Both have their pros and cons: seeds are cheaper but not all of them might succeed, seedlings require less work but your selection might be limited... more about it later. If it is your first year gardening I would strongly suggest you get at least half of your plants, if not more, in seedlings. This will give you enough plants to fill up your garden while leaving some time to experiment with seeds.
Which plants to choose for seed starting? Look for easy to sprout annuals and interesting plants that might not be available at your nursery. I have read somewhere that herbs were considered to be difficult to start from seeds but last year I had great success with basil, thyme, cilantro, and parsley. I was also happy to grow lavender and lemon balm from seeds so I recommend you try any of these.
Starting plants from seeds is an exciting process. You can choose from a variety of seeds in the gardening section of your home improvement store or better yet, browse through seed companies websites to find specific plants you would like to grow. The vast selection and the low price of seeds makes seed starting a preferred choice for some gardeners.
Seed starting has several "downsides": first of all it requires some preliminary work - you need to start most of your plants 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area (although lots of gardeners, me included, find a great pleasure in extending the gardening season by almost two months). Not all seeds might germinate successfully - some plants are known to be especially temperamental and seeds that have not been properly stored can die and fail to germinate.
Buying established seedlings is easy and does not require as much prep work as seed starting. Several days before the frost date nurseries and gardening section of home improvement stores stack up on flowering annuals, vegetables, perennials, and herbs. Although seedlings are pricier than seeds, established seedlings have a very high success rate.
The biggest downside of buying seedling is the choice limit - your favourite nursery might carry only plants "popular" in your area and although for the first year or two it might not pose any restriction on your gardening practices, one day you will want to try some new and unusual plants.
Here is a fast summary of pros and cons.
PROs - inexpensive, fun, great selection
CONs - requires extra work, might not be 100% successful
PROs - easy, high success rate
CONs - more expensive, limited choice
If you are planning on starting your plants from seeds do not miss the next GARDENING ADVENTURES post. We'll discuss everything you need to know about seed starting!
A year ago: WEEKEND COLOURS
Two years ago: NEW PROJECT