A lot of people buy their plant starts from big box stores and I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing. I purchase plant starts from big box stores and nurseries, but there are so many benefits to starting seeds yourself. I think a lot of people think starting seeds is more labor intensive than they are interested in, and they would be right. Or, and I think this is more accurate, people don’t know HOW to start seeds.
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Benefits Of Starting Seeds
Oh, let me count the benefits of seed starting. But in all seriousness, there are a ton of benefits but I’m going to limit this post to three main areas; varieties, skills and saving money. There are thousands and thousands of varieties out there! Plus, if you learn how to start your own seeds, you will not only save money and build skills, but you also get to try all these amazing varieties!
Trying Different Varieties
Big box stores have to purchase/ sell plants based on what customers will buy. Nurseries start plants based off of what big box stores will buy. Because of that, you are just not going to find the rare, weird or amazing varieties in a store. Sure, some nurseries will start that odd ball tomato variety, but the reality is that you will be limited on what you can choose from.
Y’all, there are literally 10,000 varieties of tomato seeds! And you are only getting the choice of maybe 20. Maybe.
Also, when you start your own seeds, you can get local varieties that do well in your location. Some tomato plants don’t do well in the oppressive southern heat but if that’s the only variety available at the big box store? Your tomatoes may shrivel up and die before you ever harvest anything off it.
In my seed inventory, I’ve got about 30 varieties of tomato, 10 variety of cherry tomatoes, 25 different hot peppers, 10 different sweet peppers, and 10 different varieties of corn. That’s just a few of them!
Learning New Skills
The benefits of starting seeds isn’t limited to saving money and varieties, it also grows your gardening muscle. I talked about gardening being a skill in this blog post, but it really only talks about growing the garden. There are so many more skills to learn when it comes to gardening and starting seeds is a HUGE skill that a lot of people think they can’t do.
When you take the time to really learn how to grow something from seed, you are taking back more of your independence. And to be honest, starting your own seed really isn’t that hard. Sure, there are more steps that you have to remember and it’s not as easy as dropping a plant in the ground. You’ve got to baby seeds for a little bit.
One of the areas that I have been working hard on is my seed starting and garden planning. I use Seedtime . I’ve been using it to track seed starting, garden plans and more. I’ve really enjoyed using it!
If you are interested in learning more about my favorite garden planner. I highly recommend Seedtime! This planner has been instrumental in helping me plan out my gardens with WAY more efficiency than I could ever expect! It has also reduced overwhelm, stress, and calmed my ADD/ADHD!
But it really is as simple as putting seeds in dirt, keeping the soil damp (not drowning) and giving it some light. Everything else just makes it easier.
Now, in theory, you will save a TON of money by starting your own seeds. Unless you are a seed hoarder… In which case, you will still save money, but definitely not as much as you could. But there are tons of ways that starting your own seeds can save you a ton of money. Like the amount of seeds you get in a seed packet is MORE than enough to start a years worth of plants. Or the fact that a single cabbage plant at a box store is going to be $3-5 but only yields one vegetable.
Seed packets are amazing little gifts that are totally underrated. I would LOVE my entire Christmas/ Birthday presents to be nothing but seed packets. Why? Because it’s literally the gift that keeps on giving. That person is giving me the gift of FOOD, mental health, and building my gardening skills. Plus the ability to feed my family. How awesome is that?!
A standard seed packet is usually 3x4in, holds about 10-100 seeds and is usually around $2-5. The reason for the range totally depends on the seed. I’ve got a pack of tomato seeds that are $7 for 10 seeds. But it’s a variety that does well in cooler weather. Why would I need that? Because I can start it earlier and harvest tomatoes sooner, or I can plant it later and harvest tomatoes into October/ November.
Buying Plant Starts
I’ve bought plant starts and I will probably always buy some starts. There are some plants that are just easier to purchase from a store or nursery. Things like onion, potato, strawberries, garlic, and flowers. But to save money, I start all of my tomatoes, peppers, brassicas, sunflowers, pumpkins, squash, and more.
To give you the best example, at the big box stores a cabbage plant is $3-5 but at the store a cabbage is usually less than $1. That doesn’t make any damn sense. Let’s not mention that the cabbage plant is going to bolt in a matter of weeks because you can’t grow a baby cabbage plant, in May, in the south!
But when we are talking about other plants like tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins and squash, you really want to at least TRY to start seeds. If it doesn’t work, go get your starts from the store and try again next year. Again, a seed packet is, on average, $3 and gives you about 30 seeds. Even at 50% germination (and it will probably be more like 99%) you will end up with 15 plants. A big box store will sell those same plants for $5 each. You are saving $72 on 15 plants! But if you get all those seeds to germinate and grow, you are looking at saving $147! That’s just one seed packet.
I know it sounds sales-y but I promise you, if you have good soil, good light and a fair amount of heat, you can save hundreds of dollars on your garden.
My Seed Stash
My seed stash is valued somewhere in the ballpark of $1200. That doesn’t count the boxes or other storage. And yes, that is a LOT of money. And NO, you don’t need to invest that kind of money into your seed stash. In fact, with the right discount codes, I could grow my entire 50×100 garden with only $100. But…. my name is Leigh and I am a seed hoarder. Though, I prefer the term seed collector.
Now, I LOVE starting seeds for a lot of reasons. The first is that I get to play in the dirt earlier. I start my cool/cold loving plants in February and put them in my greenhouse. If you don’t have a greenhouse, you can absolutely put them on a shelf next to a window or get yourself some cheap shop lights.
The second reason I love starting seeds is because of variety! When you go to the grocery store, you are getting produce that is grown for a grocery store. That means the variety must grow to consistent size, ship well, and be able to sit on a shelf for a far amount of time. All of these things have a sacrifice and it’s usually flavor.
When you start your own seeds, you get to start the weird varieties. Like a tomato that is all black or a melon that looks like a winter squash and tastes like candy. But more importantly, you get a fruit or vegetable that is packed with flavor.
What Are Your Favorite Benefits Of Seed Starting?
I would love to hear from you! Drop your favorite varieties in the comments!
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