Seed: How to Choose Seeds for Growers

choosing seeds for growersSeed is, by far, one of our most important choices when we consider a vegetable garden or a flower garden. The quality of the seed is not to be taken lightly. As we touched upon in our last article, Garden Reading, there are a lot of things to consider. Some of those seed catalogs seem to need decoding. (Jane Jensen provides expert explanation of this in the Living Garden Series.)

And, here let me add, I’m not only speaking to everyone who plants seed, but to those who grow from seed and plants, as many of us do. Many of us grow herbs from seeds. Growing tomatoes from seed is probably the easiest way to diversify your garden.  Knowing what qualities to look for when choosing either is very important.

If you plan on ordering seed, it won’t take long to realize there’s no way to limit yourself to one seed catalog. Once they begin to arrive, others will soon follow. Quite contrary from being annoying, this is a most pleasurable experience. Many of those catalogs contain a wealth of information. Having the chance to compare all the different varieties, as well as comparing price, makes for a pleasant way to spend a few spare moments.
As you browse through a seed catalog, look for a section of catalog product descriptions, sometimes called “terminology”. This is like a “key” to decoding what the various numerals and characters mean when they’re included in plant descriptions, which usually accompany a photo. Some catalogs even go so far as to use “graphics” and/or symbols. All of these can help influence your choice of plant variety. If you want to increase your own herb production, look for special catalogs with herb seeds for sale, like Nichols Garden Nursery.

The next thing you need to know is information concerning your hardiness zones. These are often called “growing zones” and they’re very important when it comes to choosing seeds or plants. Someone on the southern tip of Florida will have a drastically different climate than someone from Minnesota. Each gardener will have certain circumstances to take into consideration. Proper seed selection is key to success.

For example, should a Florida gardener consider planting cabbage, they may need to be concerned with providing shade or even a cooling mist for their cabbages or other cool weather vegetables. Their gardening situation will mean choosing seed for a cabbage variety that’s slow to “bolt” as the weather warms. As far as growing cool weather crops, their growing season is a short one. They may want to choose  fast growing seeds that matures earlier, so it will be out of the garden before hotter weather arrives.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota gardener needs to be more concerned with choosing seed for cabbage varieties that will survive an unexpected cold snap. They need the seed from a hardier variety. Their growing season is going to be longer than one experienced in Florida, so a cabbage that matures slower may yield greater benefits. It may grow larger, or be sweeter in flavor or crisper in texture. Seed savers select for these characteristics.

So, how do you choose seed for a plant variety that does well in your area? One of the very best ways is to visit with a local grower. Get to know them well enough to ask about their gardening experiences. Chances are, they’ll be glad to answer your questions. They may be able to direct you to the best seed bank for your area.
Another way is to search the internet. For instance, you might try typing in “Florida Vegetable Production”. This may give you a wealth of information concerning what grows in Florida. The same holds true of any other State. “Minnesota Vegetable Production” may yield clues as to what grows best there. Select seed for those varieties.
Seeds are an important consideration. Serious gardening requires serious seeds.

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