Growing plants from seed can be a fun and rewarding way to add variety to your garden while saving money. A six-pack of lettuce plants can cost you about the same as a packet of several hundred seeds! Not to mention that there are many more unique and interesting varieties available by seed than from plants. Many people, especially those in cooler climates, start their seeds indoor and then transplant them when the last frost is past. But you can grow many plants from seeds sown directly in your garden. In addition, some plants just don’t like to be transplanted, for example spinach, carrots and beets, so it really makes sense to grow these from seeds directly in your garden. Planting from seeds outdoors makes sense when:
- You want to grow more than one or two of an item (or you have friends that you can share your seeds with).
- The plants you want are easy to grow from seed (see list below).
- You live in a mild climate, or you chose hardier varieties if you live in a cooler climate.
Easy Plants to Grow from Seed
- Sweet Peas
Understanding Seeds Types: Heirloom, Hybrid, and GMO
Heirloom seeds are “open pollenated” seeds. This means that they are pollenated naturally by wind, birds, or insects. Since the beginning of agriculture, farmers have been carefully selecting open pollenated seeds for beneficial traits.
Hybrid seeds (labeled F1 for “first generation”) are created by cross-pollinating two different but related plants. They are just as “natural” as open pollenated seeds. The downside of growing plants from F1 seeds, however, is that you cannot save the seeds from these plants to grow in following years. The resulting seeds will not have the same characteristics as their parent plant, nor will they be as vigorous.
GMOs (genetically modified organisms) include plants that have had their genetic material modified in way that does not occur naturally. Although many food crops (corn, soybeans, sugar beets, etc.) are genetically modified, you will not find genetically modified seeds in your local nursery. Genetically modified seeds are only available to farmers from special seed dealers, so no need to worry about inadvertently buying genetically modified seeds.