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Thread: To grow from seed or not? That is the question!

  1. #9
    Snoop Puss's Avatar
    Snoop Puss is offline Early Fruiter
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    I buy plug plants for some types of veg and grow from seed in the case of others, so I do a mix and match. I don't have a propagator, greenhouse or sunny windowsill, though, and the last frost can be quite late here.

    Where are you based? If your last frost is quite early, it may be you don't need to buy any plug plants, especially if you've got a heated propagator and a greenhouse. And also what are you hoping to grow?

    Agree totally with VC and toomanytommytoes: don't bother with a roots collection, as you're likely to be disappointed by the result. Plus, for what they're offering, you could spend 20 pounds in the supermarket and get a lot more veg for your money. So long as the ground is warm enough (meaning probably later than the first sowing date given on seed packets in my experience), you'll do much better sowing root seeds directly in the ground than trying to transplant them unless you start each plant in an individual, deep paper pot and then transplant the whole lot, paper pot and all. This is a bit of a faff, but it's something lots of people do with parsnips to ensure germination and a long growing season.

    Lots of people grow onions from sets, so they're easy. Growing from seed is more satisfactory, in that onions are less likely to bolt from seed. But if it was impossible to grow from sets, no-one would ever bother. Leeks are perhaps worth buying as plug plants, as they need a very long growing period to bulk up.

    Brassicas don't need a heated propagator and will usually germinate quite readily in a module in an unheated greenhouse so long as the soil isn't too cold. You could buy plug plants, to save effort though. But don't bother buying a collection if you're not that interested in a lot of what's on offer.

    If you buy plug plants for tomatoes, you'll really restrict your choice, as there are far more varieties available as seed. They're also surprisingly expensive as plants in the UK. If you only want a small number of aubergines and peppers, you might consider growing them from plug plants, though.

    Squash, melons and courgettes are easy to start from seed, especially if you have a heated propagator and don't try and jump the gun and start them off too soon, leaving you with a plant that's desperate to be in the ground but conditions are still far too cold. Ditto sweetcorn.

    Lots of the online seed suppliers sell collections of plug plants, although the quality of the plants on arrival seems to vary. I've never bought online, only direct from nurseries.

    The other point is that seeds are very cheap compared with plug plants. Most people where I live grow from plug plants and nurseries abound. This means that plug plants are cheap here. An aubergine or pepper plant only costs me around 25 pence. Likewise tomato plants. They might not be as big as the ones my mum buys for five pounds in her garden centre in the UK, but at that price I wouldn't be buying many if any. Five quid buys a lot of packets of seed at places like MoreVeg or Premier Seeds Direct.
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  2. #10
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    Scarlet is offline O'Hara
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    I'm with SP, the best bit for me is the seed sowing stage! But if you are a new grower when that seed packet is in your hand it's tempting to bung the lot in a seed tray and that's where it all goes pear shaped.
    Pricking out hundreds of seedlings is no fun.

    Work out how many plants you want of each and stick to the number, sow a few extras in case of disasters ( you always need a few back ups) but don't go overboard - remember those seeds will also be good for next year or a second sowing later on in the season.

    Early on in the season when the weather isn't great, pottering in the green house is all you can do, If you can plant thinly in module trays, or singly in small pots, its not that time consuming - just don't sow hundreds. The last thing you need is to prick out 500 cauliflower seedlings.
    Last edited by Scarlet; 01-01-2019 at 04:40 PM.

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    Chestnut is offline Tuber
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    Depending how old your children are, they might enjoy helping? Probably best done when you have 1 adult per child available, but my friends 2 year old daughter loved sowing seeds and watering with her toy watering can (which had a very fine rose so ideal for seedlings).

    I am lucky my greenhouse is at home, so no need to travel to it. 10 mins each day for opening/closing door and watering when the seedlings get bigger. Extra half hour at weekends for sowing /potting on of big plants.
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  4. #12
    Aberdeenplotter is offline Gardening Guru
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    Quote Originally Posted by Small pumpkin View Post
    Seeds

    Or you will miss out on the most exciting part of gardening. Watching seeds germinate. No matter how many years you've been growing things the excitement and fascination never leaves you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Snadger View Post
    I couldn't have put it more succinctly myself!
    Must be a dau for agreeing as I also agree
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  5. #13
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    Seeds are cheaper plus (if you are careful to isolate) can be free if you save your own. You can gets loads of seeds in a packet, enough to last two or three seasons in some cases and you can easily afford to sow twice as many as you need and select the best. There's also masses more selection.

    Sets are much easier for onions though and dirt cheap. I'm also personally inclined to just buy a couple of tomato plants like sungold, gardeners delight, Shirley etc from the garden centre because they're cheap enough if you just want a few plants.
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    Posted on an iPad so apologies for any randomly auto-corrected gobbledegook

  6. #14
    bikermike is offline Tuber
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    I would do a mix. seeds, especially early ones, can be quite susceptible to lack of water (and indeed over-watering). Also, if you grow them in propagators, you have the risk of them growing very leggy if you don't take them out at the right time.

    I have also had very limited luck getting anything to grow from seed at my allotment, I suspect wildlife eat them as they sprout.

    I do a mix of bought plants and seeds (mainly seeds). I tent do start a lot of seeds (including carrots and parsnips) off in loo roll centres in the greenhouse. You can then transplant these without disturbing the roots.

    plants I tend to buy
    - courgette/squash
    - some tomatoes
    - fruit bushes
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  7. #15
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    Seed every time - until you run out of time

  8. #16
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    I much prefer to grow from seed, that it's cheaper is a bonus but mostly it feels more of an achievement getting from seed to crop.

    In my first year on the allotment, with the exception of some Daubentons Kale, I filled the whole plot with plants all grown from seed in a very small greenhouse. This would have cost an absolute fortune if I had used plug plants.

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