You can plant a garden using seeds and plant, and both have their advantages.
Catalogs and local retailers sell plants in potted or bare root form. Both give instant results with no need to guess about when, and if, seeds, are going to germinate.
Plants are the best and only choice for growing fruits and roses. Asparagus, shrubbery and trees can be started from seeds but very few gardeners bother to do it because of the time required for growth.
Most everyone buys plants instead of seeds where tomato, pepper and eggplant are concerned. You could sow seeds directly in garden soil but that will delay the harvest season by a month or more.
To have fresh lettuce on your dinner table as soon as possible, you can set out lettuce plants sold in plastic six packs. Sowing lettuce seeds at the same time will extend your harvest period.
Seeds take from four to 21 days to germinate and produce a seedling. When you watch a tiny seed sprout and grow into a mature flower or vegetable plant, you get a greater sense of accomplishment and pride than you get from setting out plants.
Starting from seeds is the only way to go if you want zinnia, cosmos, sunflower and other flowers that grow best from seeds sown directly in garden soil. For a garden full of impatiens, geranium and petunia you are better off sowing the seeds in pots and trays to transplant later or buying bedding plants.
Most vegetables and herbs grow well from either plants or seeds. The fact is choosing to plant potted spinach, dill or most other garden edibles instead of seeds is a huge waste of money.
It takes a whole bed or row of spinach plants if your goal is to eat spinach salads on a regular basis. That is prohibitively expensive when potted spinach plants sell for $3.49.
Seeds always provide the best value for gardeners. They are one tenth the price of plants — or even less.
You have the widest possible choices when sowing seeds. Catalogs carry seeds for hundreds of tomato varieties while a store may have only 10 varieties of tomato plants available.
Seeds also offer the greatest selection of flowers and herbs. Many of the best varieties are sold only as seeds, and none of the new 2020 introductions will be available as plants.
Planting disease resistant varieties in your garden always is recommended to reduce the need for pesticides and prolong the blooming and harvest season. Most of them are sold as seeds rather than plants.
Some seed packets are marked as organic. They are popular among gardeners concerned about synthetic chemicals used on the farms that produce seeds for sale.
There were no stores selling flower and vegetable plants generations ago. Seeds have timeless appeal, and they represent a link with the past and a simpler way of life.
Weed Watch: The tiny white flowers in your yard are hairy bittercress.
Don Davis is a retired Virginia Cooperative Extension agent. He can be reached at email@example.com.