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Apr 14, 2009 02:52 PM

I really never start vegetables from seeds

When we first moved to the country, I had a long list of all the heirloom varieties of vegetables that I was going to start from seed. Then I went to our little weekly Growers Market and found literally everything on my list as transplants. Let's face it. Most of us home gardeners really only need one squash plant, one each of several different types of tomatoes, etc. My first vegetable garden had way too many of each thing. So now I'll buy one yellow crookneck squash (so delicious cut in half, brushed with olive oil and cooked on the grill), a Brandywine tomato, a Costoluca Genovese (how much did I murder those words?), a grape tomato, a six pack of basil, a couple of oreganoes. And, although our winters get down in the teens regularly, my rosemary gets whacked with the loppers at least once a year.

If you want an excellent book on small scale gardening check out "Square Foot Gardening."

Just a few words above from an always-beginner gardener.

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  1. agree, my only exception is snap peas which I grow on my deck. There's something life affrirming this time of year (before last frost) in watching some pea plants start from seed.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DGresh

      Same here - for most things I use seedlings, but I have three types of peas (pod, sugar snap, and snow) started from seed, as well as a row of French breakfast radishes.

    2. Funny, I think that's the book on my reserve list at the library. I use both seed and plants from the farmer's market/botanic garden. Chili peppers are very very easy from seed, fer instance.

      Parsley is one thing I totally recommend starting from seed for everybody, especially since you live in the country. As in, a packet of seed dumped on a few square feet of dirt, or in a large container like a half barrell. It takes 3 weeks to sprout, but just when you give up, it goes. No maintenance required.

      The other is nasturtiums, because they are reliable and easy and I'm too cheap to buy one of those hanging baskets of them when the seeds are so easy. Nick them, or at least soak them overnight, before planting.

      Buying plants is totally easy indeed . . . having them come back or self-sow is pretty cool too. My container of mint has put up its tiny leaves from those hardy roots that no doubt froze solid over one week this winter...

      3 Replies
      1. re: pitu

        I have 4 huge containers of nasturiums started from seeds. It took 2 weeks for them to germinate. The package did not say to soak the seeds over night. How am I supposed to know this? Thanks for mentioning it. I will do it next year. On the other hand I bought a package of Morning Glory seeds and the instructions were to soak for 24 hours. have the package of seeds rose to the top of the water glass. Which are the good seeds? The ones at the bottom?
        What about radish seeds? Do I soak them or not?

        1. re: Smachnoho

          My radishes sprouted in about four days, unsoaked. I don't think they need it.

          1. re: Smachnoho

            With those really big hard seeds (like morning glories) you can scratch or chip them before you soak. Maybe I read it on a package, maybe my mom told me....
            : )

        2. I have started salad greens from seed. Other than that the rest of my garden is seedlings.

          12 Replies
          1. re: Brandon Nelson

            I have a container garden on my back porch - we have a small backyard and a really big tree with loads of shade so this is the only place to grow a garden

            I tried growing heirloom tomatoes from seeds - they grew into tiny seedlings & but didn't thrive once transplanted, ditto for the peas.

            The heirloom lettuce was the easiest thing - sprinkled in the container & water.
            My basil, lavender and chives didn't even sprout.

            I will be going to my local organic garden center for my vegetable garden this year... and I will be picking up that book - Square Food Gardening.

            1. re: Apple

              Check the book out of the library if it's available. I think it's a fascinating concept.

              1. re: c oliver

                I just checked - all 6 copies are checked out of the Toronto Public Library system! Looked up a couple other container garden books - all checked out or on hold... next year - it pays to start earlier... I may persue the local bookstore to see if it's worth buying (it's on amazon for about 15 bucks)

                1. re: Apple

                  I definitely think it's worth buying but I'd still like for you to actually look at it. Maybe at a garden center?

                  1. re: Apple

                    I believe there is a pretty good website, too.

                    Here it is...

                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                        Thx for the website -- there are sooo many Holds on that book at the library. It took a while to get it, and I had to return it on time...
                        and now I totally want to grow shitake and miatake mushrooms.

                      2. re: Apple

                        I am #27 of 27 on the hold list at my library. But I discovered there is also a video and I am #1 on the list for 15 available copies of the video:
                        Title: Introducing square foot gardening [videorecording] / Mel Bartholomew and Suzy Valentine.
                        Portion of title: Square foot gardening
                        Edition: All new version.
                        Publication info: Eden, Utah : Square Foot Gardening Foundation, c2005.
                        Physical descrip: 1 videocassette (36 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.
                        General Note: New version of: Introduction to square foot gardening. c2000.
                        Performer: Host, Mel Bartholomew.
                        Summary: Demonstrates a simple method of growing vegetables, flowers, and herbs without investing a lot of time or labor. Based on the best selling garden book: Square foot gardening, by Mel Bartholomew.

