Here at the Almanac, we love to cozy up with some good garden seed catalogs, especially in the winter months when we start planning for the upcoming gardening season. Here are some tips on ordering garden seeds.
- Obtain catalogs from companies located in your part of the world as well as from distant businesses, and compare their offerings and prices. Some of the small regional seed sources carry heirlooms and special varieties best suited to your area. We’ve posted some mail-order seed sources here.
- Before you order, contact your local county cooperative extension service office and ask about varieties that are known to do well in your area. Discuss any specific problems you’ve had with pests or disease.
- Make a list of what you’d like to grow, but check it twice before you order. A pause or two will give you a chance to change your mind. Remember that the garden is actually one-quarter the size you think it is.
- Plan to buy enough seeds to sow them thickly. Inevitably, you’ll suffer some losses (bugs, birds, weather), and you can always thin later if you end up with an excess.
- Pay careful attention to the number of days to maturity included in every catalog description. If your growing season has 85 predictable frost-free days, chances are you won’t harvest a watermelon that needs 120 days to ripen. See Frost Charts.
- Avoid discounted seeds sold at chain stores. They probably haven’t been stored under ideal conditions, and you may find germination to be spotty.
Show me your garden and I will tell you what you are.
–Alfred Austin (1835–1913)