If you’ve never grown your own vegetables you won’t have experienced the joy and pride of pulling fresh carrots from the ground with soil still clinging to them, or cutting a crisp and tasty lettuce for your salad. And if you have grown a vegetable garden, have you ever grown your plants from garden seeds?

Your forebears would undoubtedly have answered the question with a resounding ‘yes’ but nowadays retailers have a bewildering array of seedlings to tempt the aspiring gardener. In this article I’m trying to show you that sowing seed is a worthwhile and even exciting way to grow your garden.

The Fascination
As a child, did you have your own garden plot or work in the garden at school? In the science lab did you ever watch eagerly for beans or corn, pinned to absorbent paper, to send out roots and stems? If so, can you remember the eagerness with which you waited for the first sign of growth?

Growing seeds in your garden can have that same element of anticipation. I’ve been growing plants from seed for maybe forty years but I’ve never quite lost the child-like wonder at the miracle of growth that is so profoundly displayed when seeds germinate and seedlings appear: the uninspiring, dry-looking contents of the packet turn into an abundance of living plants.

Something Extra
You probably bought your first seeds from a local retailer. Did you have difficulty deciding which variety to buy? The range would, in fact, have been very limited, consisting of a mixture of a few old favourites and some new releases.

What you may not have known is that there’s a wealth of seed varieties available if only you know where to look. The internet is a great place to start. Many sites sell heirloom seeds, and that’s where you’ll be offered a mouth-watering array of vegetables: varieties your ancestors grew, seeds that were grown fifty, a hundred, maybe two hundred years ago.

The seeds come in an unbelievable range of shapes, sizes, colours (orange, red, yellow, purple and white carrots, for example), and best of all, the true flavour of the vegetable. Nowadays some vegetables, especially tomatoes, have been bred to last longer on the shop shelf and flavour has been lost along the way.

I couldn’t hope to find and list all the producers of these marvellous seeds. Besides it’s fun to go to your favourite search engine and type in ‘vegetable seeds’ or, if I’ve convinced you, ‘heirloom vegetable seeds’. If a site offers to send you a catalogue, spoil yourself and order one.

Growing vegetables from seed is exciting and the crops are abundant. Somehow, the plants are more personal than those grown from purchased seedlings. Make it even more interesting by trying at least one new variety each year for comparison with your favorites.

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