Quality seeds and plants are important to have a successful garden. However, if you aren’t careful, the expense of those seeds and plants can become quite high. There are several tips and things that you can do to make the best use of your seeds and plants. This includes even saving a few seeds for next year.
When you’re buying seeds, there are several things to think about. First, you can buy a package of seeds that matches the size of the space you want to plant. But, often seeds packets have more seeds than you care to plant at one time, or in a given year. One thing that you can do is to find a friend, neighbor, or relative that you can split seed packets with. Then, you’ll only have half of that expense.
Another option is to use only the seeds you need, and then store them in a cool, dry location – usually in a plastic bag. Or, you can store them in a refrigerator or freezer to keep the seeds fresh for next year. Most seeds will be viable for two or three seasons, and then you only have to buy seeds occasionally.
Another way to make the most efficient use of your seeds is that when you’re planting (and it’s a challenge with small seeds) to try your best to plant the seeds at the appropriate spacing. Then, you’re only going to use the seeds you need, instead of planting a whole seed packet and thinning the plants, and then losing half of what you paid for.
If you’re going to be planting transplants in your garden – usually tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc. – then you should understand that if you’ve never grown plants from seed before, it can be a challenge to do. However, it can be cheaper once you get used to it. But, there is an initial investment in the materials needed to start your own plants from seed.
So, if you’re only going to use a few plants, it may be cheaper to buy them from a nursery or a garden center. If you’re going to need lots of plants, it’s easily going to be less expensive to grow them yourself – once you’ve made that initial investment. There is also the investment of time involved, which is another consideration.
Sometimes you need to use transplants such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. However, with other plants such as beans, corn, cantaloupe, watermelon, and squash, you’ll find that it’s cheaper and easier to buy the seeds, and plant the seeds directly in your garden. So, that’s another good way to save money on those plants.
When you’re buying transplants, you’ve already made that investment in buying a good quality plant, so you should make sure that you get the best bang for your buck by planting them at the appropriate spacing. That involves knowing the size of your garden space, and how many plants you need before you go to the garden center or nursery.
There’s no reason to buy ten tomato plants if the space you have only allows you to plant six tomato plants. So, you’ll need to be careful and measure your garden area so that you know exactly how many plants you can fit in, and then use the appropriate spacing. Don’t crowd them together, or spread them too far apart. That way, you’ll get the maximum yield out of your garden space.
This feature story prepared with Rebecca McMahon, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Sedgwick County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.