How to Order Seeds for Your Vegetable Garden

How to stay organized when ordering vegetable seeds for your garden.

It's never too early to order seeds for your spring vegetable garden.

Winter isn't my favorite season, but it stretches long before us now, cold and dark. One of the best ways to make winter go faster is to pour over seed catalogs and plan your spring garden. Imagining myself planting seeds and nurturing seedlings in the warm spring sunshine is a pleasant way to spend a long winter evening.

I usually wait too long to place my seed order - I'm a great procrastinator - only to find out that the seeds I want are already out of stock. Then I go to the farm store and buy whatever seed packets they happen to have, but there isn't much variety there.

Why not buy started plants instead? Sometimes that's my only alternative - because I even waited too long to start my own seeds! - but then I'm limited to what the nursery decides to grow and sell. I want more for my garden; I want to be in charge of choosing what I'll grow and harvest and eat. So this year I'm going to do it the right way: order my spring seeds early.

This post contains affiliate links; if you click on a link and make a purchase I might make a small commission but it doesn't affect the price you pay. Read my disclosure here.

Start with an inventory

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, and I write them down in three columns. Each seed packet should have date on it - such as "packed for 2019" - 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. They are crossed off of my seed inventory list.

How to figure out what seeds to order for your spring vegetable garden.

Then make a wish list

Next I make a new list of what I want to grow this year.

Tomatoes top the list, of course; tomatoes are the reason I began gardening so many years ago. No grocery store tomato will ever taste as good as a sun-warmed tomato fresh from my own garden. And I'd certainly never find the variety of colors and flavors I want in a grocery store either.

Then I add the staples to my list: carrots, peppers, and all the standard vegetables I grow each year. And finally, the new plants I want to grow this year. Because what's life without a few experiments?

For instance, the Chief loves brussels sprouts but I can't stand them; I want to grow a few plants for him even though I won't eat them. 

But there's never enough room to grow everything, is there? So take your space into consideration, make a plan for succession planting and growing vertically, and decide how many plants of each variety will fit in your garden. You might only have space for 2 or 3 plants of something (like those brussels sprouts, or just two plants each of several different types of peppers).

I compare this information to the list of seeds that passed the germination test, and then I can decide what needs to be ordered.

How do you figure out what seeds to order for your spring garden? Do you order whatever catches your eye, or sounds delicious or fun? Then you end up with a pile of seed packets and no room to plant them all... and you forgot to order carrot seeds. Here's how to stay organized when planning and ordering your vegetable garden seeds.

Flower seeds

In the past, I've rarely planted flower seeds unless they were herbs or if they'd benefit my vegetable plants (like nasturtiums or marigolds). This year I'm planning to plant more flowers simply for their beauty.

My motto over the past couple of years has been "if there are flowers outside, there will be flowers inside," even though I have to put those vases of flowers in out-of-the-way places to keep them out of reach of my flower-chomping cats.

Beautiful flowers make my soul smile. While I love Mason jars of wildflowers gathered from the fields, and vases of roses from the rosebush in the front yard, I'd like a little more this year, so I'll be adding a few packets of flower seeds to my order.

Growing cabbage - how to stay organized while ordering vegetable seeds for your garden.

Then go shopping

This is the fun part! Now it's time to browse online and decide which varieties to grow.

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 look for varieties that can withstand heat. Drought resistance is another plus for my region.

You might have different requirements than I do. Disease resistance or cold tolerance, for instance, or fast-maturing plants for a short growing season. Write down your requirements and preferences.

Armed with this information, I can fill out my seed order - oh, it's still so hard to choose, but I can at least narrow down the options, right? I'm starting the process now so I can refine my list and still order early enough that my chances of finding what I want in stock will be better.

I'll be sure to put my lists in my garden notebook so I won't have to start from scratch next year. Having most of this information already written down will make the process easier (and faster) next time.

Growing lettuce - how to organize your spring vegetable seed order.

Where I order my seeds

I'm placing my order with Mary's Heirloom Seeds. I've ordered several times from Mary in the past and have always been happy with the service and with the quality of the seeds I've received. Mary has sponsored a few giveaways for my readers in the past too.

Did you see the heirloom tomato challenge that Mary is currently running? And a pepper challenge and pollinator challenge too!

Don't forget the carrots!

There are so many seed choices and it's hard to restrain myself - maybe you feel the same way? I hope this method will help you make wise decisions so you don't end up with more seeds than will ever fit in your garden space and then realize you forgot the carrot seeds. (Because that's never happened to me. Ahem.)

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There's no better way to spend a winter evening than planning your spring garden. Here's how to choose what to order so you won't forget the carrots.

How to stay organized when ordering your spring seeds.

It's easy to go overboard when ordering spring seeds; here's how to stay organized! From Oak Hill Homestead

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at: 
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It's My Sustainable Life said...

My favorite time of year...dreaming of getting my hands dirty once again. Have to say, Kathi, you are way more organized than I. You've inspired me to approach it more mindfully!

French Creek Farmhouse said...

Hi Kathi! This is such wonderful information, and you're truly inspiring me. Can't wait for spring gardening!
xo, Kristi

Kathi said...

I hope it helps when you click that "place order" button!

Kathi said...

I can't wait either, Kristi! Let's make it a Great Garden Year.

Melissa said...

Hey Kathi - thanks so much for sharing such valuable information at Farm Fresh Tuesdays Blog Hop! I will be featuring your post at this week's hop! Please stop by and say hi!
Melissa | Little Frugal Homestead

Kathi said...

Thank you so much, Melissa!

lisa lombardo said...

I love Mary's Heirloom Seeds! I especially like picking out packets from her 99 cent seed selection :)
Although I'm not quite this organized, I do go through all of my seeds and make a list so that I don't order more of something I already have...then I try to be realistic about what will fit in my garden. It's not easy to cut things from the list! said...

Congratulations Kathi! You are featured on You're The Star - Hello January Garden. There is a little miss-typed but thanks to Melissa - Little Frugal Homestead, the correction had been made. Thank you for linking up at You're The Star Blog Hop!

Mel- Creative Co-Host

Stella said...

Excellent job.