Can you give me some ideas on how to best choose seeds for my needs? I’m having trouble choosing from all the variety that’s out there.
Besides which varieties have the prettiest picture, what factors should weigh in on your list for what to plant this year?
First up, should be what will grow in your region/climate. If you have a shorter season, look carefully at the “days to maturity”, if a plant will take too long to grow, your work will be in vain, and your setting yourself up for disappointment. So, plant things with the shortest “days to maturity” listed. If you live where it’s hot and humid, look for heat and humidity resistant varieties. If you live where it’s hot and dry, choose heat and drought tolerant varieties. Don’t discount the value of asking other heirloom gardeners in your area what they grow, or searching Google or forums for others’ suggestions of what to grow in your area. We find a wealth of helpful information this way.
Take into consideration how much room you have. If you have a limited amount of space think in terms of what is most important to YOU that you have it fresh out of your garden. If you have a local source of lettuce you can buy, that tastes good and is organic(or whatever is most important to you), then maybe skip the lettuce seeds. But if you love tomatoes, and can’t get a decent flavored tomato anywhere, then be sure to plant some tomatoes. If you’re growing in containers or small spaces try choosing “bush” varieites, or look for “square foot gardening” or container gardening” resources, forums, etc. to find what people in those venues reccomend.
Another point, following the last is, plant only what you will eat. It’s an awful lot of work gardening (even if there is a lot of fun in the mix), and it is discouraging to put ALL the work into planting and upkeep, only to have it all be for naught. Not only does this apply to WHAT you plant, but also how much, as whatever you plant you will get the best results out of if you can keep up on it. This is not to say, don’t try new varieties, as trying new things is so fun and spontaneous, but if you know no one in the family will eat it, don’t bother with all the work and expense!
One last helpful idea, not usually thought of as an important part of choosing your seeds, is the habit of keeping records of your garden. What did you grow, how did you like it, how did it do in your garden/climate. If you do this it will help you to remember your favorites year to year, and also to avoid accidentally buying a variety you didn’t like before.