Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Audio Play Icon Headphones Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon
Design

Seed Starters Make the Best Friends | Letter from the Editor

Fine Gardening – Issue 191

Myths and fairy tales are often grounded in reality, so when I hear the story of Jack swapping the family cow for a couple of magic beans, it rings true. To me, that was a good deal, even without knowing about the golden eggs or the giant. Every year I trade around $2 for a packet of seeds in the hopes that I will get dozens of plants from them. Were that to be the case, it would be an excellent return on my investment. One full-grown plant is worth far more than $2. I would be crazy not to buy the seed packet.

Growing plants from seed is relatively cheap, pretty easy, and very fun—and that is the problem. The hardest thing is to not go overboard. At a time—late winter—when we gardeners are vulnerable to beginning projects, we are itching to put our energy into growing something. So we start seeds. Peat pots, lettuce containers, old yogurt cups, eggshell—anything that can hold dirt and drain water is commandeered to cradle an infant plant while it sizes up before it can be put into the garden. Soon that one Sunday afternoon you spent scooping soil and dropping in seeds has yielded a mini jungle of delicate stems reaching for the light. They stretch, flop, and tangle with each other. Water is a constant need, but they can’t stay wet. They need food, but not too much. This leads me to Steve’s Gardening Rule No. 62: Show me someone who starts seeds and I will show you someone who has way too many seedlings.

The smart gardener is one who is friends with a seed starter, because seed starters tend to off-load many of their seedlings onto someone who promises to take good care of them. Smarter gardeners make a habit of giving seed starters gifts of seed packets of obscure annuals they themselves want to grow but don’t want to start.

This, of course, makes me wonder if the man who gave Jack the magic beans wasn’t interested in the cow after all. He just wanted to be friends with someone who could give him a few extra golden eggs from time to time—and he wouldn’t even need to deal with a giant.

Steve Aitken, editor

 

See some of our articles on starting seeds

The Science of Seed Starting

15 Tips to Make Seed-Starting Easier

All About Starting Seeds

View Comments

Comments

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

Member Exclusives

Fine Gardening All-Access

Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to our entire collection of articles, videos, and plant records.

Start Free Trial

Learn More

The Latest

Magazine Cover

Take your passion for plants to the next level

Subscribe today and save up to 44%

"As a recently identified gardening nut I have tried all the magazines and this one is head and shoulders above the pack."

Video

View All