Which you should plant – seeds or seedlings

  • SeedDisadvantages of planting seeds directly in your garden include:
    • Cold early spring soil delays germination and retards growth. This can permanently stunt plants and reduce yield. Container soil-mix warms up sooner and may allow you to plant earlier.
    • Insects and diseases in natural soil often kill seeds or tiny seedlings when they are most vulnerable.
    • Some birds enjoy new sprouts (crows love corn), and can eat plants as fast as they appear.
  • Advantages gained from transplanting seedlings in your garden include:
    • Good seedlings germinate fast and have a well-developed root system. They are better able to resist insects and diseases in the garden.
    • Strong healthy seedlings can grow in soil too cold for germination and emergence of new sprouts (Picture #6).
    • Crops mature earlier, yields are higher, and fruit quality is better.
    • Lengthens the growing season, often allowing a second crop in the same bed.
    • Weed, insect, and disease control require less time and lower costs.
  • Seedlings can be purchased or you can grow them yourself. Producing Your Own Seedlings (link 4) is covered in a later section.
  • Some plants should be planted from seed right in the garden. Carrots and parsnips are root crops that don’t transplant well, and beets, peas, radishes, and Swiss chard are hardy and can grow in the cold soil of early spring. See Guide to Seeding or Transplanting Chart.

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