The seed purchases I made through catalog and online orders back in December are starting to arrive in my mailbox. Why such a delay? Most seed companies don't ship until it gets close to planting time and they take starting seed indoors into consideration.
Starting plants from seed is a great way to not only save money vs. buying over-priced starter plants in the spring, but you get to customize what will be in your garden. You get to choose what goes in your garden rather than having to settle for what a garden shop has in stock.
Every spring, you see all those pop-up garden centers being put up in parking lots, whether at the local grocery store or Walmart. I still frequent those, but they are limited in plant variety and even bonafide garden centers might not have a particular plant variety you're looking for. And again, you'll pay a premium for starter plants, it's spring time after all....
I received an order from Park Seed the other day. My order included:
- Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
- Italian Large Leaf Basil
- Salad Bowl Mix Organic Greens
- Radish Park Beauty Blend
- Greek Oregano
- Organic Arugula
- Organic Roma Tomato
- Cilantro Calypso
That total for that order cost me just $15.94 and that includes shipping costs. I would have spent at least five times that amount for starter plants and I wouldn't have found all those varieties in just one garden center location, pop-up or otherwise. In the past I've done the garden center hop thing... Pick up a few plants at Walmart, go to Lowe's looking for what I couldn't find at Walmart, check out the plants at the pop-up garden center at the local grocery store, travel to the local garden center for a look/see.... The end result is always spending more than desired and still not finding everything I want to put in my garden.
"But Mike," you say..... "Won't you spend just as much on dirt and lights that you would on starter plants?"
That first time purchase that an avid-gardener-in-the-making makes, perhaps. But lighting is really pretty cheap if starting plants is all you're doing, you don't need fancy plant lights. A southern exposure window (east exposure if you don't have one) and a little fluorescent lamp will go far in starting seed. And I would contend you can still spend less on starting seed in that first year than you would in the equivalent in starter plants and spending FAR LESS in years thereafter.
"How much space do I need?" You ask....
Not much, not much at all. Have a window sill big enough to hold an egg carton? Start some seed. Have some space on your desk by that desk lamp? Start some seed. Heck, I've been known to pull some small appliances off my kitchen counter to make room for starting seed. Being an avid gardener though, I've since bought some shelving dedicated for such a purpose.
After planting and caring for those seeds per the instructions that come with your seed order, you will have all the starter plants and then some you'll need for a custom garden in about six to eight weeks, perfect timing for spring planting!
Spend wisely my friends.....