So as you know, there are lots of ways to garden. Everyone seems to have a preference and opinion on how to do things. Thankfully, with the GreenStalk there is room for error and experimentation because each GreenStalk has between 18-30 planting pockets (depending on how high you stack it). In the GreenStalk, you can grow from seed, starter plants or replant kitchen your kitchen scraps (such as green onions, celery, etc.). You can even plant a combo of all three in one tower!
However in this post I am going to go over the main pros and cons to direct sowing seed compared to growing from a starter plant. I won't be comparing indoor seed starting because to me, that's kind of a crossover between both. It's a growing from seed but also transplanting a starter plant.
For our testing, we grow almost exclusively from seed. This works great for us because it saves money and we can track the growth of the plant from seed through harvest. There are just a couple of exceptions to this "rule," sweet potatoes, strawberries, lingonberries, raspberries and blueberries. We bought starter plants for those basically because they were easier to find and plant.
So here are some great reasons for starting plants from seed:
Reason #1 - Know where your food comes from
Growing from seed is one of the only ways to know exactly where your food comes from. Assuming you purchase your seeds from a reputable company, you could control everything in your food supply chain from soil to fertilizer. I have purchased starter plants not knowing where they came from, what kind of soil they were planted in or even if they were grown organically. Knowing the origin of a plant also helps with knowing how to care for it in the future.
Reason #2 - It's limitless
Did you know that the produce available to you at the grocery store is not chosen based on taste or even health benefits? As it turns out, transportation, supply, appearance and cost are huge factors in what variety of banana, apple, kale, lettuce, etc. is selected for resale at your local grocery store. How often do you go to the grocery store and find 4 different varieties of kale? I can go outside right now and harvest 4 different varieties of kale from our GreenStalk gardens. How cool is that?! You control what you grow, when and how much. Seeds can help you achieve a goal of eating more fresh vegetables because you now have access to thousands of different vegetable varieties. You're no longer limited by what's in-stock at your grocery store or what starter vegetable plants are in-stock at your local garden center.
Reason #3 - Cost savings
It's cheaper. Need I say more? You can get a packet of really good seeds for $3.50 but if you buy starter plants it could cost between $1.00 - $5.00 for a single plant! This is a huge benefit when growing fruits and vegetables for savings on your grocery bill. It's pretty neat when you can turn $3.50 into $100.00 worth of food!
Reason #4 - It's easy
If you're planting in a GreenStalk, it's really easy to start your plants from seed. Just plant 2-5 seeds per pocket and follow the depth of planting instructions on the seed packet. It can be helpful to water the soil before planting so that way you don't displace the seed when watering. Until you see your plants coming up, you may need to water each pocket. Just make sure the area around the seed stays moist - not wet! Once you see sprouts coming up, just water from the top water reservoir and that's it!
There are also some really good reasons why it may be better to grow from starter plants:
Reason #1 - Seeds take time
There are a lot of benefits but there are drawbacks. When you direct sow in your garden, you have to wait for that seed to germinate and that takes time. If you are living in an area with a short growing season, it can be challenging to grow a wide variety of vegetables from seed. It is however a huge benefit to be able to pick up a couple of tomato plants from your local garden center that may even have a couple of tomatoes growing on it than waiting several weeks to achieve that same growth. Starter plants are especially helpful if you are getting a late start in the garden. If you are impatient or you like things to look pretty right from the start, growing from seed may not be such a good idea. Some people plant seeds and expect them to germinate within a couple of days. For many plants, that just doesn't happen - it usually takes weeks!
Reason #2 - Growing from seed can be intimidating
If you are new to gardening, growing from seed can be intimidating and it can be easy to mess up. For example, you can plant a seed too deep, too shallow, displace the seeds when watering, plant too many, plant too few or not provide enough light. If you have to wait to seeds to germinate and they don't then you are weeks behind in your growing season. When you grow from a starter plant, you already have an idea of what the plant looks like and what it looks like when it's healthy.
When it comes down to it, it's personal preference. There is no right or wrong way to garden as long as you have a positive gardening experience and your plants are healthy. In my garden, I have a mix of starter plants and seeds. I love growing from both and will continue to do so. There are many benefits to growing your own food and how you achieve that goal is up to you. That's part of the fun of gardening - there are so many options!
What's your favorite way to start your garden? Let me know!
Cody Catherine Thomas