We’ve got another wonderful post today from my friend Amy Jacko, my own personal gardening guru. Amy’s sharing how to select seeds for your garden this year…

A Spicy Perspective on Gardening

Do you have a general garden layout plan worked out?

Ok, now get ready to change it…. Just kidding. Maybe.

Type A personalities have just thrown up their hands and sighed! Let me clarify, if you have selected seeds or are in the midst of deciding on what to plant, the plan sometimes needs to be adjusted, depending on the needs of your seeds/plants.

For instance, if you have a short growing season and a seed takes 108 days to reach maturity, you have to decide to skip it, plant it, or start it indoors.

Gardening 101: How to Select Seeds


I can not stress how important it is to to have quality, viable seeds.

Viable seeds means that they are “fresh” seeds that have been stored correctly or purchased this year. Seeds that you found in a basement, 5 years ago most likely (like a 1 to 100 shot) will not grow. If you are new to gardening there is nothing worse than spending time and energy on seeds that never pop their heads out of the ground.

There are many, many, many (did I say many?) seed companies that are vying for you to purchase your seeds from them. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you are selecting a seed company:

  • Do they have all the types of seeds that I need/want?
  • Do I want to purchase all my seeds from one company or from multiple companies?
  • Do I want to purchase them in a store or online?
  • I want organic seeds, do they have organic seeds?
  • I want non-GMO seeds, are their seeds all non-GMO?
  • I want heirloom (AKA antique seed varieties), do they have a selection of heirloom seeds?
  • Do the seeds grow well in my zone/location?
  • Are their seeds chemically treated?

I am sure that I will look back at this post and wish I put a few more questions to ask. But these questions will help jump start you on the path of where to choose to buy your quality seed.

selecting seeds

Selecting Seed | Reading the Seed Packet:

Seed packets have the name listed on the front and maybe a gorgeous picture of the end-product. Yet when you flip the seed packet over the information on the other side can look like a foreign language.

Here is a basic map of how to read the back of a seed packet. My picture and the seed packet you buy may look slightly different, but for the most part they will read the same.

  • Expiration, What Season it was Packed For, and Lot Number (In case of a recall, a company will ask for this number, etc.)
  • Type of Seed
  • Latin Name (For the type of seed or for the variety, depending on the  company.)
  • The Variety of the Type of Seed
  • Planting Tips
  • How to Grow the Seeds & Planting Information

Gardening 101: How to Select Seeds

If you want to start your seeds indoors you need to allow enough time for them to be sturdy seedlings when it is the right moment for them to go out in the garden.

Your seed package will tell you how many weeks before or after your “last frost date” you should plant your seeds/plants. In our area of North Carolina it is May 15th, or according to the old timers, after Mother’s Day.

My next post will talk about seed starting and what you need to give your seeds, so they have a fighting chance of becoming sturdy little seedlings. It will also have the next section for your Garden Journal.

Now go circle those seed catalogs! I know it gives my husband a few gray hairs, but hey, I do not want to be the only one in our house with gray hairs!

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