grow you own or buy transplants?

jodikayAugust 7, 2012

I have been reading the Guide to MN Vegetable Gardening, plus I get the magazine for northern gardeners, and they both talk about the different kinds of beets, corn, cukes, eggplants and etc, etc that one can plant. However, when I go to my local garden center, I am presented with limited choices and they are the same choices year after year. So, I wonder, do you shop around to find what you are looking for or, do you start your own seeds?

I have limited space for seed starting and I am not looking to plant 30 cabbages, for instance. But, would like to try new vegetables. I am familiar with Burpee and NK but have noticed Seed Savers as an option and have checked out there website.

So I am considering growing my own transplants on a very low scale but just not sure how feasible it would be. Any insight on what you do is appreciated. If you do do it, is there a resource you could point me to to get me started?



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You have asked some big questions. I will offer some comments in detail at some future date regarding growing your own transplants if no one else responds. In the meantime I suggest you familiarize yourself with several forums on GardenWeb that relate to your questions:

Rate and Review Vendors Forum Find reputable seed sellers here.

Growing from Seed Forum

Growing Under Lights Forum

Use the GW site search box towards the bottom of any page to search the various forums for threads related to your query. This is a very important asset on GW.

Also use internet search engine using keywords such as "starting vegetable seeds" and research the results.


Internet search using keywords such as "vegetable seeds" or "seed catalogs" and check out some of the results. If you find a company that interests you see if there are any serious negatives posted for that company in the rate and review forums on GardenWeb or Daves Garden.

Get on catalog mailing lists of seed companies. Each year I get catalogs from around 25-30 different vendors. I order seed from five to eight different catalogs each year using snail mail, or use those catalogs to shop and then make my purchase from those companies online. I have my favorite companies that I trust, and will list them if you want me to. Some of the companies I have ordered from for fifteen, twenty years or more. All have their positives and negatives, but all are reputable.

I will get back to this thread at a future date after you have had time to check out the various research paths I have offered.


BTW you can often find wonderful transplants of unusual, uncommon, or heirloom vegetable varieties for sale at your local farmer's market in springtime.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 11:13PM
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I do a combination of both. I start seeds for unusual things that I would have a hard time finding locally, like certain varieties of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, broccoli, etc. I purchase more common things like herbs and maybe the occasional pepper plant.

Seed starting is pretty straightforward. What I basically do is featured in the link below. He also has a book called "You Bet Your Tomatoes" that I've found helpful. I'll also add that the top of the refrigerator is a good place to germinate seeds, using the plastic containers from a rotisserie chicken as a greenhouse. I also have a little fan that keeps that air moving around my new seedlings.

I usually buy seeds online. There is a much bigger variety. I mostly buy from Pinetree Seeds, Diane's Seeds, and Renee's Garden along with some of the bigger places. They cater to the home gardener so you get a smaller amount of seeds with reasonable shipping. I even bought squash seeds on eBay.

Gardening is a lot of trial and error. Every year I learn something. Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Seed starting

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 10:49AM
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I forgot to add that the U of M extension is also a good resource. I follow this schedule.

Here is a link that might be useful: Starting Seed Indoors

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 10:51AM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

I start tomatoes and peppers inside for that very reason. The seeds I have come from seed trades, free tomato seeds for, and ones sold online or occasionally locally. I have also gotten starter plants of unusual cucks, melons, tomatoes, and peppers at the spring MN GW plant swap.

For starting inside I use plastic containers from Costco salad greens which hold about 6 small containers, 4 inch sq. pots or recycled paper or styrofoam cups with 2-3 seeds per variety/cup. After the seeds germinate upstairs where it is warmer I grow them on in the basement under a florescent shop light. With just two of us I don't need many plants of each variety so it doesn't take up much room and little effort, mostly watering and turning containers. Though I had never had a problem I tried the fan one year and found it dried out my pots too quickly. To help make stems stronger I brush my hand against the young seedlings when I move or water them. As the plants grow repot them to next size pot or plant them outside.

All and all it fairly easy to start my own seeds and the only problem I have is deciding which and how many heirloom tomatoes to sow each year.

I don't start cucks inside. If I don't get any from swaps I plant the seeds directly in the garden in the late spring--doesn't take long to germinate. Also like to try unusual pole and bush bean seeds.

While I have wintersown tomatoes successfully I prefer to start them inside.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 2:10AM
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I allow my tomatoes to self-seed, and transplant those seedlings... having some bad luck with transplants of late... including mislabeling. This year, my eggplant from seed was faster growing than the transplant.

My dad bought some seeds at Walmart this year, and they had mostly poor germination.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 10:11PM
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spacetogrow(4 MN)

After several years of starting my own seeds, I tried something similar to nctomatoman's germination method, which I appreciate.

I had previously learned from hard experience that sphagnum MOSS (preferably milled - but not sphagnum PEAT) helps prevent the dreaded damping-off disease. I use regular seed starting mix except I save the top half inch or so for the sphagnum moss because damping-off is mostly a problem at the soil line.

I also had to learn why MiracleGro Seed Starter has a bad reputation on gardening forums. It got so dense as soon as it got wetted down that my usual germination rate dropped like a rock until I changed seed starters.

I'll repeat the recommendation that you label everything carefully. Oh, what a pain to put in the time and bother only to have your memory flake out on you!

Here is a link that might be useful: One of nctomatoman's germination videos

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 12:16AM
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I have a couple of comments on the "30 cabbages" concern.

Seeds, whether they are purchased commercially, collected, or traded, last at least a couple of years. Actually many seeds last several years if you store them carefully, so you don't need to plant the entire packet. I usually start a lot more than I need of most plants, then share the extras with neighbors and friends. That way, if my tomatoes don't make it, I can ask how theirs are doing. And if they have extras, they are obligated to share because the plant came from me ;)

If you buy a packet of seeds, you can easily split and trade it, and only keep the number of seeds you'll need for a year or two, if you're concerned about the germination rate for older seeds. There are round robin trades just for this purpose.

Winter sowing is an option for some seeds, which saves your indoor seed starting space.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 8:03PM
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