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Seeds or Plants?

550 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  mariposita
I'm completely new to gardening and finally have a place to do so, but I have no experience... is it better to buy seeds and plant those or to go to a nursery and buy the plants?

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it depends a bit on your location. some things it might be a bit late for seeds. what area or zone are you in?
I'm in TN - have no clue what the zone is...
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You can find out your zone here:

You need more time for seeds. If you are far enough north your growing season may be too short to start some plants from seed. Somethings have to be started from seed because they don't transplant well, like carrots. Other things mature quickly and are easy to grow from seed, like lettuce, radish.

If you can find your local agricultural extension, botanical gardens, a good gardening store, a plant club, etc. they should be able to give you specific information on what to start and when.
i went to a gardening workshop a couple of days ago and got a list of seed vs. transplant. i'll look for the list and type it up later.
Some things work better as seeds and some work better as transplants. I always do tomatoes from plants, squash and zuccini from seeds. carrots and radishes from seeds. peppers from plants (unless I get my poop in a group and get seeds started which has only happened once but I started them inside long before the last frost) . herbs i start from seed. beats nd okra from seed. cucumbers and broccoli from plants. I did the brocolli because iot was free though. never tried with seeds.
aliah, I am close--in KY a zone north of you, I think. For things that work well as purchased plants, that should be your preference. What do you want to grow?

Some plants need to be started outdoors only. Peas should already be in the ground in Feb/March, so skip those. Beans, corn, and squash should be planted in the ground in a few weeks.

I definitely recommend that you use transplants for tomatoes, peppers, broccoli or cabbage (my transplanted broccoli is already in the beds and it's just the right time, so hurry if you want these--they hate hot weather). Herbs really work well as transplants--just buy plants if you want basil or parsley or things like that. It is too late for you to start onions from seed, and most beginners don't bother, and even for sets/plants I think it is starting to be rather late. Consider these next year!

Your choices for salad are limited--I usually grow spinach and lettuce outdoors from seed in Feb-early March so if you want any transplants are simply necessary because these will do poorly in our summer heat. Chard can be seeded in the ground right now, if you like chard and want a green that will be okay in the coming heat. Carrots need to be directly seeded, and you can start almost as early as spinach and peas, but plant some now and these should do well. Likewise with beets.

A big concern is the soil condition if you didn't plan to garden ahead of time and you haven't prepped much. I think sticking mainly with tomatoes (buy plants), squash (sow approx. early June), beans (sow approx. early June), and herbs (buy plants) is best if your soil isn't very rich/enriched because these can be less picky than others about soil and weed issues. If your soil is easily worked, carrots and beets (seed right away!) may be fine if you watch the wee things for weed competition.

Easy annual flowers such as sunflowers and cosmos and calendula can go in right away, too, from seed. But most other flowers will work better as purchased plants because the start gives you much longer bloom time and is just so much easier. Consider asking a good nursery's staffperson about perennials that are easiest to manage, so you can have flowers (or fruits) come back every year. Perennials are almost always better as purchased plants because they are slower and harder to grow from seed.
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finally able to get back here to post this...

pros to direct seeding (seeds):
-cheap and easy
-successions (replanting after harvesting)

cons to direct seeding:
-frequent watering (up to several times a day to get the starts going)
-poor weed competitor
-seasonal effects intense

pros to transplants:
-beat the season (they're started before you could plant outdoors)
-head start on weeds
-no worry germination
-no thinning
-weather immunity

cons to transplants:
-labor/care and gear intensive if you're starting your own
-expensive purchasing if buying
-best varieties not always available

here's a list by plant of which generally works best:

Direct seeding:
beans, pole and bush
salad mix

perennial herbs
brussell sprouts
garlic (cloves)
spuds (pieces of seed potato)

The following could do well with either method, it just depends on the amount/type of activity you'd rather do:
chinese cabbage
winter and summer squash
lettuce (early, mid and late)

hope this helps!
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