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How to Choose the Right Seeds for Your Garden

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Fingers placing seeds in a row in the soil.

Before you start planting your garden, the first thing you need to decide is which type of seeds you want plant.

(Note: This post is talking specifically about seeds, but most of this information would still apply if you are planting seedlings, too.)

These are a few of the things that you’ll want to consider before deciding on which seeds to plant to make sure you choose the right seeds for your garden.

Choose the Varieties of Plants You Want to Grow

The first priority, of course, is to plant the varieties of vegetables or herbs that you and your family like and will want to eat.

You also want to think about the climate where you live (do you have long, hot summers, or shorter, cooler summers?) and plant varieties that will do well in that sort of climate. Some vegetables, like tomatoes and peppers, really like the heat, while others, like peas, lettuces, and greens tend to prefer cooler temperatures.

The length of your growing season will make a big difference in the varieties that you would want to select, too. If you have a really short growing season, then it’s a good idea to check the information on your seed packets to see how many days it will take for the variety to ripen enough to be ready to harvest because you don’t want to grow something that won’t have enough time to grow fully before you get your first frost.

And another thing to consider is how much sunlight your garden gets. If you get a lot of sunlight (6-8 hours of direct sunlight), then you should be able to do well with sun-loving vegetables like tomatoes, squash, peppers, and cucumbers. If you don’t have much sunlight in your garden space, though, then you might want to stick with vegetables that can tolerate more shade like lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and root vegetables etc.

This doesn’t mean you can’t try to grow varieties that aren’t as suited for your garden space if you really like them and want to give them a try, but it does mean that you might have more challenges growing those varieties than you would if you had the ideal environment for them. My garden doesn’t get full sun all day long and I’m still able to grow some sun-loving plants like tomatoes, but I just have to be realistic and expect smaller yields than I would be able to get if I had more sun.

Choose Between Hybrid and Heirloom Seeds

Once you’ve decided on which varieties of vegetables you want to plant, the next decision is which type of seeds you will use. There are two basic options when it comes to seeds. You can plant hybrid seeds, or you can plant heirloom seeds.

Both types can be a good option for your garden. (And, just as a side note, hybrid seeds aren’t the same as genetically-modified seeds, so they can be an equally good choice if you want to plant an organic, non-GMO garden.)

Hybrid seeds can be a good choice because they’re readily available at just about any garden center and because many of the hybrid varieties have been developed to be disease-resistant or to grow fast and produce higher yields.

Heirloom seeds, though, have always been my favorite. You really can’t beat the taste of heirloom vegetables (especially the tomatoes!) A lot of modern hybrids have been developed to make them hardier for the long transport to grocery stores, but many of the heirloom varieties have been preserved over time because of their amazing flavor.

Another reason why I love heirlooms is because you can save the seeds for planting again the next year. You can’t do that with the hybrid seeds, so you would need to keep buying those every year, but when you plant heirlooms, you can save your seeds year after year. This can also help you to save money on your garden long term because you won’t have to buy as many seeds for your garden if you save your own seeds.

And, as a lover of history, my favorite reason for planting heirlooms is because I love being able to have a taste of history and experience eating the same varieties of vegetables that have been around for decades or even centuries. It’s so much fun to try growing the “forgotten” varieties that you never see in a grocery store!

So, I’m personally biased towards loving heirloom seeds, but hybrid seeds can be a great option for many reasons, too.

Where to Find Good Seeds for Your Garden

If you decide that you want the disease-resistant or fast-growing hybrid seeds, then you should have a pretty easy time finding them at any garden center or hardware store. They are also readily available online, too.

If you decide that you want to have some fun experimenting with heirloom seeds, though, your best bet is usually to buy them online. Some garden centers tend to carry more hybrid seeds than heirloom seeds, and when do carry heirlooms, then they usually don’t have very much variety. If you’re not picky about what varieties you want, then you can probably find enough heirlooms at a garden center for your garden, but if you’re looking for specific varieties or if you want to try some of the rarer, more unusual varieties, then you’re much more likely to find those online.

Since heirloom seeds are making a comeback in popularity, though, there are several online companies now that are preserving the seed varieties of the past and making them available for modern gardeners to plant. In this blog post I list out some of the ones that I consider the best online sources to find heirloom seeds.

Have you decided yet which varieties of vegetable you want to plant and whether you want to plant hybrid seeds or heirloom seeds? Let us know in the comments!

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Fingers placing seeds in a row in the soil and seedlings growing in pots in the sunlight.
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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

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