I’ve been successfully growing things for the past 4 years. I started with basic culinary herbs like basil, parsley, dill, cilantro, sage and then added in tomatoes and this year will be the first time I plant a full garden.
You can go about gardening a couple different ways. One is to buy seedlings, or tiny baby plants, from a nursery, farmer’s market, or as a last resort someplace like Lowe’s. My problem with this is threefold: 1) you can’t guarantee you aren’t getting a hybrid 2) you can’t guarantee it’s non-GMO 3) it may or may not have been grown organically.
That may raise some questions for you so I’ll define what I mean by organic and non-GMO. Organic gardening is done without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. For all intents and purposes, I define GMO (genetically modified organisms) as artificially altering the genetic structure of a plant that would not normally occur on its own in nature. For example, strawberries and tomatoes injected with fish DNA to prevent their fruit from being susceptible to freezing temperatures. See link here for more examples.
If you aren’t able to get the plants from a reliable source, then the logical thing would be to start it from seed yourself. I have tried both methods of growing and buying seedlings is fine except for when it comes to saving your seeds for the next year’s planting. The issue there lies in not being able to guarantee the plant is an heirloom, meaning the plant’s offspring will be identical to the parent plant. That makes it difficult when you are planning your garden to know what to expect when it’s time to harvest.
Also, not only is it economically sound to save your own seeds, it is more self-sufficient, which is a goal of mine. The less I have to depend on others for what I need, the less money I spend and that money can go into other things my family needs like savings or debt payment. Or, assuming you have no debt, it can go toward fun things like entertainment, concerts, food at restaurants, etc.
My go-to seed company has been Heirloom Seeds. Their plants produce seeds that turn out identical to the parent plant and I have never had issues with seed viability. They’re pretty affordable, but the downside of ordering from a small company is the time it takes to have your order processed and shipped to you. I suggest ordering as early as December or January for that year. I made an order the first week in February two years ago and my seeds didn’t arrive in time for my planting schedule to align with the weather. That resulted in a late and small crop of tomatoes that year.
This year, I discovered MIgardener
out of St. Clair, Michigan. They have a selection of seeds available on their online store for just 99 cents per packet. Which is outrageously cheap for seeds, especially compared to larger companies like Burpee. You won’t find as many varieties with the smaller companies, but you will get plants that are true to form and viable. I don’t have anything against the larger companies, but when I can, I prefer to support the “little guy” and small family-owned or local businesses.
So, my final word on seeds is this:
1) Know what you’re getting
2) When in doubt, do it yourself
3) save your own seeds