So you’re ready to plant your perfect garden. But maybe you’re not sure how to approach it. Do you want to plant a veggie patch? Or do you want to brighten up your outdoor space with wildflowers? And how do you even choose the right seed packets?
Gardening dates back to the time of Ancient Egyptians. But while this activity has been around for thousands of years, it can still be a little confusing. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about getting fancy or going through too much trouble when starting a garden. A little know-how about garden seeds will go a long way.
With that in mind, we put together this handy guide outlining what to look for when choosing seeds along with a few other essentials when planning your garden. We’ve also included tips for getting started with vegetable or flower seed packets. Even if you’ve never gardened before (and aren’t sure you have a green thumb), you’ll feel confident and ready to roll up your sleeves.
Picking Out Your Seed Packets
Now that you’ve decided to plant a garden, you get to choose which types of seeds you’ll grow. You’ve likely noticed seed packets with labels such as “hybrid” or “heirloom,” but you might not know what those terms mean.
Depending on your garden goals, some seed varieties will work better for you than others. Here’s a quick breakdown of heirloom seeds vs. hybrid seeds:
When you think of an heirloom, the idea of a memorable keepsake handed down from one generation to the next may come to mind. That association isn’t too far off. You see, heirloom seeds refer to plant and vegetable seeds that are more than 50 years old. In a sense, heirloom seeds allow you to grow the same variety of tomatoes or flowers your grandparents did.
Heirloom plant or vegetable seeds are open-pollinated. This means the plant will be pollinated by birds, the wind, or an insect pollinator such as bees. On the other hand, self-pollinated seeds pollinate themselves through blooming alone. It helps if Mother Nature (or you) lend a hand by giving the plant a shake now and then, but a plant will fare just fine without outside intervention. Heirloom plants are always open or self-pollinated, and each generation of plants must carry the same traits to “breed true.”
If you choose heirloom seed packets, look for dates on your seed package that assure you of their status. Or choose from a seed company that can trace and verify the seeds’ passing from one generation to the next.
We get to benefit from heirloom seeds through preservation, which is something to consider in your own garden. You can always grow fruits and vegetables for food and ignore the seeds, or plant to preserve the seeds for future gardening seasons. Depending on what you decide to grow, research how to best collect and save your seeds.
Hybrid seeds are what they sound like — crosses between two different types of plants. Typically, growers will take the best traits of one plant and combine it with another. The result may be a plant with superior resistance to disease or pests, a better taste, or higher-yielding harvests. If you’ve ever munched on seedless watermelon or grapes, you’ve eaten a hybrid.
While you can save seeds from hybrid plants, the end results are different from preserving heirloom seeds. You can count on heirloom seeds to produce consistent results year after year. With hybrids, there’s no guarantee that what you planted in the spring will be the same the following year, and it could take several generations of growing to ensure consistent results.
Tips for a Bountiful Garden
Now that you have a better idea about which type of seeds you want to pick, you’ll want to keep a few more things in mind to ensure you have a thriving garden.
Before you map out your garden plan, consider if your chosen seed favors a moisture-rich soil or one on the drier side. The climate of your region and the time of year you decide to plant will influence how your seeds will grow. For example, some seeds may fare better indoors under a grow light in the beginning. Once they’re strong enough, they can be transplanted to a garden bed outside. Alternatively, you could look into an aquaponic system if the outside environment is less than ideal.
You also want to pay attention to the germination rate of your seeds. Keep track of how many seeds you planted and note how many successfully broke through the soil. Several factors can influence the germination rate, such as soil condition, air temperature, as well as the age and quality of your seeds.
Back to the Roots seeds are always USDA-certified organic, non-GMO, and 100% grown in the USA. You can have peace of mind knowing exactly where your seeds come from. What’s more, our seeds are great for growing year-round and come with a germination guarantee. In fact, our research and development team verifies all seed quality. But if you have trouble getting your garden started, Back to the Roots will send you as many seeds as you need to succeed.
Deciding Between a Vegetable or Flower Garden
The best garden to choose is one that works for you and your family. Perhaps you want to beautify your outdoor space with a wildflower mix, or you’d like to have fun growing delicious herbs and veggies. Either way, consider planting what you genuinely love. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some ideas for how a vegetable or flower garden can take shape.
Herbs, Leafy Greens, and Everything In Between
If you want to grow things you can eat, an herb garden is an easy way to start. Whether you create a container garden or have raised beds outdoors, herbs can make a lovely addition to your cooking adventures.
Chives are part of the allium family (which includes leeks, onions, and garlic) and are easy to grow. Other herb seeds, such as basil, rosemary, sage, or parsley are also great for a beginner garden. Not sure where to start? We recommend our organic herb garden variety pack. It’s a collection of five flavorful herbs that make delicious additions to any dish.
As mentioned, the region you live in, along with the seasons, will influence what you should plant. Always do your research on a plant’s light, soil, and temperature requirements as well as which plants grow well next to each other. For instance, you can plant your watermelon and tomato seeds together — as long as you give them enough room, they should grow happy and healthy.
Don’t forget about cool-season crops when the weather changes. Arugula, radish, kale, and carrot seeds can all be planted in the summer so they’re hearty and ready for winter. While a winter frost can be devastating for some plants, other vegetables such as kale, are tastier for it.
Try getting started with a seed mix. A variety pack of organic seeds can help you maintain a garden throughout the year. You can pick and choose which vegetable seed packets you’d like to plant, and after you learn which plants you enjoy growing most, feel free to create your own custom seed packets by saving the seeds of your favorite heirloom crops for future seasons.
Brighten Up Your Outdoor Space With Flowers
Depending on your seed selection, you can attract an array of wildlife into your garden. Zinnias, bee balm, and lupine are wonderful for welcoming hummingbirds into your yard. Lavender, shasta daisy, and pot marigolds are all excellent choices if you’d like to create a butterfly garden. For color and vibrancy, pick up Texas bluebonnet, forget me not, or sunflower seeds to plant and beautify your outdoor spaces.
Regional wildflower seed mixes make it easy for you to know which flowers will grow best in your area. Plus, wildflowers are naturally low maintenance. If you’d like to get the most out of your garden without much work, wildflowers just might be what you’re looking for.
Getting the Most From Your Seed Packets
Getting started with your own garden can be a cinch when you choose top-quality seed packets. Back to the Roots is the only retail seed company with 100% USA grown seeds. We know you want the best for you and your family, and picking domestically produced seeds instead of imports helps you do just that. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting, and even more importantly, what you aren’t.
Deciding how to plan your garden might seem overwhelming at first, but rest assured — with a bit of knowledge, you can put on your gardening gloves and get to work! Whether you create an outdoor oasis or bring a bit of nature indoors, gardening is a rewarding experience to share with family and friends for years to come.