When you start thinking about what’s in store for your garden over the next few months, you may find yourself poring over The Rare Seed Catalog, scanning every page deliberately as you dream of what’s to come. Although this certainly is one way to do it, a trip to the garden center nearest you for seed selection can be just as much fun. Whichever method you use to secure your seeds aside, they all have one thing in common, and that is that decisions must be made regarding what you intend to plant and with what type of seeds.
When you have a bunch of seed options in front of you, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. It is also easy to lose your train of thought when confronted with so many seed options; in there somewhere is sure to be something you had not yet thought of or may have forgotten about but still wish to incorporate. At times like this, having a garden plan is useful, but even more useful than that is a seed selection plan that outlines the type of seeds you want to plant and how they correlate with what your ultimate gardening goals are.
The first thing to consider is whether you intend to grow organic or conventional veggies. Many gardeners strive to grow organic but fail to realize it takes more than simply purchasing organic seeds to do so. Growing organic involves much more than tossing organic seeds in some soil and waiting for them to grow; there are actually strict standards to which gardeners must adhere. If you do not have certified organic soil to start with and will be adding components that are not 100% organic such as pesticides, purchasing organic seeds is not going to yield you organic vegetables. In cases such as this, it may save time and heartache to forgo organic seeds until you are able to fully establish an organic garden where those seeds can thrive. This is especially true for new gardeners as organic seeds can be tougher to work with than conventional ones which allow a greater learning curve.
Another important decision that must be made regarding seeds is whether you want to go with hybrid or heirloom. Hybrids are mixed breed plants created through cross-pollination to establish a plant that has more beneficial characteristics. This may sound a lot like a GMO, but in truth there is nothing genetically modified about it; in fact, cross-pollination occurs in the natural world thanks to wind and bees. Heirlooms on the other hand are true to seed, old-fashioned plant varieties that have been carefully passed down over time. In a taste comparison, heirloom veggies will likely win hands down, but they are not always the easiest to grow. They lack disease resistance and that alone can mean little to no veggies to harvest despite the painstaking effort put into them, making them not necessarily a friend of the beginning gardener.
One more issue that plays a role in seed selection is the growing season in which you live. Each growing zone experiences different temperature fluctuations that greatly impact when and how veggies are grown as well as the seeds you buy. Take note of the amount of time seeds require to reach maturity and how that corresponds with your growing season. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still grow items that require a long season if what you have is a short season, but you will have to start those seeds indoors. Since this also takes time, planning your seed selection and seed starting in advance to pull it off is also necessary.
Ultimately there is not much we can’t accomplish in the veggie garden if we take the right steps to get there. By taking into consideration what you want to get out of your garden and making plans to achieve your goals, gardening success can be had by all. Don’t forget to check expiration dates and be sure to choose seeds that work with your space, growing season, and accommodate them as needed to get the veggies you crave.