The Q&A Archives: What's better seeds or seedlings for first time gardener?

Question: I would like to know what is best to purchase, seeds or seedlings, I have never had a garden before.

Answer: Since you have never gardened before I suppose it is more relaxing to buy seedlings or transplants because at least you know for sure you have some plants. Seeds, though, are much less expensive and can work just fine, too. You might try some of both. Marigolds and sunflowers, for instance, are very easy annuals to start from seed planted directly in the ground. Most perennials, on the other hand, can be a bit tricky to start from seed and generally don't bloom until the second year so many gardeners prefer to purchase plants.

The most important thing is to prepare your soil well before you plant, being sure to work in lots of organic matter such as compost, rotted leaves, or aged manure and bedding. Most flowers do best in a rich, evenly moist yet well drained soil (meaning not soggy) and the organic matter helps with the necessary soil structure. You might also wish to run some basic soil tests to see what else, if anything, you need to add to improve your soil. Your County Extension (625-0056) should be able to help you with the tests and interpreting the results. They may also be able to suggest plants that do particularly well in your area.

Finally, you might want to look at some basic gardening books to help you get started. Some I particularly like are "Gardening For Dummies" by Michael MacCaskey ISBN 1-56884-644-4; "Annuals for Dummies" by Bill Marken ISBN 0-7645-5056-X; and "Perennials for Dummies" by Marcia Tatroe ISBN 0-7645-5030-6. Enjoy your flowers!

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