To Seed or Not to Seed

– Posted in: Seeds and Seed Starting
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I am trying to abstain from seed starting this year. I still haven’t gotten my garden back into shape, and I am loathe to take on the additional time consumption of growing by seed until I feel matters are under control outside, at least, as “under control” as they’ve ever been. Sure, there’s plenty of time to start seeds in the winter, and the temptation is great. Those little bits of green coming out of the potting soil when all is white and cold outside are such a wonder. The garden’s potential for greatness when you are trapped inside is limited only by your imagination, not your available free time or the might of your arm (or back). But come May, there are seedlings to be started (yes, the plant-out-after-all-danger-of-frost-when-the-soil-is-thoroughly-warmed kind), seedlings to be pricked out, seedlings to be potted on, seedlings to be hardened off, and seedlings to be planted in the ground. But wait, there’s more:

April is such an iffy month. In this climate, you never know if the ground will be thawed at the beginning or the end of the month. Can you rake off the debris, and should you? Another cold snap may come rolling in. If the ground is thawed, is it dry enough to work? Often, between melting snowpack and spring (late winter?) precipitation, it is not. Consequently, May is also the time to rake, weed, and edge the beds. This by itself is enough to keep me busy through October. So much for spring chores. But wait, there’s more:

May is also the last month of our homeschooling academic year. That means writing up year-end evaluations as well as the fourth set of quarterly reports. That means means making kids stay inside and work, or, more likely, chasing them down somewhere outside to get them back to work. On top of that, there are three birthdays to shop and arrange the celebrations for. It’s no wonder my stunted, pot-bound seedlings get planted in mid- to late June. It’s a horticultural merry-go-round that I want to get off. I would like to do fewer things in the garden, and do them better.

And yet . . . the siren song of the seed catalogs is hard to resist. I do have three window boxes and an assortment of planters that I have to plant, and growing from seed is so much cheaper than buying plants from the garden center. So, I have to look. And once I look, I will have to circle. And once I circle, I will have to list. And once I list–no, I don’t have to buy. Really, I don’t. But will I?

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In its own way, frost may be one of the most beautiful things to happen in your garden all year . . . Don’t miss it. Like all true beauty, it is fleeting. It will grace your garden for but a short while this morning. . . . For this moment, embrace frost as the beautiful gift that it is.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

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