Seeds and Bulbs have been around forever. And for as long as I can remember they were an essential part of the gardening experience. What’s happened? Over the past ten or so years I have seen a shift in the way people garden. Younger Gardeners (under 35) like to buy instant gardens. You know, the already made up planters to put on their patios, big, fancy coco baskets already made up as well. Tomato plants in patio pots, etc.
The older, more experienced gardeners who always bought their onion sets in March and all the Seed packets with the starter trays, and the bulbs seem to be a dying breed. These were gardeners, real gardeners who started from the ground up, got their hands dirty and truly enjoyed the labor and its successes.
I would hope to see the instant patio gardeners of today turn into the "true" gardeners of tomorrow as they retire from having full time jobs and over scheduled lives. I know there are many of us who have helped our parents and grandparents garden and loved it.
I see part of our gardening industry slowly disappearing from the local garden centers. People won't buy the seeds and bulbs unless they are on sale or at the end of the season when they are just about being given away. This ruins the market. Less and less will be purchased by the retailer, thereby less and less being manufactured by the grower.
Bulbs are a fantastic, generally inexpensive way to get some beautiful, unusual and even exotic looking plants for your yard. Many bulbs you can buy, you cannot get already grown in containers.
Seeds do take more time and care, however they are the least expensive way to get lots of plants. Perennial seeds are great. For 1 packet of seeds (usually less than $3) you'll get plants that come back year after year, spread, and can be divided to share with friends. I harvest seeds from some of my favorite annuals, to have for the following year. Although they are not always the same as the original plant.
Starting seeds are a great project if you have kids. This is the most exciting part of spring at our house. We let the kids pick out their own packet of seeds, we set up a table in the garage for potting them up. It's usually to cold and dreary on the East Coast to do this outside. The kids check them for water every day and when the first seed pops through the surface, you would think it was Christmas! Once its warm enough we plant them. Our 5 year old twins and even the 2 year old have to plant "their" seeds. They care for them and watch them grow, and everyone that comes to our house gets shown the plants. Our children take a great sense of pride in their gardening. I know someday they will probably be instant gardeners when their lives are busy, but someday they will be the "true" gardeners of our future.
We get so caught up in everyday stuff, sometimes we forget to stop and smell the flowers. Gardening is a release for me, a way to let the stress of the daily grind fall away.
Try buying a few packs of seeds or some bulbs and create life. Watching a living thing grow and unfold before you is extremely satisfying and beautiful.