By Patricia Beynan
I like instant gratification in my garden. I found a place to buy inexpensive seedlings ready to plant last year and used their seedlings to make my naked plot a garden. It was the first year for my community garden, and I'd spent a lot of time improving the soil, removing the rocks, adding amendments and raking and mounding to raise the level of the garden. Therefore, I wanted a garden with green things right away, my reward for all that hard work. My first green things were three kinds of lettuce, cabbage, spinach, and peas.
Other people arrived with home grown seedlings in toilet paper tubes and peat pots that they'd been growing on window sills and under lights since there was still snow on the ground. I'm trying my hand at growing my own this year too, but I'll remember where my bargain plants came from last year in case I need a little more instant gratification.
My big success with planting from directly into the garden came from two sources. First, I pulled some pole beans from a pile of tree trimmings next to the gardens and grew on a tepee of poles . They grew not as tall as I expected, but were endlessly prolific even during the record rains of August that drowned my cucumbers and melons. The second, a package of marigold seeds provided dozens of plants that I transferred from their original positions around the tomato plants to form a perimeter of orange and gold. They bloomed far into the fall, dropping the blooms and seeds into the garden when I was neglectful of my deadheading duties. I expect I'll be finding new volunteer seedlings all over the space when I get into it this spring
So, instant gratification=planting seedlings, but it is the more expensive option. If you want the satisfaction of do it yourself, get out your peat pots, and plant your own six weeks before you want them in the ground. For the fast growers, put them right into the ground, and stand back and let that beanstalk spring up.