What's your opinion about starting seeds yourself? I have this love/hate relationship with seed starting. And today I'm gonna talk about it. Hopefully as spring is slowly coming upon us you're already trying to decide what to plant and where to plant them.
Making our little charts and graphs while looking through the seed catalogs is a grand old tradition. Mulling over germination periods, companion planting and crop rotation really make you feel productive and gives a nice sense of accomplishment.
And it's that whole germination thing that gets the brain working hard. First you have to consider the last average frost date (around May 15th here) and then, depending on the seeds you're going to start, you have to count back a certain number of weeks to determine when to begin your seed starting.
And, that gets back to my love/hate relationship. Let's talk about the reasons for and against starting your own seedlings.
Personally, I can only come up with 3 reasons on the plus side:
1) There's an undeniable link between we humans and our soil. Creating the growing medium (even if it does come in prepackaged trays), planting each seed and waiting for the first little sprout appear are all things that deep down make us feel good. God knows it's no great accomplishment, but, still the satisfaction and pride that comes with seeing the first little shoot break through the surface seems really primal.
2) You get to choose your plants. If you've been looking through the catalogs and see "Grannies Heritage Heirloom 3 Seed Blue Tomato that weighs one pound each" and you want to be the talk of the neighborhood being the only one to grow them well then you buy the seeds and proudly starting the process. There's usually not much variety at most nurseries to choose from.
3) Your home looks like a nursery for 6-8 weeks. There's tray everywhere, grow lights hanging in closets, corners and basements. There's misting bottles, popsicle sticks, seed packets, bags of soil and pots for replanting scattered all around the house. You have to admit that you probably look pretty smart to all of the visitors to your house. And most of them usually say stuff like: "I could never do that!" or "Wow, that looks like a lot of work!"
And that brings me to my reasons against it:
1) The investment. There's grow lights and trays and seeds (which aren't cheap anymore) and racks and heating pads. And if you're really into it you'll probably end up getting some type of greenhouse to place the seedlings in when the get taller and your trying to harden the off. I never could quite come up with a decent grow light set up. Your supposed to always have the light about two inches above the plants and keep raising the light (or lowering the plants) as things progress. But, all of that requires hooks and chain and pretty soon you have a setup that begins to look like Dr. Frankensteins lab.
2) I don't necessarily need Grannies Heritage Heirloom 3 seed Blue Tomatoes. I just want regular tomatoes that can go on my sandwich or be made into a sauce for canning. And so I'm perfectly fine going to the nursery and coming home with the same old Beefstake or Roma that everyone else has. No pride issue for me there. And I don't mind paying a little more for someone else to grow them for me. I can even get organically grown varieties.
3) No disappointment when I fail. A couple of years ago I had started 40 cucumber plants and when the last average frost date came around I proudly planted each one in its assigned space and waited for the magic to happen. Well, the only magic to happen was a freak snow fall that I wasn't aware was coming and all 40 died. <insert heartbreak here> Sigh. So, I went to the nursery and bought some more and began to wonder why I didn't just go there to start with.
4) Nothing to clean up and put away. Nothing to sanitize or sterilize or box up and store until next year. Now, if you're someone that loves seed starting this isn't a big deal to you. It's all part of the package, but, I'm a lazy farmer here on the micro-homestead. We have gardens that, for the most part, are self watering and self feeding; and raised beds that keep down the weed population so I don't have to weed much anymore. Whole areas are covered in wood chips to produce good soil, but, another sly reason is because we have less area to have to mow.
Soooooo, chime in. Yea or Nay? What's your preference?
Ray is part of the Ray and Randi duo, who actually don't live on the farm. They have a micro-homestead in Gilmanton, but are VERY active over at IFP and are guest bloggers for them.
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