Growing Seedlings

Ready, set, plant!

| April/May 2004

Container Gardening Essentials 

Containers may be a fallback option for those would-be gardeners who don’t have a garden, but they’re also essential tools for the dirt gardener. Unless a plant grows from seed sown in the ground (or somehow magically appears there as a volunteer) or is transplanted from elsewhere, chances are it started its life in a pot.

Propagation, particularly seed germination, is a subject dear to my heart, so let’s start with a short sales pitch for those who have never tried it. Growing new plants from seeds is satisfying on many levels. The do-it-yourself approach is far less expensive than buying potted herbs from a reputable garden center, with more variety available to you, and you can end up not just with a new plant to try, but with as many as you want and some to trade or give away. Starting with seeds can be surprisingly easy and can produce sturdy little plants that have a better start on life than those spindly herbal specimens at the corner discount store ever got. Your starts won’t have endured the hardships of wilting from neglect, struggling for light or being transported across the country.

A less tangible benefit of seed germination is the wonder of it all. After your careful attention and material support, that moist seed opens up and a cotyledon — the first leaf or pair of leaves to emerge — lifts itself up and reaches for the light. The process might make you feel like a kid again.

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