When it comes to growing tomatoes indoors, you have one question that you need to answer before you are able to even begin the growing process. What is that question? Simply whether you plan on sowing seeds and starting things off from absolute scratch or if you prefer to use seedlings and skip that initial germination part of the process.
Now, clearly both aspects are going to come with their very own advantages and disadvantages and it is important that we look at both sides in the interest of fairness. Furthermore, by weighing up both sides it should ultimately make it easier for you to then come to some kind of a conclusion as to whether or not you should opt for the seed option or if you believe that this is going to be far beyond your current horticultural capabilities.
The Pros of Starting from Seeds.
So, let us begin by looking at the various pros of starting things off from seed and there are a number of clear positives that are able to make a huge difference.
Varieties - The first positive is that you are going to be able to gain access to an absolutely huge number of varieties and this does mean that you can take your time to really pick and choose the varieties that are going to be grown at home. In addition, you can choose from various colors of tomatoes and even the height that they are going to grow too and at the last count it was estimated that there were something in the region of 7,500 different varieties of tomatoes.
Cost - The second positive is that buying seed is cheap as you get a number of seeds for next to no money at all. This does mean that, at least from an economical point of view it is difficult to compete with it even when you add in the cost of the pot and potting mix.
Saving Seeds - A third positive is that you do not have to even use all of the seeds in a single year as it is very easy to store them over the winter until the following growing season. This is especially true when you then think about the way in which you will generally be buying more seeds than you actually need so most people will have some left over with this fitting in, once again, with the economy side of things.
Less Dependence - A fourth positive aspect is that after the first year you are going to be able to cultivate your very own seeds and then grow tomatoes from those rather than going ahead and purchasing new. However, this does take a little bit of skill so it may not be for everybody.
Seeds Swapping - Finally, if you have a rarer type of seed, then there is every chance that you will be able to swap them for others with friends in order to increase the variety you are growing. This is not exactly something you can do with seedlings.
The Cons of Starting from Seeds.
So, how about the cons? Well, once again there are a few to think about.
More Time - The first problem is the time it takes for you to see any progress as you have to wait for germination and this can take weeks. Patience is a virtue when it comes to this, so it may not appeal to everybody. Also, you are going to need some extra equipment and skills to get things started and this is also something that might not appeal to a lot of people.
Risk of Loss - Regarding the growing aspect, you must be able to understand the correct time to plant the seeds, how to water them so that they are able to grow, the heat that is required and even the amount of light. This is a lot to take on board and not everybody is going to be in a position that they can then do this. If you have never grown anything from seed before, then this may not be the best way to start.
Transplant - Finally, you have to know how to transplant them so that the seedlings have more space to grow and they are not going to be growing on top of one another. This is extremely important or else the roots will be strangling one another and then you will have a slight problem when it comes to the health of your plant.
The Pros of Starting from Seedlings.
But how about seedlings? What are the various positives that are associated with starting from this point? Well, as with seeds they do have several reasons as to why you may wish to try growing them from a seedling rather than a seed.
Less Time - In addition, there is not the same need for the same amount of equipment to get things started as the difficult part of the process, which is the germination aspect, has already been done for you. In other words, you do not have to worry about getting things kickstarted so instead can focus purely on getting the plant to grow as strong as possible.
No Need to Transplant - As the plant has already been grown and is in an individual pot, then you do not have to worry about trying to time it correctly for transplanting it over and splitting up the brand new seedlings. You must remember that when doing that you are going to have a varying success rate with some seeds just not making the grade, but you do not have to be concerned about that when you are growing from a seedling. Transplanting is a thing of the past, but you do still have to be prepared to move it to a larger pot that is going to become its home for its lifetime.
Right Timing - We also mentioned as a con of growing from seed that you had to be aware of when to plant the seed as it is all about timing to coincide with the weather and the temperature. However, that is not a problem in this instance because you will tend to find that the seedling is for sale at the correct part of the season so there is no need to be concerned about it. If you see that the plant is young and healthy, then it must be the correct time.
As you can see, there are a number of clear positives of growing from seedlings and they do generally deal with the problems and cons of growing from seed. However, we do need to look at the potential negatives in the interest of being fair.
The Cons of Starting from Seedlings.
Cost - There are a few issues that you have to think about when it comes to starting from seedlings and the first one that must be mentioned is to do with the cost. Generally speaking, you are looking at this costing you more money on a per plant basis and this in itself makes a lot of sense. You have to remember that when you purchase seeds you are doing so in some kind of bulk whereas a single tomato plant can cost you more money due to the time and effort that has already gone into its development.
Varieties - Another issue is that you will be more restricted when it comes to the varieties as a number of places will only stock a relative handful as opposed to the potential thousands of different varieties that are available in seeds. Now, for some this may not be a problem but you need to remember that variety is indeed the spice of life and that does also apply when it comes to tomatoes.
No Seeds - If you grow tomato plants from seedlings, then you should know that you are more often than not going to be growing hybrid plants. This means you will not be able to harvest the seeds and then store them over winter in order to then grow your own plants in the following year. This in itself is rather annoying and disappointing especially if you end up with a fantastic plant that has given you an amazing crop of tomatoes because you just have no idea as to what to expect in the following year.
Dependence - Finally, and following on from the previous point, you are going to have to buy plants every single year and if you plan on growing a few tomato plants indoors then this is going to start to become quite expensive. When you then consider that you will find it difficult to change varieties due to the restricted options then you can see why a number of people are going to wonder if it really is worth this hassle.
So, what can we conclude from weighing up both sides of this question? Which one is actually best? Growing from seed or growing from seedlings?
In the grand scheme of things, growing from seed is going to be the best option but that does depend on you either already knowing how to grow from seed and getting them to germinate or if you are willing to spend the time learning and purchasing the equipment.
However, the reason why we have decided on seeds is simply because of the varieties that you can then choose from and the fact that you can harvest seeds and grow the same plants in the following year with you hopefully achieving the same results. There is also a greater sense of pride in that you have been able to achieve this all on your own and, to be perfectly honest with you, growing from seed is not as difficult as you may think. All you need is the correct equipment and the patience to wait for things to germinate and you are going to be richly rewarded.
So, if you need to pick from either, then seed is the better long term option, but if you are afraid of doing this then clearly seedlings will still work just they will tend to be of a slightly inferior quality to what you may have had from the seed varieties. At the end of the day, it comes down to your own personal preference and your ability to turn them into impressive plants that produce a healthy crop of tomatoes no matter which option you opt for.