When you purchase hybrid seeds, it generally means that plant breeders took two different, yet related varieties of plants and cross-pollinated them in order to create a plant with improved characteristics.
There’s not as much benefit to saving seed from that plant because it will revert back to being like one of the parent plants, so while hybrid plants aren’t inherently bad – indeed they often have desirable characteristics – they do make you reliant on regularly buying seeds, which costs money.
When you purchase open-pollinated seeds, you can save them every year (or every other year, in the case of biennials) when they mature, and plant them again next year.
That saves money, but the biggest benefit is that every year, that seed and those plants become better suited to your soil, and much more likely to produce nutrient-dense food.
Saving seeds is a lot of work. In my garden, I try to avoid too much work, but saving seeds is one thing I absolutely advocate, partially for the cost savings, but more because every year that you plant your own seeds and then harvest seeds from the healthiest plants, you’re growing more and more nutritious food.
If growing highly nutritious food is one of your main goals, seed saving needs to be part of your plan.
And then the next step is often to start those seeds indoors in late winter and then throughout the growing season.
That way you’ll be able to plant outside earlier in the spring, you’ll save a lot of money over buying seedlings, and whenever a plant is harvested from your garden, you’ll have something to replace it.
The biointensive recipe for a seeding mix is half compost and half soil from your double dug beds, or ⅓ compost and ⅓ soil and ⅓ old seeding mix as long as the seedlings weren’t diseased.
If your garden soil is really poor, and you don’t have good compost yet, you’re probably going to want to bring in some compost/soil or seed starting mix.
I do both starting seeds indoors and direct sowing outdoors.
What I like about direct sowing is that it’s less work, and easier on the plant because there’s no transplant shock – in fact, for many plants, direct-sown plants that are planted at the same time as transplanted plants will catch up eventually, because they don’t have the transplant shock.
I do start seeds indoors mainly in the tomato family because if I direct seed them in my cooler climate, it will be a very late harvest or they may not even get to fruiting.
Also, if your garden soil is poor or your outdoor irrigation can’t be done consistently when seeds are starting, it can be difficult to get seeds to germinate, so starting seeds indoors may make sense.
And if your garden space is small, it also makes sense to always have seedlings inside, ready to fill in empty spaces outside.
Here’s a link to my video on how to start your own plants from seeds…