Guide to Seed Catalogs
Alfrea Farming expert – Julie / March 2017
It’s the most wonderful time of year! Yes that’s right, it’s time to start making plans for your garden. It may be cold and gray outside but my table is full of color thanks to the beautiful seed catalogs I’ve received.
So how do you choose what to grow when the possibilities seem endless?
Here are 6 tips to Seed Catalogs.
1 – Not everything grows everywhere
Find out what plant hardiness zone you are in and learn what crops can grow in your area. Here in New Jersey, I’m in Zone 7.
2 – Grow what you like to eat
It seems obvious, but many newbie gardeners often overlook this and go for more exotic crops. Keeping a garden thriving in the heat of Summer requires some motivation. That mojo can be hard to muster if you’re not dreaming of the delicious dishes you plan on creating with your harvest.
3 – Buy from a reputable seed source
Those seeds sitting in your local hardware store might be a few years old leading to poor germination and a lack luster garden. If you do a quick search online for the best organic seed companies you’ll find some great options.
Some of the best seed connections on-line:
4 – All varieties are not created equal
Take tomatoes for example. Some varieties, especially heirlooms, can be the most delicious, but they can also be very hard to grow. They are more susceptible to disease and can crack and split very easily. Be honest with yourself. Are you willing to be give the time and attention an heirloom tomato may need or are you better off with an easier to grow hybrid? Read the seed catalog descriptions and talk to other local gardeners or farmers to see if they have any insight about what varieties will work well in your area.
5 – Assume 20% crop lost
Inevitably, poor germination, disease or pests will likely take out about 20% or your crop. That’s okay, especially when you plan for it. Order enough seed to cover any issue that you may encounter.
6 – Organic, treated, hybrid, heirloom?
It’s important to understand the terminology a seed company is using to describe their seeds. Make sure you find the companies definitions and understand what it is you are buying. No matter what seeds you choose, it’s important to remember, gardening is just as much art as it is science. No matter the outcome of your garden, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the land which you can use to improve your garden each year.
Cross reference Alfrea blog postings:
Alfrea was built to help gardeners and landowners connect.
Your Marketplace for Land Sharing, Garden Services, and connecting you to Fresh Local food.
Our Land Sharing option helps people who want to rent a garden plot, find landowners to want their space put to productive use. By starting a garden share, you can:
- Directly address the No. 1 problem facing would-be gardeners: lack of land
- Help reduce the backlog at community gardens
- Improve food security in your community
- Cultivate new friendships with like-minded neighbors
- Fight climate change by reducing food miles and restoring carbon to the soil.
Our Market/Produce Sharing option helps people who want to find / buy / sell local produce. Think online Farmers Market, you will have the capability to Sell and Buy Fresh Seasonal Produce offered.
Our Service Sharing option helps people find and or provide Garden Services. And if you want to earn money helping others in the garden, we make finding customers easy. Alfrea’s helping hands can:
- Water and weed
- Diagnose and treat pests
- Design and build new gardens
- Select and save seeds
- Till, top dress and build soil
- Build and manage compost piles
- Lift and haul heavy things
- Help with harvest and preservation
- Teach you how to improve your gardening
Our Apartment Amenity offering connects apartment communities with land and services to grow their own food. We work directly with apartment management companies and owners to design and implement garden spaces in order to differentiate their communities.
Our Corporate Wellness Gardening for your Employees. We offer multiple packages, with services including:
- Corporate campus garden design and implementation
- Ongoing garden maintenance
- Onsite and online workshops and training to engage employees
- Delivery of locally grown items from nearby farms directly to your office
- Metrics on employee usage
Alfrea can help. Would-be gardeners can find and rent a garden plot with a free membership; landowners looking to rent out space pay an affordable membership fee. Join for free today!