It’s easy to be seduced by the glossy pictures presented in the catalogues peddled by the multinational seed companies, or the online shops appearing to offer great deals, but don’t be too hasty to jump in and start buying without at least making yourself aware of all the options available to you.
Regular, Hybrid or Heirloom?
Firstly, seeds are not just seeds. One of the big distinctions and decisions you need to make is whether to buy regular seeds, hybrid seeds or
which are becoming less available – and are even being outlawed in some countries, because they allegedly threaten the profits of the big seed companies! (See this article)
This is very important information to be aware of. Make sure you see my short articles on
for clarification of exactly what they are, and why you might want to consider choosing regular or heirloom seeds where possible.
Saving seeds from shop-brought fruit and vegetables?
Some people like to save gardening seeds from the fruit and vegetables that they buy from supermarkets, but this isn’t necessarily a good move. Again - see the page on hybrid seeds to understand why.
Buying Gardening Seeds online
If you are looking to shop for seeds online, then BE CAREFUL! Not all companies are what they seem or are as reputable as they'll have you believe.
I have recently been caught out myself by a company offering a bulk supply of heirloom seeds for a seemingly great price, only to find shortly after ordering, a review page full of disgruntled and angry people who had been completely ripped off by the same company I’d just ordered from.
Fortunately, I was able to cancel the order and get my money back through the payment-handling company, but its living proof that you do have to be careful online.
Gardening seeds are big business and there is a lot of money to be made, so do be thorough when you are searching for gardening seeds online, and check the companies out thoroughly – including looking for independent reviews, before parting with any cash.
If you are in the UK, the best place for heirloom seeds I can recommend is a place (online) called The Real Seed Company. They are a non-profit organization, and based in Wales.
A penny of your order total goes towards your ‘seed club’ membership, because, again, thanks to the outrageous political influence of the big agriculture corporations, it is now illegal to buy and sell most types heirloom seeds in the UK and much of Europe unless it is done as a 'private club' activity.
If you are in the US, A highly reccomended supplier is Heirloom Organics, and you will find their link and advert banner on the left.
Don’t buy too much seed!
One of the common mistakes people make when buying seeds is to buy much more than they need. Seeds do not keep for very long, and if you buy heirloom or regular (non-hybrid) seeds, you can usually keep the seeds from some of the crop to grow again the following year, so large stocks are not necessary.
The only exception to this rule would be if the seeds were sealed in foil packs. Apparently, in many circumstances, foil-sealed seeds will last for many years as long as the packets are not opened and kept cool.
Organising your Seeds & Planning ahead
Most seeds need to be planted at specific times. One of the things I strongly reccomend, especially if you have a large variety of seeds, is to come up with a system that makes sure you plant your seeds on time, and takes away the task of trying to remember what you should be doing and when.
In the following video, I briefly discuss a method I came up with...
If you opt for heirloom seeds, There are a few things that you need to know about them in order to work with them successfully.
Obviously, you need to allow at least a few of your plants, preferably the biggest and strongest ones, to go to seed. this is to allow you to collect the seeds in order to grow them the following year.
Also with some types of heirloom plants, you do have to be careful not to grow more than one variety of the same type of plant at the same time, unless you have a very large plot of land and can keep them seperate. If you grow more thna one variety of, say, two different strains of cabbage, there is a possibility they can be cross-pollinated by the insects and this could create a hybrid of the original plant. The seeds you collect for the following year may produce a slightly diferent plant.