Plant or transplant

I’m planning to plant some seeds outdoors in the heart of continental Europe. Some friends of mine told me that I should germinate the seeds first before planting them outdoors. We have some wild plants growing nearby, and when the mornings were still freezing cold, I saw some seedlings already coming out of the ground. Wouldn’t it be better to just plant the seeds 1/4-inch deep in the ground and let nature take its course? Last year I saw wild plants as tall as 15 feet and they all grew naturally. The bottom line question is: plant or germinate first?
Kossuth, Hungary

Hemp is feral in Hungary. It has escaped from the cultivated fields and has become a common weed throughout the country. The seed of the feral plants that have been evolving for a number of generations is much smaller than the cultivated seed and is pointed and oval, sort of like a caraway seed without the curve. The reason is that the plant puts energy into creating more smaller seeds rather than only a few plump ones. These plants have adapted over generations in many other ways, too. They mature before the killing frost and the seeds can withstand the winter chill and germinate in the cool spring.

The varieties that you are planning to grow may not be adapted to Hungary’s springs and may grow slowly until the temperature rises. Another problem with planting early in the ground is that there is a low rate of germination because of environmental stresses and microbial attacks.

You could wait until the temperature reaches 68?F (20?C) before planting. The seeds should be planted about a half-inch deep and the ground should be kept moist because dry soil can kill the sprout. Most gardeners find it easier to start seeds in planting containers and transplant them once they have developed a bit.

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