I've done it! I've finished our seed order for spring! And well ahead of time, which, these days, is quite an accomplishment. It seems that life with a 1 and a half year-old has been an exercise in "catching up".
In the past I have ordered from mulitple seed companies. Since we are not going to be selling seedlings at Farmer's Market this year, just growing our own food, I opted to limit our seed purchases and order only from Baker Creek (one of our favorite heirloom seed companies). As much as I love to try new varieties of heirloom veggies, we just don't need 25 varieties of tomatoes if we won't be selling any of them. I must admit, though, it was truly hard to narrow down my selection!
Seed shopping can quickly get out of control- I mean, who can resist those gorgeous photos of oh-so-ripe fruits and veggies, a delicious reminder of warm sunny days to come?), so it's best to come up with a budget BEFORE you start browsing. This year I decided to keep our order under $100.
Now, this may sound like a lot, but not only will the garden provide all of our veggies for summer and most of our veggies for the year, but I will also have tons of extra seeds to give away/save for next year.You certainly don't have to spend this much, but at between $1.75 and $3.00 a packet for most seeds, it quickly adds up. Plus I am a sucker for trying interesting and unusual varieties, for not only fun, but also for growing for farmers' market.
When you buy seeds, you usually get anywhere from 15 to 200 seeds, depending on the type of plant you will be growing. Small seeds, like lettuce, come in very large quantities, whereas bigger seeds, like beans, tend to come in smaller quantities. Then of course how rare the variety is also determines how many seeds/how expensive they might be.
If you want a large selection of veggies for your garden, and especially if you want to grow more than one variety per veggie, chances are you'll find yourself with an overabundance of seeds and a large cost to boot. The solution? Either find a friend or neighbor who would be willing to split an order of seeds with you, or properly store your seeds for next year. And by properly, I mean throw them in a bag or jar and store somewhere where they won't get wet or eaten by mice. I theory, they shouldn't get too hot either, but I have to be honest here: we have stored our seeds in the most horrid of locations (left in the greenhouse all summer, baking at 120+ degrees for months) and *still* had germination the following season.
Although a lot of seed companies will tell you that you should buy new seeds each year, we've had great success with continuing to use our old seeds for up to three years. Sure, the germination rate goes down with each year, so you'll need to be sure to plant extras, but you should end up with at least some plants. This can save you a lot of $$$ on seed purchases. In 2010, I bought approximately $125 worth of seeds (we were selling at Farmer's Market that year). I was very lazy about storing them, and so some of them ended getting ruined throughout the course of the year, but in 2011 I bought absolutely NO seeds. I simply used leftovers from the summer before. And actually, we used leftovers from 2009, too. That means that for less than $65 per summer, we were able to grow two years worth of food and over $1000 worth of plants to sell at market. Not bad!
So, the big question then is what to grow... Here is our shopping list from this year, just in case anyone is interested. I always like checking out other gardener's lists, looking for cool new varieties to snag.
- Empress of India - Nasturtium
- Tiger Eye Mix Sunflower
- Henderson's Black Valentine Pole Bean
- Contender (Buff) Valentine Bush Bean
- Early Wonder Beet
- Calabrese Green Sprouting Broccoli
- Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage
- Chantenay Red Core Carrot
- Green Macerata Caulliflower
- Dakota Black Popcorn
- Marketmore 76 Cucumber
- Listada De Gandia Eggplant
- Nigerian Saybo Gourd
- Russian Red or Ragged Jack Kale
- Early Purple Vienna Kohlrabi
- Carentan Leek
- Rocky Top Lettuce Mix
- Charentais Melon
- Laxton's Progress no. 9 Garden Pea
- Orange Bell Pepper
- Monstrueux De Viroflay Spinach
- Costata Romanesco Zucchini
- Connecticut Field Pumpkin
- Table Queen Bush Squash
- Five Color Silver Beet Chard
- Golden Midget Watermelon
- Yellow Brandywine Tomato
- Purple Russian Tomato
- Jersey Giant Tomato
- White Tomesol Tomato
- Hawaiian Pineapple Tomato
- Nature's Riddle Tomato
Have any favorite varieties that you will be growing this year? We'd love to hear about them!