February is traditionally a very slow month for most gardeners in the US and Canada. While things are starting to move towards spring (albeit slowly), most of the winter chores are done and for most of us it’s not time to start the spring garden yet. Nevertheless, there’s always a garden project or two we can try, and for this week’s blog we’re going to focus on some gardening education. We get a lot of questions from readers about seeds: how to start them, when to plant them, and perhaps most importantly where to find them. What’s the best place to find good seeds? Where should you order seeds online? How do you know you’re getting what you paid for in terms of quality? Let’s take a look at the world of seeds!
As we’re sure you’ve noticed, you can purchase seeds in a great many places: home improvement stores, garden centers, supermarkets and grocery stores, big box stores, and even discount stores often have seeds for sale. Sometimes, they seeds are inexpensive—which is a good thing as it makes gardening accessible. However, there are some limitations to cheap seeds you should be aware of. Firstly, seeds do expire, eventually losing their vitality and ability to sprout into a new plant. Many places that sell seeds cheaply don’t have great inventory control, so you don’t know for sure how long those seeds have been on the self. Secondly, seeds available in chain retailers and big box stores are often commercial hybrids, which may nor may not give you the quality of plant you want or produce viable seeds of their own. That having been said: if you find cheap seeds near you, don’t hesitate to give them a try! Just be aware of these limitations and maybe keep them away from your heirloom plants to avoid cross-pollination.
If you need to buy seeds locally and affordably, we recommend going to a garden center or a home improvement store with a large garden section. They’re better able to control inventory, so your seeds are less likely to be past-prime. You may find seeds with a “best by” date on the package, which is helpful as well. The good news about buying seeds this way is that you can look at them in person, compare varietals, prices, and feel, and perhaps even ask a knowledgeable employee about what seeds might be best for you. It also doesn’t hurt to do a bit of research as to which brands have the best reputation—you can do that online pretty quickly if you have your phone with you and can get WiFi access.
So what about ordering seeds online? Well, many of the same cautions apply. Ordering cheaper seeds from a large online retail space makes it harder to be sure what you’re getting, how old it is, and how it compares to other products. But with those cautions in mind—and a little research—you can often find great deals at major online vendors for many common seeds, so don’t be afraid to try it out. The best option, price and time aside for the moment, is to order your seeds from a dedicated organic/heirloom seed supplier. They generally have better quality control, more knowledgeable customer support, and a genuine passion for plants, seeds, and gardening. If possible, try to find a seed supplier near you to cut down on shipping time and help ensure that the seeds your getting are appropriate for your climate zone.
When your seeds arrive, you’ll need something to start them in and containers for your future plants. We hope you’ll remember that Gardzen shares your love of gardening and of plants and choose our seed starting trays, containers, and other garden products this spring. If you have any questions about seeds or anything else, get in touch! We’re all about community and we’d love to hear from you!