Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gardening 101: seeds

So there you are: you've selected the area you're going to plant, determined what you want to grow, and are now standing before the seed display at the local garden center.  The bright pictures on the outside promise luscious orbs kissed by the dew, long tender pods, and deep orange globes to inspire us to dream of pies and Jack-o-lanterns.  Take a deep breath. 

Johnny Seeds Snap Bean
Select a package and take a look at what's printed there.  Most of the better seed companies will tell you up front when the seeds were packaged or what year they were intended for.  Some of them are also kind enough to provide the germination rate.  Germination rate will give you a reasonable idea to about how many seeds you'll have to poke in the ground to how many will actually come up.  There are several bits of info that are good to note. 

Days to maturity is also important to note.  One of the nice things about some plants such as beans is if you stagger the plantings by about a week apart you can extend harvest for quite a long time. 

Remember that first frost date estimated on the USDA site?  That's something to keep in the back of your mind when looking at the maturity date.  Do you have enough time to nuture your plants to harvest?  If not, remember that it's not cheating to start with potted or plants started in a flat (that's what those trays of seedlings are called at the garden center).

Now let's say you were inspired to garden last year or two years or ten years ago, yet didn't quite get to the point of planting all those seeds.  Just because a seed is old doesn't mean it's no good.  Seeds are like ideas.  If it's a good seed, given the right environment it may surprise you.  So let's get started.

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