Seeds or transplants?

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By Broccoli Billy

To choose or not to choose, that is the question! There are a number of factors to consider between seeds and transplants. The main consideration is how well a plant will survive the transplant process. In other words: transplant-ability. Some plants could care less, such as broccoli, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes and cauliflower. Other vegetables such as carrot, English and Southern peas, beans, melons and turnips have a hard time surviving transplant.

Transplants have an advantage in that they can be grown in artificial conditions and set in the field for an earlier harvest, as opposed to seed in the field, though both will work. A combination of both seed and transplant should work best for the home gardener. Most of us do not plant single crops, and the need to “beat the market” is not an issue. There is a downside to transplants in that you are stuck with what is available. Some of the finer varieties for the home garden, including new varieties and disease resistant ones are not found in chain stores or garden centers.

I grow all my own transplants and I use close to 1000 per year. Now the cost issue comes into play. Unless you want very special varieties, stay with buying all your transplants. Do not forget 2-3 days of mild garden conditions, especially sunlight before they are set in the garden.

Now lets take a look at the world of seeds. All of our common vegetables are derived from seed at some stage. Plant scientists have been “fooling around with nature” for many decades and with surprising results. Scientists do many things to seeds that would not occur in nature. They bombard seeds with x-rays and chemicals to create new and better varieties. Seeds are crossbred for size, color, yield, and disease resistance.

It would appear we have a lot to choose from and we do. Here are the factors to consider when selecting seeds. Does the seed company have a high standard of quality, and a refund policy? Avoid fancy, unique and specialty varieties. Look for disease resistance and choose as much in a variety that is available. Select AAS (All American Selection) varieties, as these are proven winners. Avoid commercial varieties for the home garden. Commercial varieties are often developed for machine harvest, uniform stand with two outside rows and train them out of the garden proper. Purchase high quality disease resistant seeds and transplants. Most of all make your garden size something that is a joy and not a burden.

Next time lets talk about plant growth and the necessary elements for growing strong healthy plants.