the square footage you have available for setting up a sprouting station and storage for this equipment when it’s not in use. While this is the cheaper of the two methods, be aware there will be some upfront cost and a large investment of square feet.

Seed Loss and Timing

When starting your own seeds, timing is everything. There is a ticking clock for where things have to be during the season. This can sometimes feel like a chore list where the consequences are having nothing to show for your time and hard work. Losing a crop that you started early in the season can be heartbreaking, but you have to take every situation as a learning opportunity. It’s also very important to remind yourself everyone has difficult seasons that don’t turn out.

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