How to Choose Seeds


When choosing seeds for the garden, it is important to remember that what you purchase is what you will get.  If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is and you should look elsewhere for your seeds.  So how do you know if what you are purchasing is truly what you want?  That is a great question and here are some tips to help you know how to choose the best seeds.

  • Remember to invest in quality, rather than quantity.  Seeds of a higher quality will give you the best results.  Often cheap seeds are available in greater quantities.  But remember that they are just that–cheap seeds.  Higher quality seeds may cost more initially, but will give you more for your investment.
  • Only purchase seeds that have been packaged for the current growing season.  If you are looking at seeds that were packaged for a previous growing season, have they been tested within the past 6 months?  If this information is not readily available on the seed packet, then do not buy it.  Look for another brand of seed that does list this information instead.
  • Choose seeds that match your needs.  Most seed packages include information on starting dates, germination times and growing conditions.  Know what your needs are.  If you live in place that has a colder climate, understand that you will not be able to effectively grow a plant that requires tropical conditions.
  • Check for the germination percentage.  The higher the percentage number, the more likely that the seeds will sprout and grow.  Choose seeds that provide this information to you.  Keep in mind that some seeds are more difficult to start than others.  But a higher germination percentage will equal greater success.

Now that you know what to look for when purchasing your seeds, what are you planning to grow in your garden this year?  We would love to hear what you are interested in growing.

Which Seed Catalog to Choose From?

I might have a problem! I started requesting seed catalogs in the mail, to help me in selecting the perfect collection of seeds for my garden. Wow! I didn’t think that it would be so overwhelming, because I didn’t realize how many I had requested. What do I do now? Toss them all together, throw them up in the air, and whichever lands in my hands are the ones I order from. However, I don’t know if I could get that many catalogs in the air at one time.

That might be a silly way of going about it, but it could work. However, may I suggest another approach? Let’s start with a plan: a plan of the garden. How large of a space is going to be your garden? Do you want it to be small enough just to enjoy the harvest throughout the season, or do you want to plant enough to can or freeze your bounty?

Have an idea of what you want to plant from seed and what you will be planting from actual live plants. Normally, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, and broccoli are vegetables that you would plant live sets or plants into the ground. Beans, peas, carrots and other root crops, corn, also lettuces and other leafy greens will be planted directly in the soil by seed. I realize this is a condensed list of vegetables, so more information might be needed about which method is correct for the vegetable you may want to plant.

Order the seeds that you want to plant in your garden. However, I have never ordered live vegetable plants for home delivery, and this service is available, but I just don’t know though–I have seen how packages are handled and delivered…you make that decision. I am going to start some of my seeds indoors, ahead of time, but I will be getting some of the plants from the local greenhouse in town.

It has been funny to see what people insist on planting in their garden and why they plant certain vegetables. For some, it might be for the simple fact that they remember their parents or grandparents planting those vegetables. For others, it might be that they don’t quite understand what will be produced. I remember talking with one excited family about what they had planted. While I was working in a garden center, they called to ask about how soon they could expect zucchini from the plants that had just germinated and were pushing up through the soil. As I reported that it would be several weeks before they could be tempted to pick their produce, I ask how many plants they planted. They reported that they had planted a 20ft row with seeds about 6 inches apart. I wished them good luck and locked my doors. If you don’t like how beets taste, don’t plants beets just because your mother and father did. Know what you want to plant and how those plants will produce.

Know when the average last frost date for your area is. I currently live in planting USDA Zone 4, average last frost date in that area is around the 20th of May. Call your local County Extension Agent for the correct date, or check with your favorite garden center. By knowing this date, it will help you with what you can plant outside safely. But remember that this is an average date. The last freeze can happen before and also after this date.

Back to the catalogs; the options and selections that you can choose from can be mind boggling. Where does one begin? What do you choose? How much do you order? Oh the questions! Maybe this is why the catalogs get tossed in the air. All companies offer similar seed choices, yet some seeds are exclusive. You will look at the catalogs and not realize there are so many varieties to choose from for planting green beans, or corn, even radishes have a lot of differences. Compare the harvest dates, check to see if the seeds germinate in cool soils or do you have to wait until the first of June. Read, Read, Read.

If you haven’t received any garden seed catalogs in the mail, and you are feeling left out, you can actually do a search on the internet for FREE SEED CATALOGS and start requesting. Over the years, I have had experience and great success with Henry Fields, Gurney’s Seed, Burpee Seeds, Johnny’s Select Seeds, Thompson and Morgan, and several other companies. This year I am trying a new company called Territorial Seed Company out of Oregon. If you request their current edition of catalog and find out that it is gone, most of them have their own website to browse and select seeds from.

The list and possibilities seem endless. Just think of the conversations that could be started when you bring to the local church potluck, a purple carrot salad, stripped pickled beets, or a seedless tomato salad. Have I got your interest yet?

Gardening Tips I Found in My Grandma’s Cupboard

Last year, we began the process of moving into my grandparent’s home and there is still a lot of remodeling to do, both on the inside as well as the outside. It is amazing the things you find while undertaking such a project! Although my kitchen looks much different now, than it does in this picture, I still thought you might enjoy reading a little gardening gem I found in my Grandma’s cupboard.

So, what did I find? I found some old gardening tips taped inside her old cupboards. Now, I don’t know whether to necessarily recommend these tips or not, but they are fun to read. I do know that Grandma always had beautiful plants.

Here are the tips I found:

Treatment of gladiolas in spring

Peel and soak bulbs with 2 TB Lysol to 1 Gallon Water. Soak 1 hour to overnight.

In the fall, dig and dry bulbs. Sprinkle generously with Seven Dust. Put in storage (cool). DO NOT FREEZE.

Amaryllis Bulbs

After the blooms have faded, the stalk should be cut off 2 inches above the bulb. But do not disturb the foliage. Keep the pot moist and leaves growing until the Amaryllis can be planted outside.

After all danger of frost in the spring, put the bulb—pot and all—into the ground, buried up to the top edge of the rim of the pot. Remove the dried leaves. Nutrients found in fish emulsion or bone meal are excellent when used at the manufacturer’s recommended amounts. No blooms will occur during late spring and summer, only leaves. This is the time when the flower bud is formed within the bulb.

Around September 1st or just preceding anticipated frosts in your area, lift the pot. Scrape excess planting mix from the top of the pot, and store in a dry, cool (40? to 55? F.) place. DO NOT WATER. Approximately 6 weeks before blooms are desired, remove old leaves and move pot to growing temperatures of 65? to 75? F., and begin to water. Then keep moist at all times. After the Amaryllis blooms, repeat the cycle as before.

Christmas Tree Saver

1 Gallon water

6 TB sugar

6 Aspirin, crushed

Green food coloring

Cut ½ inch from the bottom of tree. Shave bark and cambreum off the depth of water. Keep watered at all times.

If you use any of these, let me know how they worked. I would be interested in knowing how it worked out for you. If you have any other old tried and true gardening tips, leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear about them.