The weather is warm, and our greenhouses are full of plants: it's planting season!

For some gardeners, however, planting season began several weeks ago as the first seeds of the year disappeared into the soil.  If you've never tried growing flowers or produce from seed, the appeal may seem elusive.  Many lawn and garden stores, after all, sell starter plants for any green friend your heart desires.  Why mess around with soil temperatures and seed depths and tiny, vulnerable seedlings?

Pros and Cons

There are benefits to growing plants from seed beyond the satisfaction of being present for every stage of your plants' life cycle.  Seeds are often an economical way for budget-conscious gardeners to fill their beds.  You can also find a wider variety of cultivars available as seeds than as plant starts.  If you can't wait another minute for spring, some seeds can be started inside as early as six weeks before it's safe to have tender young plants outside.

However, sowing seeds isn't for everyone.  Buying a young plant can be a better option if you don't have the time or space to nurture an entire flat of lettuce seedlings.  You may also want to consider buying starter plants if the thought of babysitting delicate seedlings fills you with anxiety.

Some Final Considerations

If you're sold on the idea of sowing your next crop of flowers or veggies from seeds, make sure you do your homework!  Some plants are commonly sown from seed specifically because their roots don't like to be disturbed by transplanting; be sure you plant these seeds where you want the mature plants to stay (or plant them in biodegradable pots that can go straight into the ground).  Seeds also need to be planted at different points in the growing season based on the plants' hardiness.

Luckily, all of this information should be in one place: the seed packet itself.  This paper wealth of information will tell you when to plant your seeds, what kind of sun exposure the plants like, how deep to plant the seeds, and when to thin your seedlings so that your plants have plenty of room to grow.

Priscilla DeFini