5 Tips For Choosing Seeds For Your Vegetable Garden - Backyard Boss
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5 Tips For Choosing Seeds For Your Vegetable Garden

While it is not quite yet time to plant seeds in your garden–unless you are container gardening indoors–it is a good time to think about how you should choose seeds for your vegetable garden. Now, it’s no secret that successful gardening begins with good seeds, so what are the best ways to organize, plan, and shop when looking for crops to grow this year?

While it may seem like a simple and straightforward process, there is a lot of thought that goes into planning your future garden. Find the top three tips for choosing seeds for your vegetable garden to ensure the planting process goes off without a hitch!

Get Organized

Organizing vegetable seeds
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Before you can start shopping around for new seeds, you need to go through what you already own! There is no point in wasting perfectly good seeds, so be sure to sift through seeds from last season. Don’t forget to check dates on packages to ensure they are not expired.

When it comes to organization, make sure all of your seeds are clearly labeled and separated based on when they expire. You can even organize them based on when you should plant them to make planning your garden even easier. This way, you’ll know exactly what you have for each month of planting so you don’t end up over-purchasing.

Gather Your Information

Before starting anything you’ll want to find out when the first predicted frost in your area will be, as well as, what zone you live in.

If you are growing during winter or before the last predicted frost, you can sow seeds in containers indoors or in a greenhouse. Veggies you can grow inside during the cooler months include root vegetables, tomatoes, salad greens, and herbs.

After the last predicted frost, you can plant greens and root veggies outside in raised garden beds, containers, or directly in your garden. When fall comes around and the temperatures cool down, plant salad greens such as kale and chard, brassicas like cauliflower and broccoli, and root crops like carrots. They’ll be ready for a spring harvest!

Test Your Seeds

Person pouring seeds in a child's hand
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Say you have an junk draw full of old seeds — what should you do with them?

If you’re not sure if your seeds are still good, do a germination test. Using separate containers for each variety, fill a bowl with warm water and place the seed in for about one to two days. If the seed floats to the top, it is not viable. If you think other seeds in the pack may be okay, you can do this process again a few days before you intend to plant. Toss the seeds that float and immediately plant those that don’t!

Make a List (Check it Twice)

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After you’ve gone through your seeds, it is time to decide which ones you still need. Consider the space you have, your favorite varieties, and pollinators you’ll want to attract, to plan how you will fit everything into your garden. Determine when to plant and harvest different vegetables so you know what you’ll have in your garden at what time of year.

When leafing through the catalog to choose new seeds, look at the care each vegetable requires. Consider where you’ll plant them and if you can provide the right conditions. This way you can also determine what plants will go best near one another. You’ll want to look for seeds that do well as companion plants, such as tomatoes and basil.

Growing seeds you’ve grown before that you know perform is always a great option. There are a number of commonly high performing veggies perfect for beginners, such as lettuce, green beans, and peppers. Choose veggies that you like to eat and consider how much you’ll actually end up consuming. Growing veggies that aren’t commonly sold at the store, such as tomatillos, is a great way to expand your palate.

Time to Buy

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Ordering seeds early in the winter before they sell out is the best way to ensure you have your garden planned and ready to go for spring. Always shop from a trusted source, such as garden centers, local farmers, and well-known catalogs.

When shopping, look for open-pollinated seeds, which grow exactly like their parent plants. This means you’ll always know exactly what you’re getting. They can also be hybrids if they are cross-pollinated with another open-pollinated plant. A seed packet labelled hybrid is intentionally created, but the next generation of plants will not grow the same.

Genetically modified seeds are bio engineered and cannot occur naturally. Since there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding GMOs and potential health risks, it is best to steer clear of these seeds.

Storing Garden Seeds

Garden table with seeds envelopes
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No matter how well you plan your garden, you might have leftover seeds at the end of the season. Of course, you can also source seeds from the plants in your garden, which you’ll want to keep until next year. Plus, it is important to properly store your seeds until it is time to plant to maintain their shelf life.

You can store loose seeds in seed envelopes, jars, and air tight containers. No matter how you choose to store your seeds, you should always keep them in a cool and dry location.

Seedsational!

Whether you want to get a head start on the growing season, grow a few winter crops this year, or plan ahead for next year’s garden, organizing and buying new seeds is the first place to start. The seeds you plant make your garden, so it is crucial to use healthy, fresh seeds, but you also need to plan carefully to ensure everything you buy will fit!

Do you have any tips for choosing seeds for a vegetable garden? Share in the comments below!

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