                      3. re: c oliver

                        I started a square foot garden two years ago to take advantage of all the dead lawn in my backyard. I started with 2 4x4 boxes and added another 4x4 and a 3x8 this spring. I'll probably add a potato bin and a root box (for carrots and other deep root veggies) next year.

                        I just used pine as it's MUCH cheaper than redwood and in the dry weather out here will still last years.

                        I also started composting; now I collect all the coffee grounds, paper towels (except those used to wipe up anything oily), vegetable trimmings and egg shells from the kitchen and toss them in the bin.

                          1. re: meadandale

                            Paper towels can be composted? What type? How long does it take for them to break down?
                            I compost but hadn't thought of putting paper towels in the bin.

                        1. re: Apple

                          Its pretty hard to start seeds indoors unless you have a light set up. other considerations are warmth and maintenance of humidity/moisture for germination and growth. Covering the seeded flats or pots is pretty much essential until your seeds are up, after that, consistent watering and feeding along with the strong light source will give you the nice starts.

                          Having said that, I havent planted anything indoors yet this year! Basil is super easy however if you observe the above requirements.

                      4. I've started basil from seed and it never seems to do well, so I've given up.

                        I only use seeds that I'd start in the ground, like peas, carrots and beets. This year I'll probably do lettuce from seed too. I have started squash from seed but you're right, it's just as easy to pick up transplants at a local farmer's market or nursery. I don't have a nice sunny window that I can currently use for starting seeds, so it's more trouble than it's worth.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: Chris VR

                          see note above. Basil is really easy to start indoors, but you need to have moist, warm conditions (like under lights and covering your seedling pots) for it to germinate well. take the cover off after its all sprouted.

                          1. re: jen kalb

                            It's not the germination that's been a problem for me, it's just that the plants I get never really take off. *Shrug* my tomatoes go like gangbusters and i've never had any problems with them, so I've come to accept that basil just doesn't want to grow for me!

                            1. re: Chris VR

                              its a delicate heat and water loving plant. warmth, light, water fertility. its mechanical. not personal. Especially before it warms up fully, basil doesnt grow much in a window, in my experience. Under lights or perhaps with some kind of humidity dome that warms up its environment its a different story.

                              1. re: jen kalb

                                one summer, total accident..I was on vacation. I bought a herb tee pee to cover the plants and used a water pole that keeps the levels good while on vacation. I came home to a basil plant double its size because the humidity level was what it craved. Now, I tent the plants regularly.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  TJs around here sells really nice basil plants. I keep it indoors, snip away and when it dies I throw it out. Cheap and easy.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    c, how long does a basil plant last before you consider it dead? I've never seen a basil plant for sale at TJ's that had more than 2 branches on it.

                                    For a buck more I buy a large pot, basil already started from seed that last 6 months in my porch. That's cheap & easy.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      They're huge - probably 18" tall ? - and maybe 8-12" in diameter. It probably doesn't really *die* but I'll cut leaves for at least a month til there are no leaves left. And maybe it cost $3. It's just easy; I admit it. We travel alot and things planted in the ground are on drip. Just lazy :)

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        Makes sense, especially if you travel alot. Indoor herb gardens do take tending to. Outdoors, in the early stage, even more of a commitment. One work trip and I lost half a garden one year. Learned my lesson.

                                        For 3 bucks that plant is about what my market offers out of the pot in the produce section. Dead of winter in NJ, if I'm out of frozen basil, I'll spend 2-3 bucks for a fresh herb w/roots to make killer pesto. I love basil.

                          2. re: Chris VR

                            Some things are pissy about being transplanted - and there are some places where some transplanting just does not work. I have found - and others may have a different experience - that root veggies like carrots and turnips don't transplant well. I have never tried beets - I sow directly, but I think they might be finicky too, but might work if you wanted greens only. Melons sometimes do not translate well either. Ditto that on cucumbers... not that I have not tried.

                            You really need a grow mat, proper lighting with times of rest and something to exercise them (like a fan). So pesky.

                          3. I whack the seeds of my butternut pumpkins over the balcony and am rewarded with lovely lush vines (but not so much fruit) later in the year. This year, I am going to get all jiggy with my pumpkins and not leave it to nature.