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To get the most bang for your gardening buck, start with seeds. Why? A pack of seeds costs approximately $3 for anywhere from 25-100 seeds, while transplants run about $3 for 4 plants. You do that math. Well, there are a few more factors to figure in to your total seed starting costs, but seeds still come out ahead (I’ll show you below).
To start your garden seeds, you need soil and something to put it in. The most common thing to use are trays just like you buy your transplants in from a greenhouse. You can buy the trays at just about any home and garden store, or you can order them online. If you’d like to buy them in bulk and save more money, I’ve used FarmTek before with no complaints.
You will want a tray and a sheet of inserts for each tray. The inserts vary in size, but I would recommend using a bigger cell for good root formation. This means you want a lower total plant number (48 vs 72) insert.
For soil, I do not recommend the soil-less stuff that is everywhere. Unless you want to worry about fertilizing your plants. I never do, so I had stinky results using the stuff. Last year, we tried Natural Beginnings Seed-Starting Mix from Garden’s Alive. I will be using this from now on. In all the years we have started seeds, our seedlings have never been as big and healthy as they were last year. (By the way, this is not an ad, I just love this stuff and know you will, too)
This soil is more pricey than the standard soil-less stuff, but it is so worth it. One bag did 5 trays. When I added up the cost of the soil, seeds, and trays, it figured out to about $7-$9 per tray depending on the seeds. Remember each tray held around 48 plants, which gave me a per plant cost of 15 to 19 CENTS.
If you grow open-pollinated varieties and save your seeds, you can reduce or even eliminate this cost factor in following years. Save your trays and inserts for a few years, and all you have is the cost of soil. Do you see why I recommend heirloom seeds?
Once you have your supplies, the process is easy. Fill your inserts with soil, plant your seeds, and keep the trays moist and in the sunlight. That’s it. I should mention that some seeds germinate best out of direct sunlight, your seed packets will tell you this. They will also tell you when you need to start the seeds, generally 4-8 weeks before you intend to plant them outside.
I highly recommend open-pollinated heirloom seeds. These can be hard to come by, as most stores do not carry a wide selection of these. I’ve compiled a list of sources to share with you. If you know of a source that is not mentioned here, please share it with us in the comment section!
Places I’ve ordered from and can personally recommend:
Places I’ve not ordered from, but others recommend:
- Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
- Bulk Herb Store
- Botanical Interest
- Comstock Ferre & Co.
- D. Landereth Seed Company
- High Mowing Organic Seeds
- Sow True Seed
- Victory Seeds
- Heritage Harvest Seeds
- Annie’s Heirloom Seeds
- Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Happy gardening! Next week we will talk about recipes you can grow (or mostly grow).
I will be linking this post up with the Better Mom Monday link-up at The Better Mom, Living Green Tuesdays at Like a Mustard Seed, Encourage One Another at Deep Roots at Home, Wellness Wednesday at Intoxicated on Life, Proverbs 31 Thursdays at Raising Mighty Arrows, and Hearts at Home at Upside Down Homeschooling –> Be sure to check out these link-ups for more great posts!