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While some plants propagate best if started from a cutting from an established plant, most plants begin life as a seed someone sows and carefully nurtures into a strong and healthy plant. That person may be someone in a large nursery or someone who runs a stand at your local farmer's market. Or it may be you!
Our personal gardens are filled each year with plants that came to us in both in the form of seeds and seedlings. While we hope to, in the near future, build a small greenhouse and begin all of our plants from seed, purchasing some of our plants as seedlings works best at this point in our lives. For some plants such as our beloved tomatoes, which we strive to begin harvesting by July 4th, this decision is driven by the weather. Placing a healthy young plant already having 6-8 weeks of growth time into our garden is far more likely to let us achieve that goal than sowing seeds in the garden where it's difficult to regulate their early-life needs in unpredictable, and often harsh, spring weather conditions.
The decision to purchase some of our other plants as seedlings is based on our need. One or two jalapeno plants produce more than our yearly need of peppers. Planting an entire packet of seeds would create unnecessary work, both in the process of nurturing them in their early life and later chasing down friends and family in attempt to share the bounty of a fruit that doesn't find its way into the cuisine of most people the way something like lettuce or tomatoes does.
We also start many of our plants from seed, both intentionally and accidentally. Since we can green beans and, therefor, need a large harvest and multiple plantings, we start these from seeds. This is typically how green beans are grown, anyway, since they are easy to start and the seedlings are very weather-tolerant. Our melon plants are also started from seed because we grow enough plants that it's more economical than buying seedlings. Sometimes beginning with seeds is the only way we're going to be able to grow a certain plant. I've yet to see a seedling for a Snake Gourd plant or Kohlrabi in a nursery! And we're fortunate that some plants drop seeds to the ground and bless us with flowers in future years with no human intervention in the germination process.
Beginning with seeds is also a process that's very rewarding for children. They enjoy the excitement of the anticipation of a seedling emerging and, later, the pride of harvesting fruit from a plant that exists because of their time and effort. And as adults, we get to enjoy watching them through the various stages of their success. We can help make the wait from sowing to sprouting more exciting and far more interesting to them (and to us as well) through this gardening craft project.
If you've never had the pleasure of starting a plant from seed, I hope you'll grab a packet of flowers or beans and give it a try this year. In the meantime, fully enjoy the ease and instant beauty planting seedlings adds to your gardening experience!