Walking into a garden center one can be overwhelmed by all the seed choices on display. How does a gardener know what to buy? Decide on what your family likes to eat and go from there. It’s no point growing something the children won’t eat. Choose fun seeds for your child to plant with you. Large seeds like those of beans, peas and squash are large enough for children to plant easily. If they help grow the plant there is a better chance they will eat the vegetable.
When you look at a package of seeds, there is a lot of information on the package. For example, the package above tells you that it’s a yellow pear tomato. The back of the package should contain all the growing information needed to grow the seed from planting depth to the time of year you should plant. The package will also says how many seeds are in the package. This is important as seed quantity varies from package to package. I bought some sweet pea seeds last week. One kind had 65 seeds and the other had only 35 seeds. Sometimes the more specialized or rarer the seed is, the less seed you will get in the package. Above you can see this package had 50 yellow pear tomato seeds in it. Each seed will grow one plant. Often we can’t use up all the seed in one year but seeds can be kept in cold storage and used for several years. Over the years viability or the percentage of seeds that will germinate will decrease. Try to buy seeds with a friend so you don’t have to store seeds for many years. You will also notice the days to harvest on this package. It says it will take from 75-80 days until you harvest a tomato. Think about your summer. Is it long enough to grow this tomato to maturity? Perhaps you should look for a short season tomato instead. You will also notice the year of 2000 on this package. Yes, it’s an old photo but dates are still on packages. This is the year the seed was packaged.
Here are a few more seed packages from my stash. It’s hard to see but if you look to the right hand corner at the bottom of the description one package says OP and the other says F1. The lettuce seeds are open pollinated meaning that if you let the lettuce plant bolt and flower you could collect seed to use the following year that would be just like what you grew. The onions on the other hand are F1 or a hybrid seed. This means this seed came from two different parents and the offspring from collected seeds would be different from what you grew before. If you are a seed collector you would want to buy open pollinated seeds so you can use them from year to year. That’s not to say hybrid seeds won’t grow. You may get a different colour or shape of vegetable. After all the time it takes to grow the vegetable, you may want to save seeds you know will come true.
Let’s look at flower seeds. Most flower seeds have all the growing information on them. As I look at the selection above I can see the weights with three of them having 5 grams of seeds in them and one with 2 grams. What is 5 grams? Okay I won’t be weighing them but if you look at the moist soil blend you will see a count of 1470 seeds. Wow! That’s a lot of seed and most likely the other blends will be pretty close. Of course, seeds vary in size so that would make your seed count less.
Have I confused you even more? Try browsing for seeds and then researching them online or in books. It’s good to find out as much as you can about the seeds you want to try before you buy them. Check out seed catalogues as they are a wealth of information. Some seeds need darkness to germinate. I usually lay a sheet of newspaper over seeds that require this. Once the seeds germinate they need light. Other seeds may benefit from an overnight soaking in a shallow dish of water. By finding out as much as you can about the seeds you want to grow will ensure you have a successful harvest.