Don’t make this mistake when you buy vegetable plants

tomato seedlings where to buy vegetable plants

At the local Garden Expo one winter, while chatting with some fellow gardeners, they mentioned their terrible luck with peppers the previous year – their fruit didn’t ripen to red. I immediately asked them what variety they grow.

They looked at each other and shrugged, We don’t know. We just bought starts from our local big box store.

We all have times when we cut corners in the garden. But, buying vegetable starts is not the place to do so. When I was a beginning gardener I thought all varieties of one vegetable were pretty much the same.

Especially things like broccoli, cabbage, and orange carrots, since there’s not much observable difference between the varieties. I would just go to the local store selling seeds and seedlings and buy a handful of what looked good. I often had mixed results and wasn’t sure why.

It wasn’t until I started working on vegetable farms that I realized how much time and effort growers put into selecting varieties that perform well in their fields. All broccoli, cabbage, and carrot varieties are not equal.

Variety does matter.

lettuce seedlings and where to buy plants

Don’t Make This Mistake When You Buy Vegetable Plants

What variety you choose to grow in your garden can mean the difference between success and failure. This means that where you buy your plants from matters a lot since it will dictate which varieties you have access to.

So, where should you buy your vegetable plants?

From a local vegetable farmer.

Vegetable farmers are experts at growing food and they choose which varieties they grow with a lot of deliberation. Because they grow vegetables as a business, they only grow plants that produce a reliable and tasty harvest each year.

Buying plants for your garden from someone who is growing those same varieties with success in your area means they’re more likely to produce a bumper crop for you, too. You can also ask the farmer questions, get growing tips, and even ask for her own personal favorites.

In spring in my area, many vegetable farmers can be found selling plant starts at the local farmers markets. There are also several farms that have large plant sales right around our last frost date. Take a look around and you might find the same is true for your area, too.

peppers seedlings and where to buy vegetable plants

Stay away from the big box store when it comes to buying vegetable plants! The seedlings sold there are not necessarily selected to do well in your local climate.

The variety you purchase might be more acclimated to a garden in Texas than one in Wisconsin. Those are two very different worlds.

You might save a few bucks at the big box store, but it won’t be worth it if the variety isn’t one that will produce a harvest for you.

Many days pass between when we tuck a seedling into the ground to harvest time. Gardening is quite an investment in time, so it’s worth the effort to seek out varieties that are more likely to succeed in your local conditions.

This year, rethink where to buy your vegetable plants. Take a trip to your local farmers market, seek out a vegetable farmer, and ask questions about the varieties they’re selling before you buy them. When you put in this extra effort I bet you’ll experience a higher level of success in your garden as a result.

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