Shortcuts to Success With Seeds

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Planting can be dirt cheap. Who says you can’t grow money? A study by Burpee Seed Company found just $50 invested in seeds and fertilizer can produce $1,250 worth of groceries each year. Think about this. At the supermarket, a single pound of spinach will set you back $3.83. But for less than a dollar, you could buy seeds and grow up to 6 pounds of spinach. Check out these expert tips to learn how gardening from seed helps you cash in on crops.

“These days, it’s expensive to go out and buy your own transplants,” says consumer horticulturist Robert Westerfield. The little plants you find at the store then transfer to your garden are easy to work with, but Westerfield warns, “You’re paying sometimes a couple of dollars for a plant that you could have produced on your own for a few pennies.”

Start seeds right and watch your savings bloom. “In general, most of the cucurbits — squash, cucumbers, melons, gourds, and pumpkins — are easy to grow by direct seeding,” says Westerfield. “You take the seeds at the proper time of year, plant them in the garden, and blooms are going to sprout and develop into a bearing plant.”

However, solanaceous crops, like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, grow best if you start seeds indoors about six weeks prior to the planting season, then transfer the sprouts to the garden. “Don’t try to direct seed them,” he explains, “because they are very susceptible to temperature changes as well as some soil diseases — things that cause them to fizzle before they ever get to size.”

Go to seed for free. The easiest way to get free seeds is to save some from a previous harvest. For best results, you want true-to-type seeds, or ones that will produce new plants exactly like their “parent.” That means you should avoid gathering seeds from any hybrid plants you may have in your garden.

You can also snag seeds for next to nothing by participating in seed exchanges. Some are free and some require a membership fee. Contact local gardening clubs or organizations, or search online to find programs available in your area.

 

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  • FC&A Staff Writer