Planning Your Veggie Garden: Start from Seed or Seedling?

Learn what to consider when making this important early step in planning your vegetable growing.
Tomato Seedlings in Peat Pots

Tomato Seedlings

Starting tomato seedlings in peat pots minimizes transplant shock because you plant both the seedling and pot.

Photo by: Gardener’s Supply Co. at

Gardener’s Supply Co. at

Once you’ve figured out which veggies you want to plant, you’ll have to determine when to get started. In large part this will depend on whether you plan to start from seed indoors, sow seeds directly in the ground, or start from seedlings purchased at a nursery.

Consider the following:

  • How long is your growing season? Some plants need several months to mature. If you live in an area that doesn’t really warm up until May or June, you won’t have a long enough growing season to grow slow-maturing plants like tomatoes if you sow the seeds directly.
  • Does the vegetable transplant well? Some veggies, like peppers and broccoli, can be easily moved from inside your house to the ground – but others, like carrots, peas, and lettuce do not withstand transplanting well, so seeds are generally directly sowed into the ground.

If the veggies you want to grow transplant well and need a longer growing season than your climate provides, you’ll want to either start your seeds indoors or purchase seedlings to plant.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Starting from seed is the more economical option, and seed catalogs offer a dizzying array of options. However, starting from seed requires an investment of time and supplies (like adequate lighting) to ensure healthy plants. Plus, you’ll need to get started soon.
  • Purchasing seedlings from a nursery is an easier option, and you’ll be able to pick and choose healthy plants and then put them in the ground soon after. But buying plants is more expensive, and you’ll have fewer options than if you started your own seeds.
  • And some plants don’t start from seed at all, but are grown from roots. This article explains how to plant bare-root vegetables including asparagus and rhubarb. 

Sowing Seeds Directly

If the veggies you want to grow have a short enough growing period for your climate and don’t transplant well, sowing seeds directly into the ground is your best bet. Some vegetables grow very quickly – just 30 days from seed to table. 

Start thinking about which option or options make the most sense for your garden. Remember that the easier you make your first gardening experience, the more likely you are to stick with it later. Keep it simple!

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