Seeds are the obvious choice if you want a flower or vegetable garden. They have many advantages.

Selection is the main reason to plant seeds. You have a vastly greater selection to choose from if you plant seeds instead of potted plants.

Your local store may have a dozen kinds of tomato plants available. If you grow your own tomato plants from seeds, you can choose from the hundreds of different kinds found in various seed catalogs and stores.

Anything out of the ordinary must be grown from seed. You are not likely to find any rare, unusual or new flowers and vegetables except in the form of seeds.

New super-nutritious vegetables with elevated nutrient levels are only sold as seeds. Some examples are lycopene-rich Health Kick tomato and Ingot carrot with double the usual carotene levels.

Certain herbs and vegetables grow best when you sow their seeds directly in garden soil rather than set out transplants. They include crops like okra, peas, beans, spinach, arugula, mesclun, radish, dill, cilantro, basil, and members of the cucurbit family such as pumpkin, squash, cucumber and melon.

The only way to grow spinach is by sowing seeds. Stores sell potted spinach plants for $3 each, making the crop more expensive than necessary when you can buy 2,500 seeds for $3 from a catalog.

The same is true of many flowers. Annuals like cosmos, sunflower, zinnia, poppy, sweet pea, larkspur and bells of Ireland grow best when you sow seeds directly in prepared garden soil in a bed or container.

Grass seed is the best option if you want to plant a lawn, save money and have some choice in the particular varieties of grass you are going to grow. Sod is the other option for new lawns and it includes a network of plastic netting that stays in your soil forever.

You can order individual plants for starting a wildflower meadow and plant them 12 inches apart. An easier and less expensive way to do it is to sow a mixture of wildflower seeds over the area and let the plants spread.

Seeds are a link with the past. Our ancestors saved seeds from one year to the next and some of them became popular enough to be preserved as heirloom seeds, now widely sold in stores and catalogs.

Planting seeds can prevent plant diseases. Many diseases exist on live plants while very few are found on seeds.

Seeds offer the promise of diversity. You can obtain a wide range of characteristics in a population of plants grown from open-pollinated or non-hybrid seeds.

You get a sense of accomplishment when planting seeds. Watching the seedlings emerge from the soil and mature into plants with potential for fresh food and a yard full of color is both thrilling and satisfying.

Seeds are embryonic plants needing only moisture, air and warmth to germinate and produce seedlings. They contain the genetic information necessary to produce the plants you want.

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