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When planting a garden start with seeds. Don’t be afraid it’s easy and fun to plant with seeds. It is also very beneficial for you, the plant’s health, and the planet. Here are 3 enlightening reasons to start with a seed.
The number one reason to start with seed is biodiversity. We hear this word thrown around a ton, but what does it actually mean and why would you care about it when gardening?
The dictionary defines biodiversity as “the variety of life in the world or in a particular habitat or ecosystem.” Yes, but what does that mean for my plants?
In regards specifically to seeds, we are looking for a starting point that is filled with a variety of behaviors and interactions. The more variety the better because the seed can use that variety to adapt to their environment.
A seed is a starting point. How genetically diverse that seed is may say if it survives the changing world or not.
Think of it this way … If a child was created naturally from a mother’s egg and a father’s sperm the combination would create a unique and hopefully adaptable new person who gets the best of each parent’s DNA. In a perfect world, they would be a stronger version of their parents. They would have a variety of genetic behaviors and interactions.
If we took one parent and replicated them or cloned them over and over we would get the exact same version of that parent without all the benefits of the variety. They would be an exact replica nothing new mixed in there.
So what’s the problem with that you ask? Well, it’s great for a Sci Fy movie but not great for biodiversity. If a disease or pest comes along and destroys the parent it is highly likely that the same outcome will happen to the replicated or cloned offspring. You reduce adaptability when you work with cloned or modified seeds, or plants, or kids for that matter.
Mixed genes from two parents have a better chance of being stronger versions of their parents and might adapt and survive better. The female part of the flower is pollinated by the male’s pollen and that makes seeds. Cuttings make clones.
Of course, this is a very simplified way to explain this because there are a million other factors that determine genetics but this gives you an idea.
Seeds have more genetic variation than cloned plants. In nurseries or at the big box stores you find a lot of cloned plants. They come from cuttings of a parent plant which makes them clones. They are the exact same genetic makeup of the parent plant they took the cutting from.
If that parent plant was pollinated and then went to seed and you planted the seed you would have a variety of genetic information. Each seed would be a little different and that is a good thing. That diversity or biodiversity gives the next generation of plants a better chance of survival from a disease, pests, climate change, and so on.
In wild nature, plants adapt to changes in their environment, and those changes, in theory, make each generation stronger.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen with man-made intervention. Many of the plants we grow today rely heavily on man to keep them going because we manipulate the diversity to try and control the outcome of the plants.
GMO plants are plants that are manipulated to get the outcome people desire, like a stronger skin on a tomato, corn that is resistant to certain pesticides, or soybeans manipulated to create more oleic acid. This doesn’t mean they are healthy or genetically superior. In fact, some scientists believe that GMO plants might be a very bad option long term. The debate is heated and the verdict still very much up in the air on this subject. We will have to wait and see what happens with GMOs.
Since we like to follow the laws of nature here at The Plant More Project we are going to go with the concept of natural biodiversity. The idea of plants mixing it up and trying to adapt to the environment with a stronger, better version of themselves. That is done through seeds. Organic or heirloom seeds being the best options.
When you plant from seed it can be hit or miss. Some seeds will be stronger than others. That is ok too. You can plant 100 seeds from the same package and maybe 50 will grow into strong healthy plants.
By the way, if you get 50% of your seed package growing healthy and strong you are kicking butt!
A great way to see how viable (or strong) your seeds are is to take a wet paper towel and place 10 of the same type of seeds from the same package on the wet towel and fold it over. Wait a few days, keeping the paper towel moist but not soaked and see how many seeds sprout.
If 1 out of 10 sprout then you have a 10% viability. Two out of the ten then you have a 20% viability. The higher the better. That is what they mean on the seed package when they say germination rate.
So starting with seed is a great option. This goes for anything you plant from tomatoes to landscape plants. We want to plant from seeds as much as possible. We want to increase biodiversity in all forms of planting because it has powerful impacts on the plants and animals living in the ecosystem. That includes us.
2) Seeds are plants on hold
Seeds are plants waiting to happen. They are in a survival state and magically know when the right time to sprout is. That is pretty incredible.
Seeds are able to stay dormant and survive conditions that the actual plant may die in. How freaking cool is Mama Nature! She figured out a storage concept to keep plants going and pop out when the time is right.
There are three parts to a seed. The seed coat or protective outer layer. The embryo (baby plant), and a food supply to feed the embryo while it germinates. All that information is contained in those tiny little packages. Mind-blowing.
Most seeds will begin germination when they get wet. Some need a certain temperature outside to germinate. Some need to be chewed on by an animal. Seeds know when the time is right.
You can follow planting guides for your zone but it is also fun to plant things at random times of the year and see what happens especially as our climate is shifting and changing. I’ve grown a lot of things out of season.
Storing seeds is a great way to secure our food options. There are a lot of heirloom seed swaps online. You can share the seeds you’ve saved from your crops with others and get new seeds to try for yourself. This is a great way to continue biodiversity and store plants to grow at a later date.
3) You know what you are working with from the start
Starting with seed allows you to follow the process from start to finish. You know you are getting pesticide-free plants when you start from seed because you are following their life cycle. Big box or nursery plants had a long life before they found you so who knows what was sprayed on them.
You don’t need pesticides with healthy plants and healthy plants start with healthy soil. Starting with a deep rich black or brown soil is a good idea.
Remember as you water your plants all those nutrients are taken up by the plant. You will know this is happening because the soil actually starts to change color and gets lighter. When the soil color gets lighter you want to give it more nutrients in the form of additional organic soil, compost, fish emulsion, or worm castings. It is best to stay away from the chemical fertilizers for you and the plant.
Starting with heirloom, organic, or Non-GMO seeds is the best place to begin. Use a nice compost or organic potting soil for good drainage and nutrients. Stay away from the chemical potting soil and things that say they push the growth of your plants. You don’t want to push or stimulate the growth of your plants. You want them to grow as they would naturally so you get the best end product.
Not only does starting with seed help reduce pesticides in your garden but it also reduces the pesticide runoff that happens. That pesticide runoff lands in our water systems and causes great damage to our health so we want to stop using pesticides and chemical fertilizers asap.
Go natural it has worked for millions of years and will continue to do so. We just need to follow the laws of nature.
Can you think of other reasons to start from seed? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Plant something from seed today and watch it grow.
Plant Power On,