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Things to know about growing from seed

Bean seedlings

When you start a family vegetable garden there are two growing methods to choose from:  Grow your plants from seed, or purchase already raised seedlings and plant those into pots or the garden. Which one should you choose?

This post is a themed monthly update for the Garden Share Collective. The Collective is a group of keen vegetable gardeners from around the world. This month’s theme is Seeds. When you are done here, take a wander around some of the other gardens in the group via the links below this post.

Busy mums may find that planting seedlings is an easier and quicker option for beginning a vegetable garden. The pre-work has been done and the plants are ready to go straight into the ground. Starting the growing process from this point will obviously reduce the time until your vegetables or herbs are ready to be harvested and enjoyed on the family meal table.

BUT… don’t discount the benefits of growing from seed. Growing from seed shows your children the life cycle of a plant. The development of a tiny seed, to a productive plant that you can harvest fresh food from is a great adventure and learning experience. A truly amazing miracle of life.  There many reasons to choose to grow from seed in your kitchen garden. If you are new to growing vegetables you can read more on this and find my instructions on how to plant seeds with children over at  Planning With Kids today.  The post focuses on using materials from around the home and doing the activity with the kids.

The main reason that I choose to grow from seed is that it provides access to a huge number of varieties that are simply not available from the nursery when you purchase ready grown seedlings. I also am able to select non genetically modified and organic seeds to grow. This is important to me.

Tomato seedlings

As with any specialty product, there are large variations in seed quality and company integrity. I urge you to research the brands that purchase. If you have been growing for some time you may have already noticed that some brands grow well for you and some just don’t seem to ever work?

This year I connected with a local farm that specialises in open pollinated certified organic seed, Birdland Organic Seed.  I love the way they operate so much that I am using their seed in my newly launched Kitchen Garden Boxes.  Ben, the owner of Birdland Seed, germination tests his stock to ensure they will grow for his customers. He showed me a test he had in progress of some of his seed and some organic seed from another supplier and I was astounded at the variance. The seeds from other supplier had a  tiny germination rate, in fact there was barely a shoot to be seen.  In contrast it was a challenge to locate a seed from Ben’s that had not germinated.  If you have ever tried to grow plants from seed  that did not germinate it was probably not your fault! If this has happened to you, I urge you to not give up on growing from seed. Change seed suppliers and try again.

My experience over the past couple of months learning what is involved in the growth and supply of seed has made me think about many things that I had not previously considered.  It has me pondering why there are some many seeds included in the packets of some brands.  If you grow one or two zucchini plants each year, do you really need to have a packet of 100 seeds? That is 50 years worth of plants!! Maybe you do need that many if they are poor quality and only a few are destined to germinate…

Exploring the farm of Birdland Organic Seed, sorting, counting, weighing, bagging and labeling the seeds has given me a huge appreciation of the magic of seeds. It has provided me with an understanding of how precious each one is and the work involved in collecting them.  It has been a great learning opportunity and allowed me to go back to the basics of gardening and really think about the complete process and cycle involved.

seeds

Spring is the time to get your seeds planted. The gorgeous sunshine returns and the little plants burst up through the soil to reach out to it. Until Spring is well under way I keep my seedlings inside on a bench in the shed as the nights remain cool and a little brutal for the tiny plants. Not to mention the pests such as slugs and snails that they have to battle.

This month the seeds I have started are:

  • Basil
  • Beetroot
  • Beans
  • Chives
  • Cucumber
  • Corn
  • Echinacea
  • Fennel
  • Lettuce
  • Marigold
  • Tomatoes
  • Zinnia

Grow Basil from seed

The tomatoes, basil and cucumber will remain inside for quite some time. I will plant another batch of tomatoes in the coming weeks so that there is some spacing between the harvests.

At the end of next month I will plant zucchini and pumpkin seeds. It is still too cool for them at the moment.   Once the soil outdoors is warm enough to germinate pumpkin seeds the tomatoes can then go out into the garden.

The garden this month has been producing an abundance of rocket, lettuce, spring onion, and glorious new growth on the sage and coriander. There has also been spinach, kale, and bok choy as well as broccoli. The bok choy and rocket both ran to flower when we were a way for a few days. I have left the bok choy for the bees to enjoy and the rocket has now been cut back hard for a new flush of growth to come through.  The tarragon has returned to life and the fruit tress are all in blossom. The apricot already has tiny fruit developing. All is all it is a joy to walk around outside in the sunshine to see what is popping up and what has doubled in height since the last time we looked around. I love this time of year.

garden pots of herbs

Bok Choy

Broccoli (1 of 1)-2

How is your garden growing this month? Which seeds are you planting? 

Next month’s Garden Share Collective theme is Design. See you then and in the meantime if you are yet to get your seeds started make some time in the family diary to do it this weekend.


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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Gillian September 28, 2015, 9:04 am

    I should have my post up and running tommorrow. Living in the tropics summer is often a very challenging time to grow veggies, but reading about everyone else starting off new seeds has me inspried.

  • Jan September 28, 2015, 10:36 am

    I’m trying to grow all my summer vegetable from seed this year, here’s hoping they all germinate. I wish I had known that rocket would regrow if I cut it back, I pulled all mine out when it flowered.

  • e / dig in hobart September 28, 2015, 1:44 pm

    some things I do from seed – peas and beans – but other, bigger plants i’m more confident using seedlings, either from the i’m not as well set up as dad is.

  • Melissa September 28, 2015, 4:18 pm

    I’m unfortunately one of those who prefer seedlings over seeds. Maybe it’s because I haven’t much success with seeds purchased from the major seed suppliers at hardware stores. Diggers have certainly changed that for me though. I’ve never heard of Birdland before and will bookmark to make a purchase in the future.

  • Jill September 28, 2015, 8:08 pm

    Your comments about unsuccessful germination resonated with me this month, a lot of my post is about my poor results, thanks for the link to Birdland and your experience with their seed quality, have a great month.:)

  • Kate September 29, 2015, 9:07 pm

    Poor germination rates are such a problem and turn many people off growing plants from seed. But them, much of the seed sold commercially in Australia is sourced from the EU where the climate is not like ours. It sounds like your source of seed is a breath of fresh air.

  • Becs :: Think Big Live Simply September 30, 2015, 8:35 am

    I have had such disappointing germination with certain (very popular heirloom) brands before – I found out how some of the seeds were sourced and then it made sense! And, gosh I love your potted garden!

  • Lizzie {Strayed Table} October 1, 2015, 10:13 am

    Growing from seed, you can definitely get the variety up in the garden especially when acquiring heirloom and old seed stock. I have had such terrible germination problems from seed that has come from cooler places as the sub-tropics can be touch and go at times with weather. For me I rely on surrounding farmers and local seed producers and once you find them the doors to growing possibilities opens up wide.

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