Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cheap Gardening Series: The Beginning: Seeds & Seedlings

Welcome to my first post of the series and I hope you stick it out with me.

Seeds and seedlings are one of the most important things in a garden because without them, you wouldn't have a garden. These are usually not hard to find and usually not too expensive.

Where to get seeds and/or seedlings:
Seed packets can be found at most big box stores like: Home Depot, Lowe's, Target and Kmart are a great source. If the store has a full garden center, they may have seedlings as well. If you are like me and like to support the local businesses and save some money, the local nurseries are a great choice. There are plant sales at most stores but the local nurseries and college extension programs usually have better prices. Now that the you know where to get them, and the best time to buy them. 

When to buy seeds and / or seedlings?
Depending on the what you are planting, certain seeds like tomatoes or eggplants, need to be started indoors 4-8 weeks before the last frost. Seed catalogs started coming arriving in January for this year. I would follow their lead and start buying up those seeds but not necessarily from these companies. There are many more options if buying via mail but it may not be the cheapest. Besides, a beginner should start off with the basic vegetables.

When buying seedlings / plants, these can be bought in the Spring at the many sales. I have a local nursery that normally sells the seedlings at a fair price, even when not on sale. There will be sales from arboretums, botanical gardens, nurseries and the big box stores.

Cheap / Free Alternatives:
The plant sales are a great place to pick up seedlings and plant start but of course there are other options. I have started seeds from store bought vegetables, and saved seeds from last. Since this series is meant for new gardeners, saved seeds from previous season may not be an option.

You may already have the seeds you need at home inside those uncooked vegetables. It may seem like a daunting task to save seeds from fresh produce but it is usually pretty simple. I know that there are those veggies  out there that do not have seeds that can be harvested, but with a little research, most should be possible. A quick read of my Saving Seeds post should help and an online search will help you get started. If you are reading this, then you should have no issue doing a search on how to save seeds from anything you want.

Another source for seeds or plants may be fellow gardeners. There are things like seed swaps and gardening groups that may be in your local area. A great way to connect with your neighbors is to simply ask if they garden and if they do, they may not only be a great source for advice but also may give away seeds or plants to a new gardener. Most gardeners start up way too many seeds and end up with more than what they need. I know I have seedlings that may need to find another home other than my own. Who knows,  maybe next year you will have leftover seeds and/or plants that you can give or trade with your own neighbors. So get out and meet your neighbors and create a bigger sense of community.

We have come to the end of the first post in our "Cheap Gardening Series" and I you hope learned something new. If there is something that should be added, just drop a comment below and let me know. There is no sense in a single person knowing it all but not sharing it.


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