The snow is melting away and it’s time to start planning your garden. If you’re like me – you want to do most of it yourself. From choosing the best seeds to starting your own at home. But if this is your first year gardening – you may not know where to start.
One of the most wonderful things about buying vegetable seeds is that if you do it right, you only have to do it once. Many home gardeners do not realize that if you grow vegetables correctly the first time, you never have to buy seeds again. All you have to do is harvest seeds from your veggies, then save them until the following planting season.
Because of this, it is absolutely critical that you select quality seeds in the first place. If you buy cheap seeds at the Dollar Store, the seeds that you save will not produce the same crop the following year. Furthermore, because the seeds are of poor quality, you may not even get a vegetable harvest at all! To avoid this disappointment, selecting high quality vegetable seeds is crucial.
The first thing that you want to look for when choosing vegetable seeds is the word “heirloom.” Heirloom vegetables are essentially vegetables in their truest form. Heirloom seeds have been passed down through many generations, and are unchanged by GMOs, cross pollination, and hybridization. To get your hands on heirloom seeds, you must specifically look to see that they are designated as “heirloom.”
Most seeds are hybrid seeds, and if the seed packet does not clearly identify that they are heirloom, then you can bet the farm that they are hybrid. Hybrid seeds are much more common. To read more about the difference between hybrid and heirloom seeds, please click here to read A critical look at hybrid fruits and vegetables.
In order to buy seeds only once, then harvest next year’s seeds from your vegetables, you must begin with heirloom seeds. There is no sense in saving seeds from hybrid vegetables, because when you plant them, you have no idea what will grow! You will not receive the same vegetable that you planted in the first place. Choosing heirloom seeds is therefore imperative to beginning a self sustaining and cost efficient vegetable garden.
Once you have selected your seeds, you will need to read all of the information on the seed packets in regards to the vegetables’ soil, sunlight, spacing, and watering needs. Not all veggies are the same, so it is a great idea to draw out a blueprint before dropping your seeds into the ground.
You’ll see that mapping out your garden is the first step necessary. Some vegetables, such as cucumbers, bush beans, and lettuce, grow well in partial shade. It may work best to plant them under a tree branch or trellis where they will receive 4 hours of sunlight each morning, then be shaded during the hottest part of the day.
If you are planning on planting 20 different types of veggies and researching each one sounds painstaking, don’t worry! As I said before, there are detailed instructions in regards to germination, planting, and harvest on each seed packet.
The bottom line when selecting vegetable seeds is to look for high quality, open-pollinated, heirloom seeds. If you select your seeds right the first time, you can continue to plant a vegetable garden each year without ever having to spend money on seeds again.