GARDENING: Are seeds really cheaper?

Spring is around the corner, and if you are a gardener like me, you have had your "garden senses tingling" for weeks now. And as many gardeners like me, have had your "gardening budgets" cut yet again from the family bean counter! So what to do!? How can you achieve gardening bliss with shoestring budgets? The answer for me the past few years has been seeds. But as I began thinking last night (I had plans to pick up seeds today) is it really cheaper for the effort? I started working numbers in my head, and then I had a hunch. SO I began really working some numbers on paper, and I was very surprised at what I arrived at. Below is my number work up.

But I have to couch this by saying, I am working on averages. Depending on coupons, sales and deals in catalogs and online stores, these numbers will change dramatically. This is also based on "urban" pricing that I suffer through. Some of you out there are not subjected to Mayor Daley's taxes, so you might get better savings. The other thing is that seed packets have countless seeds. If you can find room and planting material to plant more, go for it. Your price for the effort goes down on how much yield you can muster. Also, more unique plants might cost more at the nursery versus starting from seeds. In that case, seeds are the way to go. If you start perennials from seed, you will save as well. Typically, a perennial starter plant is $2-$3 a plant at a nursery. But apples to apples with run-of-the-mill annuals-I can't believe I am saying this-it's almost a wash.

72 cell starter kit-$19.99 retail (I found it on amazon at 12.99-a big difference)
1 packet of seeds average $2.00
2 cells per packet =12 packets (12 plants per type)
12 x $2.00 = $24.00
*benefit-(seed investment can be used towards next year's crop)
* Can get more savings if you can fit two plants in each cell and split them in transplant mode
144 plants, Grand Total= $63.98

REALLY FROM SCRATCH HOME GROWN SEEDS :(way cheaper but labor intensive)
Sterilized seed starting soil, 3 bags, average $7.00 each= $21.00 total
12 packets seeds = $24.00
Grow lights: tabletop $130.00-$250.00 (a one time investment)
*benefit-(seed investment can be used towards next year's crop as well as grow light)
*investment not limited to 144 plants, if you have extra, keep going!
Around 144 plants, Grand Total: $45.00 (without grow light investment)

6 cell pack flats=48 plants, average retail $17.99
3 flats, 144 plants, Grand Total =$ 53.97



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