Seed shopping can titillate the fancy of winter weary gardeners suffering from the melancholy of cabin fever. Some basic guidelines will help you make the best seed selections for this years garden.
1. Start seed shopping early, winter is the best time to allow you to accumulate your seeds and plan out the details of your seed-starting and transplant schedules.
2. Compare selections from a variety of seed sellers not only to get the best price, but the highest quality as well.
3. Don't necessarily assume that seeds on sale are the best value, at times they are leftovers from last season that will not always germinate as well as seeds packaged for the current season.
4. Select seeds and plants that grow well in your specific area. Take into consideration not only the hardiness zone, but your micro climate as well. Do you live by the sea shore, a swampy area or a windy location ?
5. Maturity dates listed by seed sellers are estimates. The actual time it takes for a harvest to be realized is influenced by a number of variables.
6. Differentiate between annuals and perennials. Most vegetable gardeners grow only annuals such as tomatoes, peppers, corn. There are also a number of rewarding perennials that can be planted and will keep producing season after season.
7. Differentiate between hybrids and heirlooms or open-pollinated plants. Hybrids generally produce earlier harvests with higher yields, but open-pollinated cultivars many claim taste better and produce over a longer longer time period.
8. Choose varieties that have desirable characteristics for your unique situation. Plant height and width, growth habits such as vines or sprawling plants, soil tolerance and so forth.
9. All-America Selections are generally the best, they tend to grow and produce well under many variables. All-America Selections is an organization [not for profit] that promotes new garden seed varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America. To accomplish this, the All-America Selections (AAS) organization oversees a collaborative testing program involving horticulture professionals all across the continent. [Wikipedia]
10. Be wary of seeds treated with synthetic fungicides. Although the fungicide has its advantages - the potential harm outweighs this. Untreated seeds are best.