If you're planning a garden for the spring and, like me, you enjoy starting your garden from seed, now is definitely the time to start. Many warm weather seedlings, like peppers and tomatoes, need a really good jump on the growing season (6-10 weeks minimum) unless you live somewhere even warmer than where I live. Remember I want my seedlings ready to be planted by mid-March.
Look at it like this, 1 month to order seeds and get them in the mail, 2 months to plant the seeds and have healthy transplants ready to go into the spring garden means I have to start planning at least 3 months ahead. I want to plant around March 15th so considering its nearly December 1st, I'd say it's time to get moving, wouldn't you?
Thinking about buying seeds online?
Whether you’re buying seeds online for a huge vegetable garden, or you’re just looking to raise a few pots of plants, it’s important to know the best places to get your seeds! For a backyard farmer, buying seeds is just about as fun as buying a new pair of shoes.
Actually, it is better, you can’t eat shoes!
Living in central Texas definitely has its draw backs (cough, Hot, dry summers, cough), but we get our own little slice of heaven here when it comes to gardening – we can easily grow all year long! Here in my hardiness zone I can start the spring garden in mid-March, grow vegetables a’ plenty right up until the end of the year. In September I start putting in my ‘cold’ garden and it grows right up until the end of February, which is when I am readying the spring garden once again. Be jealous! You can find your planting hardiness zone information here.
It’s like Christmas. But healthier.
1) Choose only vegetables that your family really likes.
Much as green beans sound like a fun and easy crop to grow, if you really don't care to serve them more than once or twice a summer, save your seed money and garden space and just get some from your farmer's market instead! On the other hand, if your family just can't enough fresh snap or snow peas, or cherry tomatoes, make sure that you are prepared to grow plenty of those.
2) Consider buying heirloom seeds.
For amazingly different, delicious, and intriguing types of vegetables (pink or striped tomatoes, purple cauliflower, Armenian or lemon cucumbers, etc.) and a variety othat will make your local garden center absolutely pale in comparison, heirloom seeds win hands down.
If you are unsure of what heirloom seeds are, and want more information, try reading Joe’s short article on the subject off of the Phytonutrient Farms website: “Heirloom – The benefits and importance of growing heirloom veggies.”
3) Always double check what you have left from previous years.
If your seeds have been carefully stored away from moisture and warmth (I keep mine in a ziploc bag in my fridge), they should last you for several years. A few days ago, I sorted through all 37 packages (yes, that's right- 37 and I'm still buying more!), wrote out a detailed list of what I had and whether I needed to buy more seeds.
4) Decide on any new varieties you will try, or vegetables you haven't grown but feel ready to try your hand at.
This year, I am trying a new tomato - Tigerella, just for fun, because 9 other varieties just aren't enough for me!
5) How much of each seed is needed?
With things like winter squash, your seeds will likely go bad before you use up the entire package, as you only need a few each year (remember- 1 squash seed will yield 1 squash plant and that 1 squash plant will yield anywhere from 4 to 12 squash. Or more!). One package of carrot seeds, however, will likely only last you one season, and you may need even more than one package depending on how thickly you plant them and if you're planting for both spring and fall. Most seed companies tell you how many seeds come in each package (it varies depending on the vegetable), so pay attention and make your decisions accordingly.
6) Don't be overzealous.
It's so easy to want to overbuy on seeds, because they're just, well, tempting! If it's your first-year gardening, choose varieties that are known to be easier to grow, or stick with the more common varieties that you know your family will enjoy (save that funky squash or red oriental cucumber for next year, when you're feeling more confident, and instead go with standard Butternut and a long, green cuke). Also, take into account the size of your garden and how much you can realistically grow. Remember, you can always add a few things to the garden as the season goes on, or try something new in the fall after you've already had the spring to figure some things out. Plus, there's always next year!
I prefer heirloom seeds when buying seeds online because they haven’t been crossbred for characteristics for at least 40 to 50 years. Why is this important to me? Well, crossbreeding plants is a natural process, but typically it’s done to improve things like pest resistance or thick skin, and not for optimal flavor. In my opinion, heirloom is the best option for a backyard farmer, when pests can be kept under control and flavor is the top priority. Also, heirloom seeds are always open-pollinated, which means they are pollinated naturally by wind or bees, instead of by hand, which can be a lot of work.
Hybrid seeds are not open-pollinated, and many times the seeds from a harvest of hybrid seeds cannot be replanted with high success.
Non-GMO seeds are something that I absolutely strive for. If I wanted genetically modified plants that were made in a lab, I’d get my produce from the store.
Organic seeds do not come from a chemical or pesticide-sprayed fruit or vegetable. For a company to become certified organic, it can be quite expensive, so I’m comfortable with taking the word of the owner when buying seeds online, if I feel like I can trust them.
Buying Seed Online – Who do I recommend?
In an effort to support full disclosure I want to say that Phytonutrient Farms is my company, so of course, I recommend you buy you seeds here!
At Phytonutrient Farms it is my goal to offer you only the highest quality, organic, non genetically modified seeds that I can possibly find for all of your Phytonutrient Gardening needs. I have partnered with seed growers around the nation to offer you only the best of the best so that you can grow the healthiest, most phytonutrient-rich and antioxidant-dense varieties of all of your favorites!
That is our commitment. That is our promise!
What we strive for is 100% Organic, Non-GMO seeds that are hand harvested, hand sorted, and hand packed. We are a very small company with a limited number of seeds but they are available at a great price and no matter how much you purchase your shipping is always only $3.00. Check us out here!
Seed Saver Exchange
I love this place. It has such a great concept, and the quality is always there! They’ve been encouraging the preservation of heirloom seeds for over 37 years, so they really know their stuff. Plus, I just love the idea of a community of backyard farmers sharing their seeds.
Johnny’s is kind of my go-to for purchasing seeds online. They have great customer service and they always seem to have great sales going on during planting season. They also have a handy online seed calculator and can help determine your hardiness zone.
SeedsNOW advertises that they have Pure 100% Non-GMO seeds. As long as you’re buying organic seeds, they should be non-gmo as well, but I like that SeedsNOW shows how important providing 100% pure non-GMO is to them. They also have some easy search categories like, “can tolerate partial shade”, and “grows well with raised beds”.
Sustainable Seed Company
The Sustainable Seed Company is a popular site to find heirloom and certified organic seeds. It’s also family owned and has a large selection of seeds! The company’s location is also sustainably powered, which is pretty cool!
SeedWise is and Organic and Non-GMO Marketplace enabling seed farmers to sell directly to home gardeners, giving a greater level of choice to the customer and higher income to the farmer. A real win-win.
Happy Seed Buying!!