Reasons to Raise Your Own Transplants for the Garden

Article written by Troy-Bilt brand ambassador Kenny Point of Veggie Gardening Tips

Many gardeners purchase vegetable and flower transplants because they are convenient, save time and help to get the garden off to an early start. But if you're relying on store-bought transplants, you're missing out on the great reasons to grow your own transplants from seed.


Let's start with the financial benefits of starting transplants rather than buying them. The cost of plants has been steadily increasing with a six pack of seedlings selling for nearly $4 in my area. So, it can become very expensive to buy all your garden plants compared to purchasing seeds and starting them yourself.
Of course, seed-starting has some added expenses such as the containers and a planting mix to sow the seeds in, but a packet of seed goes a long way, containers can be recycled and reused, and even the planting mix can be one that you put together yourself or purchase in bulk.
The only significant investment for raising transplants yourself is a good light source, and even the options and pricing in this area have improved for home and small-scale growers. You can find simple stands with grow lights included for under $50 that will last for years and allow you to grow hundreds of plants!
Beyond saving money, the same pleasure and satisfaction that you receive from tending the garden will be gained by nurturing your own transplants from seed. It's just as rewarding to watch seeds germinate and grow into healthy transplants that will eventually be moved outdoors into the garden. You're involved in the entire growth process and you can provide the ultimate level of attention to your seedlings.
I frequently come across neglected transplants that look pitiful; while they may recover what are the chances they will become the best plants in the garden? The survival response of young plants that are stressed is to flower, fruit and go to seed prematurely, which spoils their chances for high productivity. An example is that six pack of four-inch tall broccoli transplants that are already forming tiny buds right on the shelves in the store! 
You can raise great transplants, and avoid the pitfalls of root-based potted plants, improper watering and other stressors that can send young plants into panic mode. A close watch will ensure that your transplants are pampered and never spend a minute suffering through extreme temperatures or wilting due to a lack of moisture. You'll know how the plants were cared for, if any pesticides were applied, the type of fertilizers used and whether they were properly hardened off.
Learning to recognize when something is amiss with your plants allows you to address the situation at the earliest stages. You'll experience what a vibrant, healthy, stocky transplant looks like and how it performs in the garden. One caution I have is not to cut corners on your light source. Don't be tempted to rely on indirect sunlight through a window and risk weak, leggy growth when there are excellent and reasonably priced lights available.
Another great benefit of growing your own transplants is that you open the door to propagate remarkable varieties of plants that you won't find for sale at the local nursery or garden center. This summer I'll be harvesting Amazon Chocolate and Yellow Brandywine Tomatoes, Stocky Red Roaster and Brazilian Orchid Peppers, and other rare selections and interesting heirlooms.
Growing your own transplants means that you will have plants ready to fit your time schedule. That's important if you want to start the garden early, take advantage of succession planting or want to plant a fall garden when the local nurseries are not offering the cold hardy crops that you need to extend the growing season. Starting your own transplants will give you complete control and flexibility.