During the cooler months of fall and winter, we can be carried away by the pretty seed packets we see in the store – but don’t!
You’re usually better off using the stores to get ideas, and then use seed catalogs to compare prices and see what’s new for the year.
Seed catalogs also give you more information about what you’re buying and have a quality guarantee that most stores don’t have.
Overall, here are four tips on how to buy quality seed:
1. Check The Date: If you do decide to buy seeds in the store, and not a catalog, make sure the current year is stamped on the envelope. If the date is not current, then don’t buy it, because fresh seed germinates better and more reliably than old seed.
2. Know The Difference Between Pelleted and Untreated Seed: Pelleted seed has been coated so the seeds are easier to handle and plant. Seeds that have been pelleted can look bigger than they actually are, so the packets may not really have that many seeds, they just look big. Read seed packets and catalogs carefully so you’re not disappointed if you end up with fewer seeds than you expected.
3. Look For Disease Resistance: If you have plants that regularly get certain diseases like powdery mildew or rust, look for disease-resistant cultivars. Compare several seed catalogs to see what they carry and find the best choices for your situation.
4. Know What Labels Mean: Some labels will have special names on them like: All-America Selections Winner, or Gold Ribbon Selection.
All American Selections Winner means that it has received an award for excellence after being tested in trial grounds throughout the United States and Canada. To receive the award, the cultivar must perform well around the entire country, so you have a good chance it is going to do well for you in your area. This doesn’t mean it will be the best cultivar for your garden, you mind find other cultivars that do better, but it is a sign of excellence.
Gold Ribbon Winner means it is a professional-grade product, and usually a high-priced hybrid that has some exceptional qualities to make it better than other seed.
Overall, read the information about seed carefully, and if you do buy from a catalog, the good news is that you can always contact them for more information and help in choosing what is going to perform really well for you.
Next week, we’re going to talk about how many seeds per packet you can expect.
Have good week!