It's winter here in the PNW and the garden may be resting but it's time for gardeners to get busy planning for spring & summer gardening! You may already be getting seed catalogs in the mail and, like me, sat down with your sharpie and some tea or maybe even a glass of wine to start marking the must-haves for this season.
I love shopping for seed in the dark days of winter and imagining the lush spring and summer garden in full production. Before you go crazy here are a few things to consider and a few of my favorite seed companies and resources:
The Benefits of Planting from Seed
There are many benefits of purchasing seed versus transplants. Here are just a few:
Cost - Pre-grown garden starts are expensive. A six-pack of starts can cost you as much as an entire seed packet with 30 or more seeds.
Quantity - As above, purchasing seeds gains you a lot more plants. This is especially important for the produce that you enjoy the most or use a lot of, like lettuce and greens.
Success - the success rate of plants started in the garden from seed is improved due to better acclimation and root development. Transplanting always causes some stress to plants. Plus, you know where the seed came from and that it is acclimated to your climate.
Variety - Unique and rare heirlooms, organic, and many unique varieties are available from seed that are not available as starts in your local nursery. Nurseries can only carry so many varieties and often growers choose only popular varieties that buyers will recognize.
When choosing what seeds to purchase, it is important that you purchase seeds that are local to your growing climate. Here in the Pacific Northwest, I choose seed from growers in Washington and Oregon. The seeds from these companies are from plants grown successfully in our region, meaning they are adapted to our climate conditions and will have better success rates.
Before choosing a new-to-you seed company, it's important to do your own research:
Do they grow their own seed or purchase from others?
Do they have a commitment to sourcing from local growers?
What are the growing practices? Do they grow organically or have a commitment to sustainable agriculture?
Buyer beware: There are a few 'seedy' sellers on marketplace sites like Facebook and Etsy that often times purchase from other companies and repackage it as their own. Some of these companies do not provide growing information or date their seed packets so you have no guarantee of the age of the seed.
Learn more about the Open Source Seed Initiative and "Free the Seed"
Plan now for summer crops and indoor seed starting
Plan to purchase your summer seeds now so you are ready to start some seeds indoor in early spring. Some plants require a longer growing season so must be started indoors six to eight weeks ahead of the first frost and transitioned out into the garden after the temperatures increase. Tomatoes and peppers are examples of warm weather crops that need to be started indoors in early spring in order to reach maturity by the end of our short growing season.
Need help deciding what to start indoors versus direct seeding? See the resource lists below for links to my favorite planting guides from Territorial Seeds and Uprising Seeds. And, check out my upcoming classes including Seed Starting and Spring Gardening as well as gardening services such as coaching, design and planting plans!
Take a Class: If you are new to indoor seed starting and feeling a little overwhelmed by the idea of it, check out my upcoming Indoor Seed Starting Classes that begin in February!
Here's a list of my favorite local (PNW) seed companies:
Some links are provided below, however, please see the respective websites for up to date info and policies.
Located in Oregon
ALL organic, see their seed pledge here
Great info on learning to save your own seed
The lowest price for organic seed, however not much selection
FREE Shipping on orders over $50
Get a FREE seed packet to grow for their PLANT A ROW FOR THE HUNGRY program
Located in Southern Oregon
Unique and unusual medicinal herbs, plus lots of veggies too
Thorough growing information on their site and seed packets
Free shipping with a $20 purchase (seed packets only)
Located in Oregon
Great selection of organic options
Seed packets and catalog have comprehensive growing info. Excellent for beginning gardeners!
The most accurate growing guides for the PNW region
Located in Bellingham, WA
GET free seeds or GIVE free seeds with their GROW IT FORWARD program
If you have any questions or would like help planning your garden, contact Marni at GrowingRootsTogether@gmail.com or click the button below for more information about garden coaching and garden design services.