One of the best things about home gardening is getting to choose, and watch, what you grow.
Just like that elementary school experiment that turned beans into sprouts, there’s nothing cooler than watching seeds you start at home spring to life. Although purchasing transplants from a garden store might seem easier, when you start with seeds you have the option to choose from organic, sustainable sources and you’ll find a whole slew of varietals, greatly expanding the biodiversity in your own garden.
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to choosing seeds: location, goals and seed characteristics. Go through this checklist, then use the resources we’ve listed below to find the most optimal seeds for your home garden.
Understanding your climate is fundamental to choosing seeds that will flourish in your garden. Consider the average temperatures and humidity where you live. Do your plants need to be cold-hardy or is your climate warmer, subtropical even? Is it humid or more arid? Using the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help you determine which plants are ideal for your area and is a great tool when looking at seeds
As you explore seed options, there are several other factors you have to consider. If you are interested in seed saving — saving seeds to use for the next year — you’ll want to look for open-pollinated seeds, or seeds that will produce a plant very similar to the parent. Heirloom seeds are an example of open-pollinated varieties that have been saved and passed down through generational and community sharing.
If your main goal is high-yield growing, F1 Hybrids, hybrids that have been cross-pollinated to be stronger and grow faster, might be a good choice. Other characteristics to think about include seeds that are resistant to specific pests; seeds that hold up better in storage; and seeds for early-, mid- or late-season harvests.
While there are many seed companies to choose from, there are several organic, non-GMO companies that offer a diverse selection of vegetable, herb and flower seeds. Although all of these seed companies ship nationwide, some of them carry varietals that thrive in particular regions.
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