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Fear of Seeds

Report From An Opinionated Gardener – May 19

Last weekend I put together a display at the garden center that encouraged people not to be afraid of seeds. It’s astonishing how many come in looking for six-pack of carrot or bean plants. “Those are better grown from seed,” I always advise, and the customer usually backs away, looking as if I’d advised adding rat poison to their morning coffee.

I understand that seeds aren’t necessarily easy. Some require light for germination, while others need dark. A number of seeds have to go through a cold period in order to sprout. All newly emerging seedlings need to be kept moist enough, but not too wet, and these requirements might interfere with a busy schedule.

All of that aside, there are good reasons to try growing plants from seed. For the price of one six-pack of plants you can have dozens, and it’s possible to grow unusual varieties that aren’t available in flats.

There are many times in life when we’re prone to choosing the sure thing over another option that might be more practical, less expensive or more expansive. What keeps us from going with the slightly more risky alternative that has a bigger payoff? I’d guess that it’s usually fear.

Don’t be afraid: once in awhile it’s very liberating to take a chance and put some seeds in the ground.

5 Responses to “Fear of Seeds”

  1. 1
    Sara K:

    I’m glad your encouraging people on the seeds. So many nurseries I’ve been to don’t stock them at all or barely stock them. Really a shame!

  2. 2
    CL Fornari:

    Right you are, Sara. A bad cycle is set up because people are shy of seeds so they don’t buy them, then the garden center thinks it’s not worth stocking them. Sad.

  3. 3

    I have a 4 shelf greenhouse that I set up this yr. I started some annuals on May 16th (hoping this is not to late) the weather has been cold her in the Chicago area. I started Cosmos, Flax, Malva, & Zinnia. To be honest I really don’t know what I am doing with seeds, but I am trying. I guess I’d like to know when is the best time to start perennials and annuals. My seeds are sprouting right now in the little bio-degradable pots I bought. Will I be able to plant them this yr? I really love your website & and all of your postings. Thank you.

  4. 4

    I’ve been planting big seeds for years–pumpkins, beans, sunflowers, etc. but little seeds have proved to be more of a challenge. I don’t start indoor plants (not enough time) so the 2 issues I’ve faced are: seeds not germinating and not being able to distinguish the seeds from the weeds. Not buying cheap seeds has helped with the first issue and planting in rows makes it pretty easy to distinguish the good stuff from the bad, but I like flowers in puddles, so I’m still perplexed as to how to make this work. (I have really great soil, so any barren soil becomes covered with weeds no matter how carefully I prep an area before hand.)Any ideas?

  5. 5
    CL Fornari:

    I like flowers in puddles too. You might try either of the following: 1. Start the flowers in flats of seed starting mix outdoors. Once they are up and have two sets of leaves, transplant them to the garden in the puddles. or 2. Create a puddle in the garden using seed starting mix that is an inch or two deep. Sort a flat without sides or a bottom, made directly in the ground. This would cover the weed seeds and greatly slow the germination of weeds, allowing for you to see the newly emerging flower seedlings clearly. They would get a head start and you could then mulch around them to further deter weeds as they grow. In the fall the seed starting soil would get mixed into the general soil when you pull the old annuals out, if you’re growing annuals.