This time of the year, I am like a kid in a candy store. I love looking at seed catalogs and picking out what I want to grow, seeing what is new this year. I often spend too much money and end up with more seed than I can use in one growing season. So I thought it would be a good time to talk about what a seed catalog/ seed packet can tell you about your seeds, or some things you should consider when purchasing seeds.
Things to consider when purchasing seeds:
- Organic/ Conventional
- Heirloom/ Hybrid
- Disease Resistance
- Pest Resistance
- Cold/ Heat Tolerance
- Length of time to maturity
Once you know what kind of seeds you are looking for you can start hunting for them. The seed catalog or the back of the seed packet is loaded with information so make sure you read them carefully.
Information on seed packet/ catalog:
- Name of the seed, ex. Jade Bush
- Description of the plant/ vegetable it produces
- Days to seed germination
- Days to maturity
- Seed count or weight of seeds in the package
- The packing date – this is important you don’t want to buy seeds that were packaged in 2000, the germination rate will not be very good. If buying seeds stick to ones that were bought this year.
- Size of the plant
- Planting instructions: Plant spacing, depth, light conditions, moisture, when to start planting
- Hybird/ heirloom
- Annual/ biennial/ perennial
Where do you start looking for seed catalogs? Just Google: “Vegetable Seed Catalogs” and you will get a page full of resources. You can view the catalogs online, or if you like to touch the pages like I do, you can request a paper copy of the catalog. If you do this they will usually add you to the mailing list and you will get one every year!
You should also check out the UW-Extension publication: “Vegetable cultivars and planting guide for Wisconsin gardens” this guide lists recommended cultivars for Wisconsin and the recommended planting dates. Keep in mind that this publication is designed for Madison, add 1 – 2 weeks if planting in Central Wisconsin, or 2 – 3 weeks if planting in Northern Counties.