Agriculture Methods: Direct Sow vs Transplants

It’s the time of the year for hardy root crops and light leafy greens, many of which we choose, at Lettuce, to direct sow into the ground. It is as simple as dropping a seed into the dirt. These vegetables include carrots, beets, radishes, beans, lettuce, spinach, and mustard greens, to name a few. However, we also transplant many vegetables, including kale, chard, broccoli, cabbage, collards, kohlrabi, and tomatoes (which we grew to some success this fall), and transplanting helps us get a head start on these vegetables by growing them from seed in a controlled environment (read greenhouse).

Both direct sowing and transplanting have different advantages and different concerns. With direct sowing, some plants, like carrots, simply don’t like to be transplanted, but also in the case of the carrots (and it applies to most things directly sown), it is a lot more cost and time efficient to direct seed them as the plants can grow fairly close together. With direct sowing, there are fewer steps in the process to get the vegetables from seed to maturity, but in addition to having to wait for the right temperatures, there is always the potential for pests and weather to wipe out your baby seedlings. With transplanting, there is the additional time, effort, and resources to grow the vegetables in a controlled environment. However, the advantage of being able to start a plant’s growth before optimal temperatures, as well as the chance to optimize growing space in your bed by only putting in strong plants can outweigh the costs.

There is generally no one right way to grow something. Usually, adding a combination of sun, water, oxygen, and a nutrient-rich growing medium will do the trick, but different vegetables will grow better and produce more when you consider their beginnings and give them the best start possible. If you have any questions concerning this topic or want to ask how our transplants or direct-sown seeds are doing right now, please feel free to comment below to start a conversation! Otherwise, stay warm and dry in these cold days and don’t forget to cover your plants for the freeze!

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