Seeds & Plug Plants
Before deciding whether to grow from seed or use plug plants, it is important to make sure that you choose vegetables that you like to eat - what good is a glut of vegetables you don't like! So give some consideration to what you would really like to grow (and eat!) and then decide if is easier to grow those vegetables from seed or use plug plants.
Seed vs. Plug Plants
There is no clear cut reason for choosing one over the other as there are a number of factors that will influence your decision.
Seed - Growing your vegetable plants from seed can be a very rewarding experience and if you have the available time then it is definitely worth trying. The amount of attention different plants need can vary greatly. Some seeds work well sown direct into the soil and therefore do not require as much time and attention as those which are started in propagators, hardened off and then transferred to their final position. If growing from seed and time is a constraint then choose vegetables which work well sown direct and that require less attention such as beetroot, carrots, cabbages and broccoli.
Plug plants - these can be an easier option, especially when available time limits your gardening. The range available and the delivery methods have improved considerably over the last few years and it is a great way for those new to gardening to get started. Plants which require a lot of time to grow from seed and may be easier to buy as plug plants include leeks, cucumbers, herbs, strawberries and onions (easier to use onion sets).
Seed - This is often the most cost effective way of growing although you may need some simple equipment to get you started. A simple propagator is a very worthwhile investment and will make it easier to manage the germination conditions for your seeds. Many vegetables will grow easily from seed and work well if sown directly, and it is these which work work out much more cost effective from seed. Lettuce, carrots, beetrot and most brassicas (cabbage, broccoli etc...) are all good vegetables to grow from seed
Plug Plants - These normally end up being more expensive as you are paying extra for a nursery to grow the plant from seed for you. There is also additional cost in shipping plug plants as they require specific packaging to arrive in good condition. For example 16 cabbage plug plants would typically cost £5-£6 where 50 seeds would cost £2.
Seed - If you are new to gardening then growing from seed can seem daunting, but it really is worth trying with certain vegetables which are easy to grow from seed and will work out much cheaper than plug plants. Some examples can be seen in the table below. If you are a more experienced gardener you will know how rewarding it can be to grow from seed and it is worth trying to grow more and more from seed as it will be more cost effective.
Plug Plants - Ideal if you are new to gardening and can make growing your own very easy when starting out. They are also ideal if you don't have the time to grow from seed, but still want to experience your own home grown vegetables. Although more expensive it is ideal for the beginner. More experienced gardeners or those who want to save money may want to grow more from seed and not use plug plants, but certain vegetables which require a lot of attention and susceptible to disease may still be worth getting as plug plants. The table below suggests which plants are better to buy as plug plants.
Don't forget to look at our extensive Organic Seed Range, including traditional and more unusual varieties, and our Organic Vegetable Plug Plant Collections which are available as vouchers, making a great gift for a new gardener.
The table shows some suggestions for whether to buy as seed or plug plants, some of the the suggestions to buy as plug plants require high temperatures for seed germination so are difficult to grow from seed unless you have a greenhouse or heated propagator such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.