Transplant or Direct-Seed

May 20, 2015

Three years ago, I learned about making greenhouses in order to winter-sow seeds so I could get a jump start on the season. Over the past three years, I have used the greenhouses to winter-sow everything from onions and celery to tomatoes and green peppers and everything in between. It has been great…mainly because it gives me something to do during the winter months 😉

Last winter, I realized the spinach I winter-sowed and then transplanted did not help me get a jump start on the season at all. The direct-sowed spinach caught up with the transplanted spinach so quickly that I wrote in my gardening journal to NOT winter-sow spinach this year.

This year, I winter-sowed basically everything but spinach, carrots, and beets. Because seeds are so cheap, I also start direct-seeding early and often (every 2 weeks). You never know what kind of spring you are going to get, after all.

Here are some pictures of plants that were direct-sown vs. started in greenhouses and transplanted.

The green cabbage was direct-seeded March 16. The purple cabbage were transplanted from the greenhouses April 13. Look at the difference!Nieto Photography 2015Broccoli
I direct-seeded some broccoli March 16DSC_8421 and then transplanted the greenhouse plants April 13.DSC_8422Lettuce
I direct-seeded lettuce March 16 (one of the frosts killed some of the seedlings, which is why there are some ‘blank’ spaces)DSC_8420 and transplanted the greenhouse plants April 16. Both have been harvested from heavily.DSC_8414Tomatoes
Full disclosure: the greenhouse tomatoes were killed because of frost and replanted twice; therefore, they were not as large as they were in years past (when they were not killed by frosts).

However, the tomato seeds were planted March 30 (I wonder if being planted by a wooden board helped them not be killed by a frost we had the first of April – wind protection and added warmth?)DSC_8415and the greenhouse tomatoes were transplanted April 22.DSC_8417Summer Squash
Again, the greenhouse summer squash were replanted twice. That being said, the seeds were direct-sown April 22 (in a bed with fresh horse manure added – what a difference in weeding this makes!)DSC_8418while the greenhouse plants were transplanted April 20.DSC_8419The only plant I have not been able to direct-sow (yet) is green peppers.


I wanted to get a ‘jump start’ on more chickens this year and instead of waiting on a hen to go broody, I went ahead and bought 10 from the feed store. This meant having them in our house for 6 weeks, making sure the heat lamp was at the right temperature, having to put them in the coop on rainy, cold days so they would not die (3 did), etc, etc, etc.DSC_8426If I had waited just a little longer, we have had 4 hens go broody in the past 5 weeks and they are hatching out chicks left and right. We do not need to keep them warm, safe, or even fed, for the most part because their mama does all of this wonderfully!

Nieto Photography 2015


Back to the Garden…

Even with all of that evidence, I am having a hard time making a firm decision to not winter-sow anymore. Why do I fight so hard to do difficult things when something much more simple is presented/available? I listen to videos of Paul’s tours all the time and one thing he talks about is working with nature instead of against it…using a cover instead of ‘leaving the skin off’, not planting in a greenhouse (at least not with the roof on), etc.

Paul still tries to push the boundaries; but for the most part, he tries to do it naturally. He grows grapes along a firewood pile, which creates a heat-sink…he grows a fig tree in a south-facing area with trees on the north side to protect them in the winter…he grows kale under his cherry tree in the winter so when he gets snow, the branches break the blanket of snow so he can still harvest kale.

He still uses transplants for tomatoes and peppers but for the most part, he direct seeds. Listening to him is always inspiring in many ways. One aspect that has been coming loud and clear as of late is that when I try to rely on man’s wisdom (trying to ‘get a jump on the season’), it is more labor-intensive and I find I am not getting the intended results. When I do things in God’s timing (in His seasons), I see the plants tend to be healthier.

Now, I know I will get comments about ‘I live in an area where I HAVE to start seeds’, etc. I am NOT at all judging anyone who starts seeds or saying you shouldn’t. This is a blog about our garden and all I am doing is sharing about our garden and what God is teaching me through my time in the garden. 🙂

He has been impressing on me: patience – about His seasons and my ‘need’ to rush things or try to hold onto them…thankfulness – that in every season there is something to be thankful for; instead of focusing on how I wish x,y,or z would happen like last season, be thankful for what is going on now…and oh so many other things.

I grew up hearing about ‘tree huggers’ and basically that if anyone loved nature, they were not worshipers of God. As an adult, I have never learned so much about God and His nature before gardening. There are so many parts of the Bible that never made much sense before I had a garden (pruning comes to mind). I love it!

What are you learning lately as you spend time in God’s creation? Today, I am linking up with green-thumb Thursday


3 thoughts on “Transplant or Direct-Seed

  1. Gentle Joy

    Your garden looks great… and I enjoyed hearing about what has worked and what hasn’t… I, too, have learned so much about God (and grown in my relationship with Him) in gardening. 🙂

  2. Molly Schultz

    My daughter put in tomato seeds in April and I promise you that her plants are just as big, if not bigger than mine that I started in the greenhouse in Feb! I love how Paul always reminds us to work with nature. It’s so different than what you read in any book, though. It’s hard to remember to put it into practice. Your garden looks great!
    We had a hen surprisingly go broody on us and we love to watch her and her little chicks. I didn’t even know her eggs were fertile. I keep her in the cow pasture to help with manure and flies, but a rooster must have made his way out there. I find that chicks hatched from a mama hen are much hardier than any I’ve bought from the store or hatchery. But it’s hard to keep track of how old the laying hens are and how well they are producing if mama’s are hatching new chicks every year.

  3. FeathersInTheWoods (@la_murano)

    Oh wow, the direct seeds caught up fast! I just put my seedlings and seeds in this week (we frosted last week so it was good that I waited!) I hope mine catch up fast too! Cute chicks!

    Thanks for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday. I hope to see you back again this week!



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