When I started to garden, I bought plants. I even bought them from White Flower Farm, which charges you three times more than what the plant would cost if you bought it locally, plus shipping. In the early days, spending a couple of hundred dollars on plants seemed exorbitant, but one soon learns that two- to three-hundred-dollars worth of plants only goes so far. Soon, the amount of money you’re spending can skyrocket. You’re doing really well if you are spending just a couple of hundred dollars each season.
If you are childless and have a solid job, this lifestyle may be tenable. For me, as my family has grown, so has its demands upon our household income; the cold-hardy reality of budgeting has set in. For me, It is now a necessity to grow the majority of my plants from seed.
Starting plants from seed is considered by many gardeners online to be the purview of the experts, and there may be some truth in that, especially if you are drawn to rare or expensive plants. But I’ve become convinced that growing your own plants from seed is the only way one can achieve a great garden. Once when I was talking to a notable garden designer about her garden, she indicated that all of her rarities and interesting introductions grown from seed were a product of necessity as much as passion. To buy plants in the quantities she needed would have cost a fortune. I guess even nationally famous garden designers who’ve written many successful gardening books must make do with modest salaries, but their gardens speak for themselves.
Growing from seed is less expensive, but still has its costs. And, plants that are patented, or grafted, or whose seed is very difficult to propagate or source still must be purchased as plants. Also, the cost of growing materials is not insignificant, but the amount of plants you get more than makes up for that investment. I’ve made do without a greenhouse or cold frame (so far), thanks to wintersowing in milk jugs, and there are many plants that take off with direct sowing. Of course, there is the question of time, and that is the trade off. As a gardener, you must learn to wait for anywhere between two and five years to get a perennial, bulb, or woody plant ready to plant out in the garden, and that is a significant investment of your time and often space. But I think by engaging in plants from their beginnings gives you a better sense of what the plant needs and how it grows. Hence, the best gardeners are the seedy types.
In this light, I would encourage you to follow #seedchat tonight as it is the 3rd annual seed swap! Get sowing!