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Starting Seeds, Part 1: Why Start Seeds?

Four of our favorite reasons to play in the dirt this winter

· seeds

This winter, we’re excited to offer seed starting classes. If you’ve never tried starting your own vegetables from seed, tried and struggled, or just want some tips, this class is for you! In the class, we’ll provide everything you need to start and grow at least six plants. We are still finalizing details, and using the results of polling on the Swissvale Community Garden facebook group page to help determine when and what to offer. To give input, head on over there and complete the polls.

So why start your own vegetable seeds?

  1. It’s economical. You can get literally hundreds of pounds of food for several years for just a few dollars. For example, a single packet of one of our tomatoes from this year costs $2.95. Over 4 years, you could start about 30 plants. Each of those plants could produce on average 14 pounds of tomatoes. That means you could get 420 pounds of tomatoes for just $2.95 -- that’s $.007/pound -- not even 1 cent per pound! Compare that to the $1.50/pound you pay at the Giant Eagle (or more for organic, out of season, or at the Whole Foods or the Co-Op at $4-5/pound). Plus, did you know SNAP EBT can be used to purchase seeds? You can purchase seeds using SNAP at any grocery store accepting EBT. Consult the USDA website for a detailed list of permitted purchases. When you start your own seeds, food is (almost) free!**

  2. It’s under your control. You know the place the seeds came from, the dirt you use, the way you grow it -- there are no mysteries or things to worry about, like if your plant or food has been previously sprayed with pesticides or grown unsustainably, or with unfair labor practices. You don’t have to rely on anyone else to get it to you, and you don’t have to travel to the store - it’s right out your door.

  3. It’s super fun, and good for you. Watching seeds grow into plants, especially as winter is still hanging on, is one of the most satisfying and fun parts of gardening. Studies show that playing in dirt is actually good for your health, and especially your mental health. Certain microbes actually cause your brain to release serotonin and make you happier. And you especially need this in winter, when it is seed starting time!

  4. It’s a family friendly activity. Seeds are exciting to all ages of kids. Young children are fascinated to see the roots and shoots coming out of the seeds, and older children can experiment with the science of plant growth by placing the same seeds in a variety of growing conditions and measuring the outcomes. And of course, everyone loves the reward of eating something they have grown from beginning to end, especially as part of a fun meal or snack, like pizza!

We hope you’re convinced that starting seeds is awesome, and will join us at our classes this winter! Stay tuned for more with Starting Seeds, Part 2: Where to Get Seeds

**Of course, this does not take into account the cost of the dirt, water, or energy (negligible for a home gardener, and spread over many years). However, the grocery store tomato cost does not account for the cost of energy getting to and from the store, so we think that evens it all out :-)

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