For a green thumb, or just about any gardening enthusiast, planting crops isn’t just about planting seeds and letting them grow. There’s one key factor that can affect the way plants grow and the overall appearance of the garden – choosing the right seeds.
As simple as it sounds, picking the right seeds can actually be a bit trickier than you think, especially if you don’t have hands-on experience with it. Fortunately, we’ve created this guide to help you.
Without further ado, here are a few tips you want to consider in order to choose the right seeds to plant in your garden:
Seeds are categorized into three main types depending on how they were bred: hybrid, GMO, or open-pollinated.
Open-pollinated seeds are seeds that resulted from the interaction of pollinators such as birds, insects, or wind. They are the best option if you want to save your seeds for planting year after year. After all, they will result in the same plant, the same flavor, and same size from generation to generation. The problem with open-pollinated seeds is that they’re a bit harder to find and are generally more expensive, though they can always produce plants that are “true-to-type”, or simply plants that act and look just like their parents.
GMOs (genetically modified organisms), on the other hand, are those that undergo bio-engineering in a hi-tech, gene-splicing lab. It’s for this reason they’re referred to as bio-engineered seeds. Through bio-engineering, these seeds will develop resistance to certain elements once grown, and some were even engineered to kill certain bugs once eaten. However, as they come with uncertain health risks, most gardeners tend to avoid them. For some types of plants feminized seeds are critical.
Lastly, we have the hybrid seeds. In essence, these are seeds produced from cross-pollinating two different plants in order to create plants with unique and desirable qualities – disease resistance, high yield, etc. They make a great choice for newbie gardeners as they can increase the odds of growing a successful garden due to their unique attributes. So,you have to keep these factors in mind while buying from a seed bank.
Both your local climate and the time of year you decide to plant your seeds play a very important role in gardening. The very first thing you should figure out is the climate zone you’re in as it can give you an idea of the type of plants that grow best in your climate.
There are a number of online tools you can use to do this: here’s a good example.
Once you know your climate zone, proceed to find a planting calendar for your location so you can have an insight into the type of plants that grow best during specific seasons. A planting calendar will also give you information regarding when to start planting your seeds.
You have the option to choose a wide variety of fruit or vegetable seeds to plant in your garden. However, before you do so, you have to first choose them based on your goals and lifestyle. If you want to grow plants that have a specific size, can grow fast, and offer high yields, then make them your priority and avoid seeds that don’t offer any of those qualities.
Another thing you want to consider is to diversify your selection. Choose a variety of seeds that will help you grow a variety of crops – just make sure that they have almost the same quality so that you can harvest them at the same time. Apart from that, adding diversity into your garden will prevent soil degradation and pest infestation.
When choosing seeds, always go for the fresh ones. Even in just a single plant, you’ll notice that the quality and health of the seeds can vary.
In general, a seed’s viability can go for around 1-5 years. Although there are cases of seeds that can still germinate even after hundreds or thousands of years, such cases are quite rare. At home, even a properly stored, good-quality seed can only last for a short time. Therefore, you’d want to choose seeds that are as fresh as possible.
The fresher the seeds you pick, the more viable they are. Simply put, they have a higher chance of sprouting and growing. Fortunately, most companies will list their seeds’ germination rates in percentage, giving you an idea of the seeds you sow and how many among them will sprout. For example, a 70% germination rate will mean that out of the 10 seeds you sow, 7 of them will successfully sprout.
You have to keep in mind that most seeds don’t have a 100% germination rate from the beginning; therefore, various plant species will have varying germination rates. Some will have a high rate of around 70-80% while others will be quite low at around 30-40%. Hence, regardless of how fresh your seeds are, some of them simply just won’t sprout. Still, fresher seeds will give you higher germination rates than ones that are not.
Another thing when it comes to a seed’s freshness is that a newly purchased seed doesn’t always mean fresh. Some companies will include a use-before date on their packages. Therefore, when shopping, make sure to look for this. Just remember that the older the seeds are, the lower their germination rates become. A good example is onions which can only live for a year, after which they become total duds.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
When choosing seeds, don’t try to think too much about it, especially if you’re a newbie gardener. You can go a little crazy, but don’t forget to have fun doing so. Try buying seeds from a few different sources then try to compare their performance, germination rates, and the results you get.
Don’t be afraid to go for a certain seed if it has all the qualities you need. Also, you might want to let your family join in on the fun. This way, you’ll have fun experience of growing crops in your garden!
I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.
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