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You Reap what you Know: A Guide to Seed Selection

Seed SelectionThis is a fun time of year to go to the mailbox! Not only is this the time of year to get caught up with Aunt Edna and her cats-via holiday letter, of course-it is also the time of year that the seed catalogs begin arriving. 

These seed companies are smart. They have us just where they want us, and they know it! Just look at all of those fresh veggies posing so deliciously! Meanwhile, we open another can of green beans for grandma’s “casserole surprise.”  You can almost hear your taste buds collectively groaning. So before you go crazy and order “one of each.” Let’s talk seed strategy – here’s what you need to know.

Know your soil

Soil Testing Kit
Now is the time to send in a soil test (especially if you never have). Your local Extension agent can usually advise you on how to do this successfully. Or keep it simple – test it yourself with one of our handy kits.  Knowing your soil type goes a long way in successful garden planning and seed selection. 

Know your garden

Keeping records and garden notes throughout the years can help you remember what has worked—or not—in the past. Obviously each growing season is different but record keeping is a good way to optimize your production.  Plan your rows, hills, raised beds, etc. ahead of time. I like to use graph paper but there are also computer programs out there for those interested.   Rotate your crops. Rotation is not only good for the soil, it helps control disease pathogens that may be lingering waiting to reemerge when the same crop is planted.

“Bad seed is a robbery of the worst kind: for your pocket-book not only suffers by it, but your preparations are lost and a season passes away unimproved.” -George Washington

Know your seed

Whether you are a master gardener or a novice, learning the pros and cons of the various seeds can help you narrow your wish list. For example, heirloom seed is becoming quite popular. There is something nostalgic about growing seed handed down for generations however these seeds often do not have a natural resistance to disease and pests. Harvests can be less consistent but so flavorful!

  • Days to harvest: Plant seeds throughout the growing season. You want to extend your harvest for as long as possible so do a few plantings to prolong your produce production
  • Determinate vs. indeterminate: Determinate crops generally ripen or mature all right about the same time and are “programmed,” if you will, to have a certain number of fruit. Indeterminate varieties continually produce until environmental conditions will not allow 
  • Symbols for disease resistance: Try to choose seed that is disease resistant. Learn what the letters mean after the seed name. I have listed a few below:Seed Selection
    • V – Verticillium Wilt
    • F – Fusarium Wilt
    • N – Nematodes
    • A – Alternaria Stem Canker
    • T – Tobacco Mosaic Virus
    • St – Stemphylium (gray leaf spot)
    • SWV – Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus
    • LB – Late Blight

The leftovers (and in-laws) are gone. You have done your homework and it’s time to order that seed. Then let Growers Supply help you achieve 100% germination and continued success throughout the season.  We have everything you need to get a jump on your growing season. From trays to Jiffy Grow Blocks to our propagation mats, we are thoroughly prepared to help you grow more in 2012 than you ever have before!

What types of seeds have you had your eye on?  Do you have a favorite seed catalog?  Let us know, leave a comment.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eastsidegardens/5877219501; http://www.flickr.com/photos/ricephotos/4269744737

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. I usually buy my seeds from Kitazawa Seed Co. (http://www.kitazawaseed.com/). Are there any other national companies you would recommend? Also, how long can I keep my left over seeds? (ie should I not use seeds left over from the previous year?)

    December 22, 2011
    • I’ve never tried Kitazawa but it looks like they have a diverse and unique selection. I may try some of those hard to find greens next season, thanks for the great lead!
      In 2011 we tried seed from Ferry-Morse Seed(http://www.ferry-morse.com/ ), Pine Tree Garden Seed(https://www.superseeds.com/ ), American Seed(www.americanseedco.com ), and H.P.S.( http://www.hpsseed.com/ ). We sell Seed Saver’s( http://www.seedsavers.org )seed in our retail store so we always try out some heirlooms. We are also currently working with Johnny’s for a 2012 order(http://www.johnnyseeds.com/ ).
      In regards to your second question about using left over seeds, you generally can get away with keeping seeds from season to season. You may experience a slightly lower germination rate with older seed but there is certainly no reason to not give it a try.

      December 22, 2011

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