Starting your own vegetables from gardening seeds is great fun and gives you a great choice of the varieties.
There is a much wider choice of vegetables and herbs available than in starter plants you can buy at your local nursery. Growing your own plants from seeds is also much cheaper.
Well…that depends! I know you were hoping for an easy answer…sorry! The sowing method you will choose depends on the type of plant, the time of the year and your facilities i.e if you have a glass house, conservatory or enough space indoors.
Find a brief overview of sowing methods below.
This is also called sowing in-situ. You sow your vegetables right where you are going to grow them. This requires a well-prepared seed bed and a weed free soil. This is the right method for crops that don’t transplant well like carrots or that grow very fast e.g. radishes or scallions. Basically, a lot of vegetables can be grown this way but I personally find that you get a more even result with pre-started seedlings with a lot of crops.
The gardening seeds are sown into seed trays or plugs in a greenhouse or on a windowsill. When they are large enough you transplant the hardened off seedlings into their final bed position. This is, of course, more work but it is also more successful with a lot of vegetables. Small seedlings are very vulnerable.They are prone to slug damage or can be easily disturbed by scratching birds. Planting out more mature seedlings usually yields a more even result.
Prime candidates for pre-sowing are tomatoes, cucumbers or pumpkins.
Organic, heirloom, open pollinated, F1 Hybrid, GMO …oh my! It’s so confusing you might say! Let me shed some light into these terms for you…
These are produced according to organic standards i.e no use of toxic chemicals or artificial fertilizers.
These are old or traditional varieties. Heirloom varieties are usually not used for commercial growing because they are not so productive. They have other advantages for the home gardener, though. Heirloom vegetables have better flavours and are often more disease resistant. They can be better adapted to specific local climates.
By using heirloom seeds, you help to preserve old varieties and keeping a cultural heritage.
Open Pollinated Seeds:
The parent plants have been openly pollinated by bees or other pollinators. This way of growing is very natural but you can also expect some variation in the plants. This is not necessarily a bad thing because you can select the best plants and save seeds from them. Open pollinated seeds have the advantage that you can save your own seed.
These varieties have two different parent varieties (of the same species) that are crossed under controlled conditions. Now this does NOT mean that they are genetically modified! F1 Hybrids are not GMOs. They are just crosses that have specific characteristics that the parents don’t have. These F1 Hybrids are very even in their result and can be very productive. The seed of these is often more expensive. Another disadvantage is that you can’t save the seeds. The offspring of these plants will not be the same. They revert back to the parents.
These seeds are genetically modified under unnatural laboratory conditions. As far as I know they are not available as gardening seeds. These are usually used for commercial production e.g. corn or soy. Some have for example been modified to resist weed killers and other pesticides resulting in the use of even more chemicals. I wonder who benefits from that…
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