Monday, February 16, 2009
Why Start Seeds?
After reading my post on growing celery and having to start and grow the seeds indoors for 3 months before planting outside, hubby already started complaining about running the lights and the costs. So I thought this would be the perfect time to do a little explaining as to why I start plants from seeds. Many years ago, I went seed-starting crazy with mostly flowers (I was growing, drying, and creating crafts with dried flowers and herbs for a side business), and had 8 sets of shop-light fixtures running for about 2 months solid - 16 hours a day. Our electric bills shot up $25 bucks a month that year. That's why Rick is complaining now. But, after explaining to him this year's plants will only need two sets of lights going, he seemed to settle down a bit. Why grow from seed? Well, have you ever seen a celery plant at the nursery? Have you ever seen Serrano pepper plants to buy? That's reason number one -- many of the plant varieties I grow are not available at nurseries. I used to make and can salsa and my secret was multiple medium-hot pepper varieties; many of which were not available at the nurseries. The only heirloom tomato I've ever seen was Brandywine. And I can't live without Purple Ruffles Basil which sometimes is at larger urban nurseries, but seldom (its tempermental to grow and commercial growers can't give the TLC purple basil needs). And there's my 2nd reason -- I don't have a decent nursery here in Northern Dauphin, rural county PA. We have a spattering of Amish greenhouses and of course the Farmer's Market has some vegetable seedling plants, but they are almost always the basic varieties and plants -- Beefsteak Tomatoes and California Wonder Peppers. B.O.R.I.N.G. Not to mention, the seeds were likely grown commercially and came from Monsanto (they hold 70% of the tomato seed market), and of course they aren't organic. ( Although I'm not so much a stickler for organic seed since I'm not a certified organic grower. But I AM a fuss-head as to where the seeds come from). Reason number 3 - knowing where the seed comes from is major for me. If I can help it, I cannot and will not support commercially grown seed companies that produce "monster" seeds and crops - I.e., GMO or genetically modified seeds. I cringe when I have to buy produce -- even the local stuff may have been raised from GMO seed companies. Reason #4: Is there a cost savings? If you look at it from the cradle (seed) to grave (preserving) perspective, yes. If I were to buy organic produce all year, I'd be broke. But because I grow the majority of my produce, yes, there's a cost savings but I haven't really figured it out. The lights DO cost about $6 a month for 3 months, so there's $18 bucks in lighting alone (not to mention the initial cost of purchasing the equipment). My seeds and supplies ran me $60 bucks this year (that's potatoes, onions, 100 strawberry plants AND the seeds too). But its definitely still cheaper than buying organic produce. Come to think of it, I have YET to see organic strawberries - I'll bet they are an arm and leg in cost. And the final part of starting seeds is the fun and challenge of it. There's not a whole lot going on in late winter, so why not get your hands a little dirty in some seed starter. And when that first sprout breaks ground, oo-la-la.. what a sight to behold and do a dance over. Us gardener-types get pretty darn excited and start dancing a jig when we see new green life that we helped start. It will never cease to amaze me at how a tiny, tiny little speck of seed produces such bounty. I guess that's the blessing, huh? So there are my reasons: 1) choice of varieties of plants, 2) no local nursery to get those varieties, and 3) knowing where the seed comes from (or NOT comes from) 4) overall cost savings, and 5) something to do in the winter. Is it time for you to get your hands dirty?