Buying seeds can be overwhelming. Actually, I don’t think overwhelming is the right word. It can be…addicting? Honestly, I’m not sure what word I’m looking for but I do know that it can be really fun. It’s really exciting to start thinking about your garden and what you will be growing soon. It’s exciting to see all of the different varieties that the seed companies are putting out there. Mostly, it’s really exciting to bathe in the possibility. The possibility of learning, growing, and preserving something right from the seed. It’s something I want everyone to experience and that’s why it’s important to make sure you are selecting seeds that will help you be successful.
Plan Before You Buy
The biggest thing that I will tell you is that you should plan what seeds you are going to buy. If you’ve done this before that means you need to go through what you have to see what you need. If you haven’t grown a garden or bought seeds before you should plan out what you need. Simply ask yourself, what do I want to grow this year?
The price of seeds is pretty low and it’s so easy to just start buying everything in sight. I swear I haven’t heard of one person who just simply orders the only seeds they absolutely need. Majority of us have some extras because we got sucked into the possibility. If you are tight on money or don’t want to buy extra it’s probably beneficial to draw out your garden. Draw out all of what you want to plant and then buy based on that.
I do want to emphasize that it’s okay to get some extra seeds! It’s okay to have extra seeds on hand and, in fact, I recommend that you get extra. We just don’t know what is going to happen with the supply chain. During 2020 there were times when people couldn’t buy seeds in the stores because they weren’t considered essential. My parents keep a ton of seeds on hand and they really only use about 25% of them each year. Most of what they plant is starts that come from a local greenhouse. There are many options to start your garden, it doesn’t have to be from the seeds you buy, but I do recommend that either way you are keeping some seeds on hand.
Where to Buy
There are so many places to buy seeds from. It can be incredibly overwhelming if you are new to it. I know there were tons of people on Instagram and on their blog that were promoting various companies. I found out later it’s because they were associated with those companies and they honestly might not have been the best ones for me.
My biggest recommendation is to shop locally. If you can find a place that is local to you the seeds they are selling will likely be the best ones for your area. There are so many different varieties that you can choose from and that is what gets overwhelming. There are, undoubtedly, some varieties that will grow the best in your area and those are the ones that you want. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to be limited to just those locations or varieties. It’s not to say you can’t grow anything else, but if you are just getting started it can be discouraging if all of your seeds fail. One of the best ways to avoid that is to use tried and true methods.
This is my #1 go to seed company. Their prices are more than reasonable and they’re a Michigan company! This is a bonus because that means they are local to me. They are growing things that I should be able to grow because I am also in Michigan. Their customer service is great and everything comes in a very timely manner. I’ve also found that their seed packages are really easy to read. Some companies don’t make it obvious on whether you should start them inside or outside or what you should be doing with the seeds. MIGardener does a great job and makes it really obvious for those of us who might not be great at it.
Etsy is actually a really cool way to get seeds. Most times it’s just homesteads that have worked to preserve their seeds and are now selling them. It’s a great way to be sustainable and help out a fellow homesteader. I love to be able to support small businesses so this is a great option. However, I will say the seeds can be more difficult to manage. I haven’t had any of them that come with directions on how to grow, when to start, what type of weather they need etc. They usually come in a small bag with a label and that is it. If you know what you are doing with your seeds already this is a great option and it’s usually very cost friendly. If you are just starting, it’s probably not the best way to go.
Baker Creek, Johnnys, Veseys
These are the other bigger seed companies that a lot of people will talk about on social media. I’m not going to go into each of them because they all seem pretty similar to me. They offer tons of varieties and it can be super overwhelming to try to choose them. They do a great job of telling you what the seeds need and what their main usage is (storage, eat fresh, etc). The problem is they don’t tell you if it’s compatible in your growing zone. As I mentioned, there are certain varieties that grow better in certain areas. It may be helpful to network and connect with those in your area to see what they have found grows well for them. From there any of these companies will be great to buy seeds from. Their quality is very high for all of them and the pricing will be similar.
In Summary: Selecting Seeds
There are a few key things you should do when selecting seeds to grow. First, plan your garden and decide what you want to grow. You don’t have to plan it row by row, but it will help to have at least a general idea of what you need before buying.
- Identify if there are local sources for seeds and try to utilize them.
- Network to find out what grows best in your area. People who have been doing this for years are usually willing to share their information.
- There will always be some failures with gardening simply because there are so many variables. However, you can help yourself out and set yourself up to be as successful as possible by starting with the right seeds.
- You will likely have to buy potatoes from a different company or locally. Most seed companies don’t also sell seed potatoes. I buy mine from the Maine Potato lady and there is a whole lot more information on that here!