Container gardening with seeds

Hi,
I am really starting out gardening new. I would like to start decorating the patio with containers. I live in California. I have following questions:
1. Is it a wrong time of the year to start? 2. I would love to grow plants from seeds, rather than buying the plants and re-potting them. Can I sow seeds in the container directly? Or do I have to grow elsewhere first? 3. Any suggestions for beautiful flower plants that I can grow from seeds and have bloom soon, in fall/winter?
Thanks a lot. Any pointer to web site or book will be great too.
Uday
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Spring is much better time to approach this, as you will have a much larger selection of plants to choose from, but you can also start cool weather annuals from seed now. I'd go with something like pansies or violas - they germinate quickly from seed and prefer the cooler weather of fall and mild winters. You can direct sow these into containers, but don't overdo and make sure the containers are sufficiently large enough to accomodate them without drying out too fast. If you can find seeds of Nemesia or Schizanthus or even sweet peas, these will also offer a long bloom season in cooler weather in mild climates.
An advantage of buying starts at your local garden center rather than starting all from seed is that you can combine multiple types of plants in a pleasing color combination with draping groundcovers or ivy to have a much more visually appealing presentation. Look for something larger and bold for a focal point - fall mums, grasses or ornamental cabbages and kales work well with the smaller plants like pansies.
pam - gardengal
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Thanks a lot pam. Yes it is easier to start out with plants, but more satisfying to grow from seeds, I think... I'll try both...
Uday

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On 26 Aug 2004 15:52:38 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Udayan) wrote:

I had some good luck starting some containers from seed. They took longer to get going, but they did just fine. It is easier with plants, but cheaper with seeds, and I agree that its very satisfying.
Swyck
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.com wrote:

The best way to start containers is to start the plants separately. Get (or save) some of the plastic cells you buy plants in and start your seeds in them, one per cell. Seeds are cheap, so start twice as many as you need. When the plants are large enough to transplant pick out the best ones and put them into the container(s). Keep a few for backup in case of transplant shock problems. This method avoids problems with plants germinating at different times and avoids weak plants in the container, which leads to holes in the resulting foliage (at least until the rest of the plants take over).
Plants in cells will be large enough to transplant when the roots fill the plastic cell. This will hold the soil together so it will come out easily. It helps to water the plants in the cell about a half hour before transplanting. This ensures that the water will soak the whole cell and will make it easier to slide the rootball out of the plastic. To see if the rootball fills the cell, water, wait a bit, then tug on the plant stem close to the soil. If it comes out easily, the plants are ready for transplanting. If it breaks off, well that's one reason for you to plant more than you need. With a little experience, you will break off fewer plants.
Many greenhouse operators will seed into really tiny cells (around 1/2" square) and then transplant plants into larger and larger cells (maybe even up to a 5" pot) until they finally assemble a container about two weeks before selling it. The two weeks gives the roots a chance to stabilize the plants in the container. Again, this allows you to pick the strongest plants for the container and gives you the flexibility to change your mind about the container contents right up to the last minute.
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On Mon, 30 Aug 2004 20:46:56 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@nospam.com wrote:

Really? Where do you get container seeds? I need both a variety that grows small, seed-starting pots and another for great big ones I can raise herbs and vegetables in. How do you tell when they're ripe? :-)
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