My neighbor came over today to ask some questions about radish seed germination. I told him you just plant the radish seeds in the soil as there is no need to germinate prior to planting. This conversation led me back to prior conversations I had with coworkers about spring and summer vegetables and what to plant by seed and what should be purchased in plants.
Nurseries often stock vegetables that have no real purpose to buy as plants as they grow better by seed planted in the soil at a fraction of the price of plants. I have to chuckle every time I see peas, lettuce, spinach, corn, beets, swiss chard and others that are being sold as plants when they do much better and provide much more quantity from seed. The nurseries make a good profit on these plants so they are not likely to inform the customer regarding this issue.
Barring having an indoor grow system to start your own seedlings, here is my basic list of spring and summer plants and which to plant by seed and which to buy plants for our climate and short growing season.
SPRING VEGETABLES TO PLANT BY SEED:
all lettuce family, arugula, spinach, kohlrabi, beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, parsnips, peas, fava beans, swiss chard, cilantro, leeks
SPRING PLANTS TO PLANT BY SETS:
onions, garlic (best to plant in fall for next summer harvest), potatoes
SPRING VEGETABLES TO BUY AS PLANTS:
broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, onions (come in starts and bulbs).
SUMMER VEGETABLES TO PLANT BY SEED:
beans, corn, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, tomatillo
SUMMER VEGETABLES TO BUY AS PLANTS:
egg plant, all peppers, tomatoes, all herbs, cantaloupe, watermelon, sweet potato (by slips) (I sometimes buy squash and cucumber plants for the head start but it is not necessary as they grow well from seed).
You can grow all of the spring crops again in late summer for a fall harvest. Although some will disagree and say they can grow tomatoes from seed and still get a harvest but other than a few volunteer plants that have provided a handful of cherry tomatoes I don’t believe the propoganda.