Purchasing garden seed

We are ending our gardening season so now we will be thinking about next year. There are three important considerations in purchasing your garden seed. First, we need to decide what plants we want for next year. Second, we need to decide where we will purchase the seed, bulbs and plants. And thirdly we should look at our budget and price availability.

The Master Gardeners, under the supervision of the University of Minnesota, do seed trials for eight different types of plants each year. This year 240 Master Gardeners did trials on six varieties of eight different plants. Five were vegetables, one herb and two flowers. Each year eight different plants are tested. The results are available on the University of Minnesota Master Gardeners website. We test germination, taste, productivity and if we would recommend this plant to a new gardener. Example, the tests on basil, a herb, showed that Queen Siam basil holds flavor the best in slow cooking. This information is not available on seed packets. The University does its own testing on new types of plant varieties, but the Master Gardeners do trials on seed varieties that are already available from nursery and seed companies. This is seed you can buy in the store.

Each individual purchases seed where they want to. The best seed prices are online before the seed catalogs come out in January and in the store after most people have planted their garden. Before the pandemic, some seed companies would offer seeds for fifty percent off before the catalogs came out. In 2020 when the pandemic hit, gardening in America went up 30%. There were not such big price discounts on seed. Hopefully the seed companies are up on stock again and at least one is offering 40% discounts already.

Some gardeners have so much fun buying seed that they purchase way too much just like a hungry person in the grocery store. So plan before you buy so you do not have a lot of extra seed left over in June.

Enjoy your garden and eat good.