How To Decide on Your Seed Order

How to Decide on Your Seed Order

A huge thank you to everyone who came to visit me this past weekend at the Garden Expo. It was so delightful visiting with you at my booth and seeing your smiling faces in my workshops. The Saturday edition of the 10 Mistakes workshop was standing room only! I’d also like to extend a warm welcome to the hundreds of gardeners who recently joined our community here on this blog.

Two new posts skyrocketed to the top of the Most Popular Posts list on the homepage of my website this week. They are both about seed starting, so I don’t have to guess what you all are thinking about out there! It’s time to joyously dip our toes (or fingers?) into the beginnings of the gardening season.

Ordering seeds is on my list of tasks for this weekend. Depending on how many seed catalogs you have sitting on your dining room table the process can quickly become overwhelming and expensive. I’ll share my process of how I decide what seeds to order with the hope that it will help you be more strategic in your own ordering this year.

I keep all of my seed packets in a little plastic tub in my basement. My first step is to reorganize the packets into piles on the living room floor. I then check the dates and discard anything I think is in danger of not germinating. The gardening season is short here in WI and in most cases I don’t want to waste weeks waiting for seeds to germinate. (Not sure how old is too old? Check out this list.)

Then, I page through the seed catalogs I have at my house and circle everything that tempts me. (Ha! That’s no short list.) After this dreaming phase I bring myself back to earth with a dose of reality by fetching my garden binder which holds all of my garden maps. Oh yeah, I only have about 1600 square feet in which to grow food. There is no way all of this is going to fit in those gardens!  So, I will start to call out to my husband across the room, “KALE! More or less than last year?” Because I keep records on my garden maps I know exactly how many plants we grew last year. After we decide on an approximate number of plants for the coming season, I take stock of the seeds I already have and what I circled in the seed catalogs and decide what to order, if anything.

I continue through this process for each vegetable (and flower) until I’ve settled on a seed order. Last year I purchased seeds from Seed Savers Exchange, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and Johnny’s Selected Seeds. This year I’m tempted by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Hudson Valley Seed Library. I like to support local gardening businesses in Madison, so in the next week or two I will stop by Paradigm Gardens and The Bruce Company with my list since they both have large collections from many of my favorite sources. Whatever I can’t find at their stores I will order online. Hopefully I’ll be stocked up and ready to start my onions and leeks around the end of February.

If you want to read about some of my most successful and favorite varieties you can find them in last year’s blog post. (But, don’t buy them all up before I finish my seed order!)

One of my favorite garden bloggers, Margaret Roach, is profiling some tiny, specialized seed companies on her blog. Their stories are fascinating!

What questions, issues or frustrations do you have around seed starting? Leave a comment below and I’ll try to address it in the coming weeks.



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Learn How to Get Better Results.

Let's start with talking about the top 5 mistakes most gardeners make.
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