Tomatoes, fresh sweet corn, squash enough to share, fresh green beans, and crisp cucumbers from your own garden are right around the corner. Don’t forget pepper and eggplant! Should the garden purchase a plant from the nursery, grow her own transplants, or direct seed? All these methods are valid.
It makes sense to purchase transplants when you would like to grow one plant of each of several cultivars of tomato, pepper or eggplant. These crops transplant well. And a couple tomato plants will produce plenty of fruit. The transplants are generally grown in a greenhouse or in a warmer location, so the gardener benefits by planting a larger plant, several weeks ahead of a seed planted now. Likewise, herbs are often purchased as single plants.
Planting seed in the ground in the garden is called direct seeding. It makes sense to direct seed crops like corn and beans that require many individual plants to produce a reasonable harvest. It is more economic and practical to direct seed these crops.
It also makes sense to direct seed crops that don’t transplant well. These include squash, melon and cucumber. Many retail nurseries carry them, and they can be transplanted, but it takes a couple weeks for the plant to recover from transplant shock, and direct seeding generally results in a healthier plant. Some root crops, like carrot, parsnip, turnip are directed seeded.
The more experienced gardener may be interested in growing a cultivar not available in the local nursery, or may be on a garden budget, or may simply enjoy growing transplants from seed. Crops like cabbage, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, tomato, pepper and eggplant have small seedlings, easily confused with weeds in the garden. It makes sense for the home gardener to start these in small pots.
Some crops are suitable for direct seed or transplant. These include lettuce, okra, spinach, artichoke.
For gardeners in the Fresno area, there will be some fabulous opportunities to select from a wide array of tomato cultivars and support local agricultural education. Tomato and pepper plants will be for sale on Thursday, March 21 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Fresno City College, in front of the library. Plan to park at a parking meter space. Vegetable plants will be for sale on Saturday, April 6 at the brand new farm market at Fresno State University. All types of plants for sale Saturday April 13 at the Fresno State horticultural greenhouses on Barstow east of Chestnut.