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Difference Between Seeds and Seedlings

Seeds vs Seedlings

If you are fond of gardening, you may already know a lot about seeds and seedlings. But for those who are new to this talk, they often treat the two as one and the same.

Seeds and seedlings are different from each other. To put it simply, a seed is a seed ‘“ a tiny embryonic plant that is encapsulated in a shell called the seed coat. What’s inside can also be some stored food. Seeds in actuality are the end result of a ripened ovule of seed bearing plants (gymnosperms) and flowering plants (angiosperms) that follow the fertilization process. On the other hand, a seedling is also a seed but has just sprouted. It is therefore a baby or an infant plant.

The main question between the two is what to use in vegetable gardening. Some say using seeds are best while others claim that seedlings are far better. Well, both have their pros and cons and the usage of either one depends on the situation or need. If you are dealing with plants that have long growing seasons then you can use seeds if you are in warmer climate regions. But if you are in fast changing warm to cold climate areas then it may be best to use seedlings for that same plant.

There are many techniques in planting seeds. These methods also vary depending on what type of seed you’d like to grow. Some seeds just need to be placed at the surface of your seed-raising mix while other seeds need to be buried a little deeper. Seedlings are usually transplanted so as long as the plant is a kind that transplants well then go for seedlings and not seeds.

In general, the majority of seeds for vegetable or fruit gardening grow slower compared to seedlings. Most seedlings germinate in 2 weeks or less. At this same time, they have already penetrated a little firmly on the ground. Giving them 2 to 3 more weeks would make the seedling look like ordinary young plants. Take note, there are some vegetables whose germination rate are slower than most plants so even if you plant them as seedlings you shouldn’t expect them to mature soon. Because of this nature, seeds are often a lot cheaper compared to buying seedlings that already have some minor roots and premature stems.

Choosing which item to use for your garden is really a matter of personal preference, knowledge of your plant’s growing season, and also on the urgency of your harvest ‘“ like if you want to reap your fruits or vegetables a lot quicker or not.

1. Seeds are seeds (encapsulated embryonic plants) while seedlings are seeds that have just sprouted.

2. Seeds usually grow a lot slower compared to seedlings.

3. Seeds are generally less expensive than seedlings.

Seeds vs Seedlings If you are fond of gardening, you may already know a lot about seeds and seedlings. But for those who are new to this talk, they often treat

Vegetable Seeds or Seedlings? Find Out Which Is Best for Your Garden

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

When planting a vegetable garden in the spring, you can either plant seeds or purchase seedlings from your local garden center. While seeds are inexpensive when compared to the cost of vegetable seedlings, there are other factors to consider in making your decision.

Growing vegetables from seeds may not be practical for long-season plants in regions with short growing seasons. That’s why, when it comes to long-season plants such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, most gardeners purchase seedlings or established potted plants from the nursery—or start their seeds indoors weeks before planting time.

How to Choose Between Seeds and Transplants

The choice between direct seeding and transplanting seedlings comes down to three basic questions:

  1. Is the vegetable easy to germinate from seed?
  2. Is the growing season long enough for the vegetable to mature if planted from seed?
  3. Does the vegetable transplant well?

Answers to these three questions will determine how you plant your vegetable garden. To some degree, your answers will depend on your regional climate. In southern gardens where the growing season runs from February to November, there is plenty of time to grow tomatoes and peppers from seed, but in a northern climate where the growing season is only five months long, a gardener may run out of time.

The seed packet itself provides a wealth of information to help you make your choice:

  • Time to Maturity. This will tell you how long after the seed sprouts that the plant reaches maturity. If the packet indicates maturity is reached at 75 days, you won’t get produce until after that time.
  • Sow Time. The seed packet will tell you when the seeds should be planted relative to the last frost date in your area. It may even indicate that the seeds must be started indoors, as much as eight weeks before the last frost. These are vegetables you will want to plant as seedlings unless you are up to the challenge of starting them indoors.

Vegetables That Are Usually Direct-Seeded in the Garden

Root crops and vegetables with long taproots, such as carrots, generally don’t transplant well and need to be direct seeded. Some quick growing crops, like peas and summer squash, don’t benefit from being started indoors because plants direct seeded in the garden will quickly catch up to transplants. Here are some common vegetables that are normally direct-seeded:

  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Garlic
  • Lettuce
  • Muskmelons
  • Okra
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Pumpkins
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Salsify
  • Squash
  • Turnips
  • Watermelon

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The Spruce / K. Dave

Vegetables That Are Often Transplanted as Seedlings

Although it is possible to grow just about any vegetable from seeds, more slow-growing vegetables are often planted as seedlings that have been started indoors. The following are usually more convenient to transplant into the garden as established seedlings:

  • Basil
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Chives
  • Collards greens
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Lale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Mustard
  • Parsley
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

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The Spruce / K. Dave

Vegetables That Are Started From Roots or Bulbs

Then there are a handful of vegetables that aren’t usually planted from seeds or seedlings at all, but from root divisions or bulbs:

  • Artichokes: Grown by root divisions
  • Asparagus: Planted from 1-year-old roots
  • Garlic and Shallots: Planted from cloves
  • Horseradish: Planted from root cuttings
  • Onions: Planted from sets
  • Potatoes: Planted from seed potatoes/divisions
  • Rhubarb: Planted from root crowns
  • Sweet Potatoes: Planted from slips

Whatever your choice, direct seeding, seed starting or purchasing seedlings, it’s best to decide on a strategy well before planting time. Get your plants in the ground as early as possible so they have time to acclimate to the warming weather and to give them the longest growing season possible.

Whether to direct sow vegetables or purchase seedlings depends the time it takes the vegetable to mature, and on the length of your growing season. ]]>