One of the most frequent questions asked when starting a garden is “Should I transplant or direct sow my seeds? We need to remember that plants are like people. They have their likes and dislikes. What works for some might not work for others. The most important step to take before you start any gardening project is taking the time to research and asking the right questions.

A couple questions to consider; Where is my garden positioned with the sun? How much shade will interfere with direct sunlight? Does this plant do well in my area? What is my climate zone? What types of fertilizers are safe for vegetables and fruits? Is my soil healthy?  The two ways to get your plants started is transplanting and direct sowing. Transplanting involves starting your seeds in a seedling tray, paper pot or module and relocating after the seedling is mature to be relocated into your garden. Direct sowing is growing the seeds directly in your garden. Both have advantages and disadvantages. It depends on the plant as well. Pumpkins, peppers, melons, leeks, cabbage, gourds and tomatoes need more time to mature, and are ideal for transplanting. Annuals, plants with large seeds, plants that require weathering, plants with fragile root systems and root crops (like beets and carrots), are more suited to for direct sowing. The benefit of transplanting your seedlings is being able to control the environment. This method allows the plant to thrive in its ideal conditions with complete control of soil moisture and heat. It gives you a head start on your growing season and gives the seedling a higher chance to flourish when the weather starts warming up. Transplanting also helps with maximizing your garden space by weeding out (no pun intended)  seeds that didn’t sprout and helps you to avoid plants from being overcrowded by selecting to keep only the strongest, healthiest seeds competing for nutrients. Transplanting also helps with timed growing and continual harvest throughout the season. “Sow little and often” especially with limited space.
The downside of transplanting is the possibility of shocking the plant when relocating. Just like people, plants can feel the stress of new surroundings. These factors include the nutrients in your soil, weather changes, watering patterns and garden pests. Transplanting also requires the plant to ‘harden off’ for a couple days minimum. This is introducing the plant to the outdoor environment. I start with an hour the first day and gradually adding an hour or two each day. If you don’t have the ideal sun light it would be advised to purchase lighting equipment.

Directly sowing your seeds can be beneficial as it causes the plant minimum disturbance in the growing process and eliminating the hardening procedure. You will minimize the purchase of any extra equipment and time. Root crops would be recommended to sow directly. A potential downside of direct sowing is the constant loop of ‘spraying and praying’. Then, if your little seeds didn’t sprout in your garden, you have lost precious time and resources. Sometimes being too late in the season to start over.


Written by- Nick Delacruz, Garden Center Manager