If you're mailbox is anything like ours, it is likely bursting full of seed catalogs. Each year we save the seed catalogs until January, sort out our favorites, and set aside a night to select the best for the coming growing season. Despite the excitement of looking through the mouthwatering photos of next years potential crops, choosing the perfect seeds can be a bit overwhelming.
So, besides choosing seeds based on the prettiest picture, what things are important to consider when selecting seeds?
Choose Seeds that Will Grow in Your Area
When selecting seeds that will grow in your area, consider your agricultural zone as well as the length of your growing season. You can determine the length of your growing season, by finding the number of days between the average last frost and average first frost. Use this information to determine whether the seeds you are selecting will grow in your zone, keeping in mind that many yards have small micro climates that will allow you some flexibility in what you can grow. If you have 100 days in your growing season, don't buy melons that take 130 days to ripen.
Choose Seeds that You Will Eat or Like how They Look
This seems obvious, but so often we manage to buy some seed that we don't actually like to eat. If you are willing to invest money, time, and space into growing a crop from seeds start by choosing your favorite foods and make sure to steer clear of those that are so-so.
Choose Things that Taste better Fresh
If you can only grow a limited number of seeds, select crops that taste better fresh. Tomatoes are the perfect example of a mediocre grocery store purchase compared to the mouth watering varieties from the garden.
Consider Heirloom, Organic, and Non-Genetically Engineered Seeds
Look for seed companies that have signed the safe-seed pledge and are selling seeds that have not been genetically engineered. By choosing to grow heirloom, organic, or just non-genetically modified crops, you are supporting green practices and the small companies that are selling open-pollinated vegetables, fruit and flower seeds. If you are looking for a list of seed companies, check out the organic seed finder site from AOSCA.
Create a Seed Sharing Group
So often we are interested in growing just a few of each variety in our garden, yet even the smallest seed packets can have hundreds of seeds. Get together with others in your area, and share your seeds to increase the number of varieties for your own backyard.
Keep a Record of What you Like
This year I am making the pledge to record everything I plant, how it grows and where I put it. Knowing what worked well last year is incredibly important when you sit down to plan your next years garden (as I'm being reminded of right now). Keep in mind that some year crops just fail, so give your seeds at least a few years before you give up, and choose another variety.
What else do you consider when selecting seeds for the coming year?