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Old 06-11-2011, 03:43 PM   #1
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Is it better to grow from seeds or buy established plants?

This is only my 2nd summer growing my own vegetables and herbs, and I am still unsure if growing from seeds is better. I only did it because it's cheaper, and I wanted to grow a lot of things (around 20 or so), so that would be very expensive to buy all those as already established plants. But I'd say 75% of the seeds I plant don't grow, or they grow so badly that it becomes not worth it. I keep them well watered and in as much sun as possible, but I've always had them in pots, on a deck. Last year I used peat containers and hated them because you're supposed to plant them in with the dirt and they never disintigrate so they just look bad. This year I tried plastic ones that don't break apart and it was a disaster, I couldn't get the plants out without squeezing the bottom hoping it would push them out but most of the time I had to pull up from the plant itself.

Am I having bad luck because I haven't done this very much or because it's just hard to grow from seeds in general? I really can't afford to buy all the things I want as already established plants.

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Old 06-11-2011, 03:51 PM   #2
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It's kind of late in the season to start plants from seed. I past years, I gave up on growing from seed and just bought plants. I never had good luck with seeds.
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Old 06-11-2011, 03:57 PM   #3
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It's kind of late in the season to start plants from seed. I past years, I gave up on growing from seed and just bought plants. I never had good luck with seeds.
Oh I'm not starting them now, I started them 2 months ago, I'm just asking in general what is better. But since you've never had good luck, I don't feel so bad now! I just wish there was a way I could afford it because a lot of plants are $10 and that would cost me almost $200 to buy everything...that's more than how much produce I got from my plants last year!
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Old 06-11-2011, 04:06 PM   #4
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I suspect you're buying big plants. You don't have to.

When we had a vegetable garden we'd buy flats of a dozen tomato plants for $6.00. Of course they were only about 6"-8" tall. We'd plant them on or before Memorial day.
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Old 06-11-2011, 04:11 PM   #5
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You are from MN. The simple answer, if you don't have a great place to start them inside, is .... plants. Our season is great further north simply because of the long days we have. That said, the season is so damned short that starting most from seed is a joke. You'll get your first tomato the day before our first frost. So the simple answer is to buy seedlings and plant them after the last frost (here the tradition is after Mothers' Day, but we had a couple of hard frosts in the weeks after!).

Exceptions, to me, are lettuce, dill, and basil. Other hardy greens as well (although I bought my chard in plants this year as well, our season started so late).

I "discovered" something goofy by accident last year. I tossed out my spinach seeds in late fall/early summer. Just was throwing them away. With such a short season, and small plots, I can't be bothered with seed saving, proofing, etc. Well, I will do that every fall from now on. When our season finally got started I walked out to find a bed of spinach and some lettuce. Now I've harvested the spinach. It's been hot enough to bolt now, but we got a couple months of spinach and am about to harvest some "volunteer" lettuce from last year.

If you are a tomato grower, for next year I recommend "Early Girls".
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Old 06-11-2011, 04:15 PM   #6
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I'm probably not the best person to chime in here since this is really my first year of trying my hand at some serious gardening but I'll chime in anyway

This year, I put in a raised bed garden. I filled it with miracle grow garden soil. It was pretty expensive but next year I won't have to buy any and all I plan to do is to mix in a little manure. Anyway, I bought many of my plants but I did start my lettuce and mustard greens from scratch. Both of which did really well. I didn't start them in pots. I started them right in the garden. I don't know how well that would work for you though since I'm in Georgia and you're in Minnesota. Maybe you could try using the miracle grow garden soil in pots?

Here is a pic of the mustard greens that I started from seed right in the ground. I picked and froze them just the other day
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Old 06-11-2011, 04:21 PM   #7
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Another hint is that when you buy a tomato plant later in the season, and it's a little gangly, then pinch off the bottom row or two of branches. Either dig a hole deeper than you might, or make a sort of trench. The part of the stem that you've pinched the leaves from goes under ground. Those places you pinched the leaves from with put out roots and make a stronger plant. Great hint for late plantings.
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Old 06-11-2011, 04:25 PM   #8
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Mama, I can't say enough about raised beds. I don't have them now, but did in both Florida and Hawaii; and yes, the start up was $$$, but well worth it in the long run. (where I live now my husband jokes that everywhere else in the U.S. is dirt, here we have soil). When you use this method, I cannot recommend more highly Mel Bartholomew's "Square Foot Gardening" books. I don't do it much any more, but still use the old book I have for reference.
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Old 06-11-2011, 05:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AstraeaLunaAvani View Post
Oh I'm not starting them now, I started them 2 months ago, I'm just asking in general what is better. But since you've never had good luck, I don't feel so bad now! I just wish there was a way I could afford it because a lot of plants are $10 and that would cost me almost $200 to buy everything...that's more than how much produce I got from my plants last year!
it depends _hugely_ on your personal situation.

it takes a little warmth to sprout seeds. after that it takes _lots_ of strong light to make them become sturdy seedlings.

for 18 years I had a hobby greenhouse; it worked. I no longer have a greenhouse, I buy starts. that should tell your something.

I'm still gardening some 1,000 sq ft. - but I do not have the facilities to grow my own seedlings, reliably.

the question is not "better or worse" - it's "what works for you?" I know folks that have enclosed sun porches to die for. I could raise enough seedlings to . . . . but I don't have such facility comma anymore (sigh)
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Old 06-11-2011, 05:18 PM   #10
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I used to be a grow from seed freak, had grow lights set up in the basement, heating mats, and grew gabillions of flats of seedlings, both flowers and vegetables. Did this for about 20 years. A huge amount of work! Now I just buy the plants, other than lettuce, radishes, cukes, beans, and some herbs like dill which grow best for me from seed directly in the ground. Andy M is correct, just buy the little six packs or flats of small plants. They quickly catch up to the more expensive full size plants. Much cheaper than getting the big ones. I now grow all my vegetables in raised containers and we get more than enough produce. I also do as Claire does, trenching the big tomato plants.

We practice "square inch" gardening.
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