January 4, 2016

Ordering Your Spring Seeds

The holidays are over, and winter stretches long before us, cold and dark. The best way to make winter go faster is to pour over seed catalogs and plan your spring garden.


In the past I've usually waited too long to place my seed order, only to find out that the seeds I want were already out of stock. Some years I go to the farm store and buy what they carry, but there isn't much variety there. This year I'm going to do it the right way: order early!

The first step in ordering seeds is to take inventory of the seeds you have on hand. We all have them, right? Opened, partially-used packets of seeds from last year, the year before, maybe even the year before that.


I divide those packets into three piles: flowers, vegetables and herbs. I'll set the pile of flower seeds aside. I know my energy level, and I rarely plant flower seeds unless they are herbs or if they'll benefit my vegetable plants, or if it's something I can just throw out in an area and let it grow wild like these morning glories that grew up our front fence one year.


I write down the seeds in the herb and vegetable piles, giving me a list of two columns. The packet should have a date on it, so I write that down too. Then the oldest seeds need to go through a germination test.

The seeds that don't pass the germination test are disposed of. I feel a bit of grief doing this, but there is no point in keeping seeds that won't grow.


Next I make a new list of what I want to grow this year. This year it's a long list; since I'm doubling the size of my garden I have twice the space as before. I know what we'll eat and what we don't like. For instance, hubby loves brussels sprouts but I can't stand them; I'll grow a few plants for him though. Corn takes too much space so we don't usually grow it.

I compare this list with the list of seeds I already have that passed the germination test. Now I know what I need to order.


This is the fun part: I get to browse through catalogs and decide which varieties I want to grow. I prefer to look at paper catalogs, but I think every seed company has their catalog online now, if that works better for you. I live in Zone 7b, so I look for varieties that will grow well here. (You can find your plant hardiness zone by entering your zip code at the USDA site.)  I have to deal with hot summers for instance, so I want varieties that can withstand heat. Drought resistance is another plus.

Armed with this information, I can fill out my seed order and order my seeds in a more timely manner this year. And I'll keep my lists in a notebook so I won't have to start from scratch next year.


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26 comments:

  1. Glenda5:21 AM

    Thanks for the reminder to order seeds early.
    Your blog is very much appreciated.

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  2. I'm glad it was helpful, Glenda. Enjoy the seed catalogs.

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  3. I get the vast majority of my seeds at R. H. Shumway. They have a wide selection, lots of heirlooms, and the best prices I've found.

    Fern

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Fern. It's good to have personal recommendations.

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  4. With this being our first garden at our new farm, it's going to be interesting. I did have time to cover the garden with a good load of cow poop and covered it with thick straw. I didn't have time to take soil samples, so I'll see what happens.
    My saved seeds are hiding in a box somewhere. We moved from a larger home and have no space for storage here, so many boxes are unopened and stored in different places.
    Because I'll be starting from scratch, I decided to make my list of veggies, herbs and flowers. I copied all the information and pictures for all seeds being ordered. These will go into protective sleeves and put in a 3-ring binder. Extra seeds (in envelopes) will be stored with the information in the protective sleeves. Hubby measured and drew a diagram of the garden for me. Each bed will be drawn on the diagram, listing what was planted where. This will help me next year so I won't have to remember what was planted where. Also I'll know where all my extra seeds are too. The binder will be stored in my pantry storage room (dark, cool place).
    My order is complete, but it's waiting on the Wish List because one vegetable is on back-order until 1/14. I'll place my order on the 14th so all can be shipped at the same time.
    It sure was a long and exhausting process this year starting from scratch - but it was fun and exciting too.
    Have fun going through your seed catalogs!

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  5. Bobbie, this can certainly be an intense project. I enjoyed reading that you have copied the information for each variety of seed you're ordering. I hope you can find your stash of seeds soon too.

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  6. Doubling your garden? Love that! You've created a very organized system for your seed ordering. I don't usually take the time to test for germination, although I think it's a great idea. No doubt you will be able to get all the seeds you want this year!
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful outdoor post on The Maple Hill Hop!

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  7. Yes, Daisy, I'm doubling the size of my garden this year. Hope I can keep up with it!

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  8. I agree, thank you for the reminder! I need to get started too. I'm in 7b too, and was thinking about putting some potatoes back in the ground sometime this month. I guess they aren't going to plant themselves, though. I have never once been on time with the garden, maybe I can get a little bit closer this year if I order seeds this week.

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  9. Jennifer, you're not alone, I'm usually late too. Let's change that this year.

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  10. Last Saturday I sat down and spent a few hours going through all my seeds and figuring out what I needed to order. I love looking through all the new seed magazines when they come!

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  11. Looking through the seed catalogs is such a fun pastime, isn't it, Tracy?

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  12. Hi Kathi! I ordered my seeds during Black Friday sales. (Who would've thought.) Thanks for the reminder about doing a germination test. Thanks for sharing at My Flagstaff Home!

    Jennifer

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  13. Black Friday seed sales? Really? Wow, Jennifer, you're really organized!

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  14. Oh my soul! Looking through catalogs for seeds as an adult is like looking through the Sears catalog at Christmas when I was a child (I am dating myself). The biggest difference is that I will actually get the things I circle. It is the most fun part of the year!

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  15. I love that analogy, Amanda!

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  16. Last year was our first year with a garden! So, we ordered some seeds from a catalog, some seedlings from a local organic gardener, and some seeds and seedlings from our local garden store. I also got some things from friends. Now we know that we will not eat all those potatoes! No more potatoes for us. And peppers. No more peppers. They just take so long and take so much water that it really isnt' worth it to us. But I learned so much from last year! I learned that I love growing radishes! I love growing sunflowers! I love growing melons and potirons (small squash)! We need to do better on our tomatoes and cucumbers this year. And, I want more marigolds and nasturtium! We've had our catalog for a while now....We haven't ordered yet, but we did see some pumpkins we want to grow. I love having a garden! Its a lot of work but it is so satisfying! Thank you for this post! I need to get busy,...maybe this weekend,...and place my orders!

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  17. Wow, you learned a lot your first year! Good for you! Gardening is wonderful - therapy, physical activity, beauty, creativity and art, and it yields food. :-)

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  18. Looking through seed catalogues is a favorite pastime this time of year. I especially look for heirloom seeds. I like your tips on organizing seeds on hand with seeds desired.

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  19. Thank you, Carol. Don't you love looking at catalogs on a dark winter evening and dreaming of spring?

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  20. I always enjoy perusing seed catalogues, especially on cold winter days! Thank you for sharing with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop, Kathi. You've included some great ideas and tips in this post. I've stumbled, pinned and tweeted it.

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  21. Thank you so much for sharing, April.

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  22. Thank you for linking up with the Hop. i scheduled your post on my FB. :)

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  23. Thank you for sharing, Mama Kautz!

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  24. Yes, I'm looking over the seeds I need this week.

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    Replies
    1. Good for you, Vicki, enjoy browsing and planning!

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