The Beginner’s Seed Guide Intro
Soon the birds will be singing. The eggs will be hatching. Blossoms will be blooming. And it will be spring. I can feel it lingering in the air. This means it is time to start buying seeds and planning our gardens. To prepare for the growing season that is right around the corner. I am here to help you prepare to plant the thriving garden of your dreams with this beginner’s seed guide. With many more gardening guides to come. Continue reading this post to learn the difference between heirloom, hybrid, organic, non-GMO, and open-pollinated. So you can better navigate the abundance of seed companies out there and what they offer. Let’s get planting, shall we?!
Our Garden Plan
I have been using a lot of my spare time to start planning out every inch of my garden. And buying all the seeds this past month. This year will be my third attempt at growing a garden. The first two years I was growing in my parent’s backyard, so I didn’t have full control of every element. But this year I have my own backyard up in Fort Collins. That I can turn into my dream garden oasis. So needless to say I went crazy for seeds this year.
We will be starting seeds indoors again with our grow light we bought from Gardeners Supply Company. We may even install a small greenhouse in our backyard. So we can succession plant for a more abundant harvest that we can share with our community. Now that I have most of the vegetables, flowers, and herbs that I want to grow picked out. It is time to start drawing out my garden plan and strategy. That is aimed at organic and biodynamic growing practices. I will be sharing my gardening strategy and plan in a future post. So feel free to follow along by subscribing to my emails so you don’t miss the next post.
What Kinds of Seeds Should I Buy?
When choosing your seeds it has to be done thoughtfully. This beginner’s seed guide is here to guide you through the process. The most ideal types of seeds you will want to buy are local first, and organic, heirloom, open-pollinated, and non-GMO. Let’s dive into all of these kinds of seeds in this beginner’s seed guide. So we can learn the crucial reasons why we need to choose organic seeds over conventional ones. That you typically find at any chain garden center and hardware store.
Buying your seeds from a local seed company or seed farmer has a ton of advantages. And this should be your first place to look when buying seeds. This is important because these seeds came from plants that have already had a chance to adapt to the same exact environment that you are growing in. So they will be able to grow quicker and more abundantly because they have already learned how to adapt. Plus when you buy local seeds you can avoid supporting mainstream seed companies. Especially the ones that are owned by billionaires. The ones that have a lot of hidden agendas that are dangerous to the health of humanity and the environment.
Another way to find local seeds is by finding a seed swap. Once you have gone through a season of gardening and have saved seeds from your plants. You can now trade with other local seed savers in your community.
The first thing to talk about in this beginner’s seed guide is organic. It is going to be the best option no matter what you are buying because it is preventing more toxic chemicals from leaching into our soil, rivers, oceans, natural landscapes, and our bodies. It may be hard to find every plant you want to grow as an organic seed. But make sure you check a few websites and your local garden center so you can buy organic seeds wherever they are available.
The residual residue on non-organic seeds is not the main concern because that is likely to be nonexistent once the plant is full-grown. The biggest concern is supporting smaller seed farmers with organic growing practices in the hopes to eliminate the need for pesticides that are killing us and our natural habitats.
This also means we have to be responsible gardeners that learn how to successfully grow our plants using organic and sustainable growing practices in our own backyards. Once we choose to be organic gardeners we will reap the reward of naturally growing plants that can withstand pests and diseases without the need for chemicals. Letting the nature of plant do what it is naturally set up to do. Which gives you seeds that are most ideal for saving.
If you are buying your seeds online it is best to look for the Safe Seed Pledge. This seal was “created in 1999, and helps to connect non-GMO seed sellers to the growing market of concerned gardeners and agricultural consumers. The Pledge allows businesses to declare that they “do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds,” thus assuring consumers of their commitment.”
Maybe you have heard of GMO’s aka Genetically Modified Organisms. But do you know what they are? GMO seeds are created in a laboratory, where they use biotechnology methods to alter the genetic makeup of these plants so that they have specific characteristics. One common modification is engineering the seeds so that they can withstand being sprayed by chemicals or may even produce pesticide compounds themselves.
GMO seeds are not the same as naturally producing seeds by cross-pollination in your garden when creating hybrids. Nor is there sufficient evidence telling us that these methods are safe for us to consume. So overall it is better to avoid this risk. Which is easily done if you are buying any kinds of seeds because it is not possible to buy GMO Seeds anywhere. Unless you are attempting to grow food from your grocery store food scraps, this is the only instance you will want to be careful about when growing food in your garden. You want to be buying seeds from a trusted grower like the ones I listed here.
Hybrids are created when pollination is controlled and two different varieties are crossbred. This can happen unintentionally by the wind or your friendly honey bee. But most often it is intentionally done by a curious gardener. Often with the goal in mind to produce a stronger plant that is resistant to things like disease, climate, and pests so the end result offers better yields.
F1(filial 1) means that a hybrid plant is the first generation from the controlled breeding. These seeds can still be certified organic as long as it is classified as F1. Many gardeners prefer to not buy hybrid seeds because when you save seeds from an F1 plant the next generation will be F2 which will be a completely different kind of plant. The F2 seeds and beyond will revert back to the qualities of their parent plants and can have unpredictable properties that can last many generations before they come stable enough to be classified as a different type of plant. Make sure to pay attention to this classification whenever buying seeds especially if you are wanting to start seed saving.
Heirloom seeds are at least 50 years old and are either open-pollinated or self-pollinated. This means that hybrids are not heirlooms. Heirloom varieties are normally passed down from generations of families, communities, or cultures. They all typically have an interesting story behind them. That is if you like old farming stories.
The characteristics of heirloom seeds always have the greatest flavors, colors, and amazing growing characteristics. Saving heirloom seeds will give you a great plant year after year and that is why they are any gardener’s first choice. Make sure to look for heirloom varieties that are adapted to your region for the best results.
Open Pollinated Seeds
Open Pollinated Seeds is a phrase you will commonly see on seed websites and seed packets. This means that the plant was open to the elements so that it can produce fruit and seeds. These plants are allowed to breed freely by natural means. This creates diversity among plants and can be ideal for seed saving, unlike hybrids. Just as long as cross-pollination was avoided between two varieties of the same kind of plant.
There are a few companies that I have been using that I am obsessed with and a few new ones that I am excited to try this year. I will be sharing all of the companies that I love and the ones I am excited to try on this blog post here.
I hope this beginner’s seed guide was a quick and helpful resource. The growing season is quickly approaching so if you are a beginner that needs to cram more garden information I will share some of my favorite books in another blog post soon. But you can also follow along on my garden journey this year because I will be sharing every detail on how to grow an abundant garden, so we can grow along together.
I will be sure to share my favorite growing techniques when it comes to organic, sustainable, bio-dynamic, and natural garden practices. I will be including what works and what doesn’t work so we can learn together. Both aspects are how we learn and become better gardeners and caretakers of the land we live on.