This is your guide to using seeds vs. transplants.

Now, I personally recommend seeds for a number of reasons, which you’ll see shortly.

But, there are times when using transplants is a benefit. Which I’ll go over as well.

Let’s jump in!

Transplants are weaker than seedling grown plants.

Think of moving all across the country and how much goes into that. Packing things up, moving, getting into a new house, finding a new social network etc.

That’s what it’s like for a plant that is transplanted.

It’s got a nice source of minerals, fertilizer, water and kept in perfect climate. Then all of a sudden, it’s in your garden beds, experiencing 80 degrees during the day, down to 45 degrees at night.

Plus the wind, rain and sun. Very stressful for the plant.

When you plant seeds, they’re growing up where they’re going to live their entire lives.

They don’t have their roots disturbed. And they don’t suffer big temperature swings, or switches in sun exposure.

Transplants are going to COST more.

Let’s say you spend $2 for a pack of 50 seeds. That’s four cents per seed.

If only half of those seeds grow, you paid 8 cents per plant.

To get a six pack of transplants, you’re looking a $3.50 for 6. 0.58 cents per plant.

Say you want to do 20 cabbages, you’re looking at 25 transplants. That will cost you $14.

With seeds, you’d be looking at about $1 to get the same yield

This ties into the previous point.

Due to the cost of seeds, you don’t have to feel guilty trimming out your weak plants.

You can plant your seeds a little thicker, select the best ones, and pull the weaker ones.

Now, another thing to keep in mind is some plants, transplant MUCH better than others.

Tomatoes, kale, cabbages, and peppers are great for transplants.

But, stay away from melons, beans and corn.

They tend to get stunted when you transplant them.

They have a very short period of time when they grow fast. And once their roots are disrupted, they’re done for the reason.

The obvious advantage to transplanting is time.

You skip all that grow time.

But…

You don’t gain as much as you think.

They’ve got to adjust to soil conditions. Too much sun,  they’ve lost some of their roots. The plant feels terrible.

I’ve actually had seedlings outgrow transplants over the season.

Alright, I’ve ragged on transplants.

But there are a few conditions where I agree that it makes sense.

I even do it myself.

First off, if you’ve planned poorly like I have in the past, and are planting late. Then something is better than nothing.

Or, if you live somewhere that has a short growing season. Then by all means… Transplant.

I’ll actually use transplants myself under two conditions.

One, if it’s a rare plant, and I’m not sure about the germination rate. I’ll go through the process of transplanting.

Two, if it’s a pain to grow.

I grow tobacco, and the seeds are so small, they’re practically dust.

If you sprinkle them and they dry out, they die.

If they don’t have enough sun, they die.

Due to how sensitive they are, I’ll start these in a transplant tray and transfer them over.

Which brings me to my last point.

If you are going to transplant. I suggest learning to do it yourself.

And to do so, you need to know the process called hardening off. This is a major pain, but you have to do it.

Because if you start your plant inside, with controlled temperatures and ‘weather’ conditions, your plant will go into shock when it’s left outside for the first time.

So you have to gradually introduce it to the outdoors.

Here’s what that looks like…

Day 1: 1 hour

Day 2: 2 hours

Day 3: 3 hours

And so on, until you hit day 7.

At that point, they’ve properly acclimated, and are ready to be transplanted.

It’s a pain, but you have to do it. Otherwise they’ll die.

Now, you may have noticed…

I’m big on just growing right in the garden.

You have a massive variety available to you in seed form, that you won’t get as a transplant.

One last benefit to growing from seed is, you can experiment and find the best ones for YOUR garden.

If you’re using an heirloom variety, you can save the seeds that performed better.

Over multiple generations, you will get the happiest plants that grow best in your garden.  

You can do this from transplants, but you’ve got to start from seed, year after year.

And that’s it from me on this topic.

I think I’ve made my stance pretty clear.

Use seeds unless you absolutely have to transplant!

Thanks, and until next time, may our thumbs always be green.

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