5 Tips to Ordering Seeds

The arrival of seed catalogs in the dead of winter is such pure joy for these two sisters that we believe it should be a holiday!  Dee and I had our first annual Seed Celebration in February 2018, where we discussed the previous years’ gardens, and enjoyed some snacks and libations.  Oh yeah, we also hatched the plan to start this blog!  Definitely seems like an annual tradition to us.

In honor of our new, totally made up holiday, we bring to you The Top 5 Ways to Succeed When Ordering Seeds…

Order seed catalogs from similar climates as you

This year we ordered from Seed Treasures, Bakers Creek and Johnny Seeds.  Dee is a zone 4b, while I am a zone 2, so many of the plants we want, we can both grow.  Seed Treasures is a newer seed catalog company that it is located near me way up north.  Bakers Creek is located in Missouri, so a bit south for both of us, but they have such an extensive catalog with fantastic descriptions that we know we are selecting seeds that are properly suited for our respective regions.  Lastly, Johnny seeds is out of Maine, which is a similar climate as our, and had a few unusual seeds we wanted to try this year.

Order your seeds early

Gardening is a great passion for a procrastinator (we are both sheepish members!) because it is full of firm deadlines…the only thing that motivates me, that’s for sure!  It is important to know your seed ordering date, here are some questions to help you figure it out:

  • Figure out what the first plant you need to start is: For me it is: Peppers
  • Find out when your seed needs to be started:  Peppers need to be started 12 weeks before last frost date
  • Order your seeds a month before that date: my last frost date is 6/15, so would need to plant 3/25, so order 2/24

Select the right seeds

Understand your garden’s needs, for example I look for seeds that are cold hardy, germinate in cold soil and can tolerate frost, as my zone 2 garden can get a frost every month of the year.  I also look for quickly maturing veggies due to my 53 day growing cycle.

Understand the terminology

Here is a quick list of essential terms that should get you started.  Keep in mind, you can just google anything you don’t understand.

  • Determinant: grows as a bush and generally it ripens in a short window of time.
  • Indeterminate: grows as a vine and ripens over the whole season
  • Open pollinated: pollinated by nature; if you save that seed and plant it next year, you will get the same plant.
  • Hybrid: typically pollinated by people to get a desirable trait; if you plant the seed next year, you have no idea what the +plant will be like
  • Self-pollinated: plants have male and female parts and do not need another plant to produce offspring; great for small gardens
  • Heirloom: all heirlooms are open pollinated plants that people have saved and shared for generations
  • Parthenocarpic: plants do not require pollination; great for greenhouses.

Store the seeds correctly

Some seeds will last decades, even a century if stored properly.  But for these purposes, let’s aim at keeping seeds until we use the whole pack.  Store your packs in a cool, dark, dry place.  Always do a germination test on your saved seeds before ordering any new seeds, so you know if any need to be replaced.  To do a germination test, simply put some seeds on a moist paper towels and place in a plastic bag that you keep in a warm spot of your house.  Keep the paper towels moist and check daily to see if the seeds have sprouted.  Seeds can take anywhere form a couple days to a couple of weeks to germinate.  If none or only some of the seeds germinate, you will need to replace your pack.

Remember to savor the experience as you browse the catalogs and dream about all of the colors, flavors and smells described in those pages!  Better yet, turn it into a holiday like these two sisters did!

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