I spent some time with my seed catalogs this weekend and got all the seeds ordered and bought for the coming gardening season. Woot! None of that business like last year when I didn’t start one seed inside, no sirreee. I learned my lesson as I had to shop at a number of nurseries and stores and still couldn’t find all the varieties I usually plant each year. In the ten years that I had consistently started seeds of tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, etc. I had forgotten what it was like to be at the whim of whoever decides what varieties to offer.
Luckily, last season wasn’t a complete loss since my lovely blog friend, Shannan, shared some of her seeds with me – which coincidentally were mainly the varieties I like, too. Great minds and all that…
So with this experience fresh in my mind, I thought I’d share with you some of the great reasons to start your main garden plants from seed as well as share how I plan and organize, and a few of the new-to-me varieties on my list. I hope you’ll chime in with your thoughts in the comments, too.
Why bother starting seeds?
I wrote all about this last year with links to lots of how-tos. Seems like I needed to be reminded of this, too!
How do you decide what, where, and how to buy?
Here’s what I do:
- Make a list of the seeds I have from the previous year. Or two years. *cough*
- From that list, write down the seeds I need to buy (like shell pea, or 1 roma tomato).
- Go through my favorite catalogs to find the specific varieties I want to try of these and write this on my main “to buy” list.
- Take the list to a store offering 40% off quality seeds (that would be Fred Meyer in our neck of the woods – it was unadvertised, but the sale is going on now) in order to get each packet for $1-1.50 each (big savings from some of the $3.99/packet catalogs!). I can’t find all on my list, so I buy what they have and substitute those I’m okay with.
- The varieties I couldn’t find and either have to have, or really want, are the seeds that I buy from catalogs. I order online and the bulk of my order is from Pinetree Garden Seeds (who, by the way, I’m not affiliated with at all – I just like their products and prices). I do buy a few from Territorial, but I can get them locally, so that list will wait a couple of days.
- This year I also ordered from Gurney’s in order to try out the seed-starting kit with a plugs and water resorvoir. I’ve been wanting to try this for a few years – to compare with my cheapo set-up and see if there is any difference (I’ll report my findings, never fear!). They always offer a “buy $50 get $25 off” coupon, though everything seems to be twice as much as other catalogs to make up for it, harrumph. Surprisingly, they were the only catalog I had that offered two seeds I wanted: Lumina pumpkin and almost seedless Tri-Color mini peppers.
New (to me) seeds I’m trying this year:
- Fortex pole green bean. Of course I grow a 10-ft. row of Emerite pole beans every year, but I like to try a different variety on another 10-ft. row and I’ve read a lot of good things about the flavor and production of Fortex (a filet like Emerite, which are my favorite). Actually, I think I may have grown it in the distant past, but I can’t remember, so that’s like new – isn’t it?
- Soloist Chinese cabbage. When I’ve grown Chinese cabbage in the past they are all ready at once and they are huge, so it was hard to use them before they went bad. These are smaller heads that are somewhat heat tolerant (for a C. cabb, that is) so I think they will be good for early spring and fall production.
- Early Frosty shell pea. I already grow Cascadia snap pea and Oregon Sugar Pod snow pea, but I haven’t found a shell pea that I like as well. This pea is good for places with cold springs (definitely the NW) and short seasons (sometimes) yet produces a full-size pod. Now I just have to get them planted early enough!
- Jarradale blue/gray squash. I’ve been wanting to grow one of these for years and now that our daughter isn’t interesting in carving pumpkins anymore, I don’t have to grow orange pumpkins and have room for these – along with my favorite white pumpkin, Lumina.
- Speckled Roman tomato. I actually think I have grown this before, but I read someone’s blog who said this is their staple roma tomato each year, so I’m giving it another go. Plus, it’s so fun looking, isn’t it? And the other new tomato I wanted to try was already sold out (it’s January, for pete’s sake!), so this guy’s it for a “new” tomato.
So, that’s how I spent some of my weekend (that plus working on my workroom closets – yikes! More on that later…) and now I’m pretty excited about the upcoming gardening season again! What about you – anyone thinking about vegetables, flowers, and herbs?
Disclosure: I’m not affiliated with any of these companies, I’m just passing on information and have had good experiences from them in the past.