Sourcing Plants and Seeds
Now that you’ve decided what to grow, it’s time to obtain your plants.
The easiest thing to do is to buy plants or seedlings from a garden center. This option can be quite expensive, though.
One cheaper option is to regrow certain plants from scraps of vegetables or herbs. Potatoes, onions, and garlic are all grown this way.
The other affordable option is to grow your plants from seeds. You can buy seed packets at gardening or home improvements stores. Some seed packets are expensive, but remember that you likely will not use the entire packet. Most seeds can be saved and used next year, as long as you store them properly.
There are also ways of getting cheap or free seeds!
If buying seeds from a store, the cheapest option is usually hybrid seeds. To understand what hybrid seeds are, we need to talk biology. As we know, plants produce seeds so their species can survive. Hybrid seeds are produced by breeding two different varieties of a plant. They are the Labradoodles of the plant world – two different parents.
Hybrid seed packets
Hybrid plants are not open-pollinated. This means that you can harvest the seeds they produce, but any plants you grow from those seeds might turn out a little wonky. The fruit might taste weird, or certain plants will produce very little fruit, or the seeds may not sprout at all. The genetics will be inconsistent. As a result, you typically need to buy fresh hybrid seeds each year.
Open-pollinated seeds are the opposite of hybrid seeds. Plants grown from these seeds are roughly genetically identical to their parent plant(s). This means that you can harvest and save the seeds from these plants and plant them next year, and you will get the exact same results as the previous year (as long as that variety did not cross-pollinate with any other varieties in your garden - there are ways to prevent this from happening).
Open-pollinated seed packets
Open-pollinated seeds are most often labeled “Heirloom” on seed packets (not all open-pollinated seeds are heirloom, but all heirloom seeds are open-pollinated). They are slightly more expensive than hybrid seeds, but once you buy them, you have a lifetime supply since you can save the seeds to use again next year. Growing these varieties also contributes to seed diversity because it keeps very old varieties around for future generations to enjoy. If you can’t find heirloom seeds in your area, you can order them online from some great family-owned businesses (see Resources for a list!)
However, certain seeds like beet and carrot seeds are time consuming to harvest, so it may be easier to just buy the hybrids.
Some people only purchase seeds specifically marked “organic”, but in my experience this isn’t necessary. Your vegetables will be nutritious regardless. You can get cleaner vegetables if you avoid using chemical pesticides and weedkillers on or near your vegetables while they're growing.
Once you're ready to start your seeds, it’s time to soak them!
As always, if you have any questions or tips to share, please comment below!
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