The How-to of Vegetable Seed Selection

Whenever I browse through a seed catalog, I am as wide-eyed as a kid in a candy store.  So many choices and varieties make me want one of each!  My first list of “to purchase” seeds is always insanely long.  Here are a few of my tips to narrow down seed selections.

I live in southern Nevada smack dab in the middle of the Mojave Desert.  I need to be conscientious of water requirements, heat tolerance and drought tolerance.  My summer growing seasons are divided into two shorter seasons (before and after the heat of July and August) so I often look for seeds that have short maturity times.

Look for the following when seed shopping:

  • Time to Maturity
    The time to maturity is the average number of days from when you plant the seed in the garden to when you harvest. If you have a short summer growing season, like those in cold climates with short summers, shorter maturity times are advantageous to ensure harvest before the first frost.

    If you look at the tomato seeds offered by Hometown Seeds, there are maturity rates ranging from 52 days to 80 days.  Longer maturity times are great for those that have long mild summers, but consider also planting a few varieties that mature faster to have tomato harvest all summer long.

  • Temperature Tolerance
    Living in the desert, heat tolerance is an important factor for me when selecting seeds.  Even my cool weather garden needs to be able to tolerate warm weather because we often have sudden warm spells that can devastate a crop of lettuce.  One of my favorites is Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce since it can handle warmer weather and it has a sweet earthy taste that I love.
  • Moisture Tolerance
    If you garden in an area that receives a lot of rainfall, make sure your selections can handle the occasional soggy spell.  Endive Green Curled Ruffec is known to tolerate cold wet conditions.  Conversely, I am always on the lookout for drought tolerant seed varieties since here we only average just over four inches of rain per year.
  • Grow What You Like
    It may seem obvious, but if you and your family hate eating kale, don’t grow kale.  But if you love a vegetable, explore all the different varieties that are available.  Go beyond the nursery shelves and delve into the seed catalogs to discover all kinds of fun veggies, like Purple Haze Carrots and Yellow Doll Watermelon.

I love seed catalogs, especially in the winter when everything is cold windy outside, it is the promise the garden to arrive in a few short months.  In conclusion, know your garden’s conditions and know what you like, and you are sure to have a great garden next season!