Gardening Tips and Highlights Waushara County Master Gardeners

Seed buying: Dos and Don’ts

by Christine Yesko        


Nearly all of the seeds I’ve ordered from my various catalogs for this spring season have arrived, and I spent much of the day sorting, organizing, and dating the seed packets by sow date.

Starting seeds indoors over the next two months is one of many joys of gardening, especially during a winter like this one. There are countless treasured annuals and cultivars of annuals via catalog and online sources that you’ll never find at garden centers for various reasons. I’ve learned the many dos and don’ts of growing my own flowers and vegetables firsthand.

Now that we have all those newly-delivered, luscious seed catalogs staring us in the face, what are we going to do with them? For many, the answer is nothing. They’re nice to look at but we never get around to buying anything. Then there is the other extreme. Catalog-crazed purists, once hooked, find it preposterous to think of actually buying run of the mill seeds at a local garden center. For those who are buying seeds through the mail for the first time, there are certain dos and don’ts that will make you a smarter shopper.


Here are a few mistakes:

Overbuying: Even the veterans are guilty of this. It’s like going to the grocery store on an empty stomach or hitting the buffet line when starving. When it comes to gardening, even the most disciplined can find themselves impulsive. Although seeds can be stored and saved, eventually they lose much of their viability. The best germination rate occurs on seeds that are packaged for the current year.

Plan ahead: In order to avoid the mistake of biting off more than you can chew, do a little advance planning. First, try to calculate how many plants you can really add to a gives space.

Time devoted to planting and maintenance: Even if you have unlimited room, there’s still work to do in planting the seeds and subsequent care. Gardening should not be a burden or chore. Keep it manageable to fit your schedule and lifestyle.


Although these suggestions can help, it will give you some guidelines and remind you to look beyond the pretty pictures. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new varieties; just be realistic with what you’ll be able to do before you spend your money.