How to pick vegetable garden seeds for the backyard garden

Last year’s vegetable garden seeds and garden seed catalogs are spread across the table.

Its January, my favorite time to prepare for the coming growing season. Choosing your vegetable seeds can be fun. I take stock of the seeds left from last season and decide which seeds I will need this year.

If you have looked through garden seed catalogs you know the seed varieties are endless. Choosing can be hard and overwhelming.

  • Which variety of corn should I grow?
  • Will this tomato plant grow well in my area?


Talking to neighbors and friends that grow vegetables is a great way to choose a variety to grow. Your local extension service may have lists of seed varieties that grow well in your area.

Knowing your plant hardiness zone helps in choosing your variety of seed. This let’s you know how long your growing season is.

Plant hardiness zone charts divide the United States into areas based on minimum temperatures. You can look up your hardiness zone here; just enter your zip code.

Your local nursery can help you with choosing vegetable garden seed varieties.

Our local nursery has a great choice of seeds which they sell in bulk.

Behind the counter are seeds drawers listing the vegetable seeds contained inside.

I love to go in and chat with the owner about the best vegetable garden seed varieties to grow.

The vegetable seeds are packed for the current growing season and germination is guaranteed.

If you don’t have a reliable local source for vegetable garden seeds in your area, garden seed catalogs are a great way to buy your seeds.

Most seed companies offer online catalogs with information about the vegetable seed varieties they offer.

I buy vegetable seeds through several online seed companies including the Victory Seed Company.

The Victory Seed Company specializes in rare Open-pollinated & Heirloom Garden Seeds. I placed an order of hard to find vegetable seeds in my area which included Leeks, Salsify and Parsnips for my winter garden.

I was pleasantly surprised by their reasonable prices. I ordered 6 packets of seeds. Shipping totaled $3.35. Each packet of seeds listed detailed information including days to germination, days to harvest, the best way to plant and nutrient and soil needs.

I planted the seeds in my garden on September 28 along with some carrots, spinach, kale and lettuce. Within two weeks all of the seeds had germinated including the salsify and parsnips which usually take up 21 days to germinate. By October 28th all of the plants were over an inch tall and forming leaves.



Hybrid seed vs. Heirloom or open pollination

    Hybrid seeds are grown to utilize desirable traits. Two different parent plants are crossed to create the child (hybrid). The child plant has the desirable traits of the parents; vigor, taste, greater disease resistance etc. Saving seed from hybrid verities will give you a different fruit than from the original hybrid seed.

    Open pollination/heirloom varieties are the best types to grow if you want to save your seeds from year to year. The seeds from these varieties will not change much from offspring to offspring. Because they are pollinated openly from insects in the garden, you will see slight changes from planting the seeds from year to year.

I grow both Heirloom and Hybrid varieties ...

My favorite green bean to grow is Blue Lake. This is an open pollinated variety so I can save seeds from this bean for planting the next season.

One of my favorite tomatoes to grow is Juliet hybrid tomato. If I save the seeds from a Juliet tomato to grow the next season, the fruit will be different from the original plant.

It will still be good to eat; it will just be different in some ways than the original plant the seeds were taken from.

Keep a record of your vegetable garden seed varieties on your vegetable garden layout. This way you will have a record of the varieties you grew.

Make notes about your garden and which vegetables you want to grow again.

I grow my favorite vegetable seeds year after year, but I always grow some new vegetables each year.

Artichokes and Red Kuri squash are now vegetables I grow because of this policy. Give new vegetables a try, you may be surprised.



Saving vegetable seeds from year to year:

Most vegetable garden seeds have a viability of 2-5 years. Label your extra seeds and place in a zip lock bag with air removed.

Pack seeds in a jar with lid. Store them in a cool, dry place that’s dark. For example; in the back of a refrigerator or in a cool basement.

Exchanging seeds with other gardener’s is a great way to try different seed varieties and share success stories with different growing techniques. Share your extra seeds with friends and neighbors.

Most important, have fun choosing your vegetable garden seeds.

Soon you will be ready to start planting ...

Start planting a vegetable garden. Vegetable seeds just need soil, water and warmth; soon you will be enjoying lots of fresh produce.


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