Starting Seedlings: Get Ready

As I was writing this, I realized that there is a lot of information to fit in on this topic, so I decided to split it up into a couple of posts.  The first part will address reasons to start your own seeds, and then I will cover what you will need, and finally how to do it.

It’s early spring here in northwestern Pennsylvania, and we are talking about becoming more self-reliant and saving money, so a natural topic for this time of year is starting your own seeds.  It is kind of late for tomatoes and peppers, but there is still time to start broccoli, cabbages, herbs, flowers, and other plants.  Yes, I said flowers.  Flowers are not a waste of valuable real estate!  They provide nectar for bees and butterflies, and some are medicinal, and some are edible.  We’ll talk more about that later.

I’ve started my own seeds for a long time, but a couple of years ago I took a new job that involved a lot of driving, so I decided to save myself some time and buy my plants that year.  Wow!  Was that a mistake!  Not only were my choices limited in terms of varieties, but they cost $2 – $3 a six pack.  An entire packet of tomato seeds costs between .95 cents and $2 (depending upon the company, but that’s an average) and contains around 20 seeds per packet.  I started 150 tomato plants this year–seven different varieties–for $14.  It would cost me $50 to buy those plants, and the heirloom varieties I like would definitely not be available.

There are lots of places to buy seeds (I will discuss saving your own later in the season when there are actual seeds around here to save).  I prefer not to buy them from stores, especially places like Wal-Mart.  Many of the seed companies have been gobbled up by Monsanto over the last couple of years and I prefer to stick with small, mail-order companies that raise their own seed stock.  I like Pinetree Garden Seeds in New Gloucester, ME, and have been purchasing my seeds from them for the past twenty years.  I also like Fedco.  They are located in Maine, as well, and they are a cooperative of small growers who produce all kinds of untreated seeds for vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

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