When I was first ask to write an article about seeds my mind shot off in a million different directions. There was so much to write and so little space. After rewriting this article 3 times I think I finally have it down to a reasonable scope. For those of you who have not discovered the joy and satisfaction of growing your own plants from seed, you are in for a treat. For veteran seed starters, there are many new varieties of seeds to experiment with.
There are a few terms you should be familiar with before choosing your seeds. If you are a seed saver and it is important that your seeds always come up the same year after year, then you need to use heirloom or non hybridized seeds. Heirloom seeds are seeds that have been passed down for generations without any alterations in their breeding. These seeds will always give you the same plant and fruit as the parent plant the seed was saved from. Heirloom seeds have been passed along for a long time because of their vigor or disease resistance or great tasting fruit. A lot of heirloom seeds are selective for certain regions or climates. If you are not interested in saving seed from year to year then it is not necessary for you to buy heirloom seeds although you still can.
Hybridized seeds are seeds that have been bred for a specific trait. Parent plants have been selectively cross pollinated to produce plants with better disease resistance, bigger fruit or any trait to make the plant more desirable. These crosses are not genetically modified. They are natural pollinations that have been done by hand. Both hybrid and heirloom seeds are very good for your garden. Both of these types of seeds can be organic.
Seeds labeled organic are from plants that have met the strict government standards required to be awarded the organic label. These plants have been grown without pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers. Seeds that are genetically modified or GMO seeds have had their DNA modified by scientists in a lab. There is a lot of controversy surrounding GMO seeds. All of our seed suppliers at Maas have pledged not to sell GMO seeds.
Because there are as many ways to start seeds as there are seed starting gardeners, I’m going to skip over how to start your seeds. All of our seed packets have instructions on seed starting and all of us here at Maas are available and very eager to give you our own favorite seed starting methods. Urban gardening has become a popular buzz phrase recently. To you and me all it means is growing your own food either in your own backyard or a neighborhood or community garden. If you have limited space and want a vegetable garden you have lots of options. Our seed suppliers: Renee’s Garden, Cornucopia, Botanical Interest, and Seed Saver’s Exchange all have seed varieties that are great for small gardens and containers. Growing vegetables from seed gives a limited space gardener more varieties of vegetables from which to choose. Pretty much all vegetables can be grown in containers if the container is large enough. The varieties I’m going to discuss are space saving varieties. Most seeds do best if they are planted where they are going to grow. This doesn’t mean that you can’t start your seeds, tomatoes for example, inside in a warm place with some light. If you decide to start your seeds indoors it is best to start them in a compostable container that can be planted directly in the ground or pot. (Here I go giving you my seed starting preferences!) There are a lot of products available to help you succeed in your seed starting endeavors. I like to start most of my veggies directly in the containers or small gardens they are going to grow in. Seeds need good moist, but not wet, soil to germinate in. Here at Maas we have found that a thin layer of worm castings is a great seed starting medium. We filled our pots with organic soil and spread a layer of castings on top. It worked great. Because we have some huge pots we have grown some huge vegetables.
Here are some scaled down versions that are great to plant in smaller containers or gardens. All greenleafy veggies can be grown in containers. Some mini versions are: Pixie Baby Napa Cabbage, Garden Babies Lettuce, Jade Gem Lettuce, Sweetie Baby Romaine, Toy Choy Bok Choy, Dwarf Blue Curled Kale, Lavewa Spinach and Tom Thumb Lettuce. You can plant Round Romeo Or Paris Market Carrots in containers because they are round instead of long and don’t need a lot of depth. The cucumbers Bush Slicer and Space master are bushy instead of vining plants so they take less space. Space saving eggplants are great to grow. The eggplant choices are Little Prince or Listada de Gandia. Tomatoes, peppers and squash are all popular vegetables to grow in our area and there are several choices of each for space saving. For tomatoes we have: Lizzano cherry tomatoes, Heirloom Stupice, Super Bush, Better Bush and Silver Fir. For peppers we have Mini Baby Belles and Sweet Cherry Pepper Blend. The Squash choices are Astia Zucchini, Summer Squash Cocozelle, and Emerald Delight Zucchini. Sugar snap peas can be grown up tomato cages in containers as well as bush type beans. Radishes are great for containers and there is even a pumpkin called Jack Be Little that is container friendly. This is my short list of mini veggies and it is by no means complete. Come visit us at Maas soon to see our entire selection of seeds.
Growing your own food is a very rewarding experience. Grow it in organic soil with organic fertilizer means you can be assured that there is nothing harmful about your vegetables. Grow the seeds with your kids and teach them the importance of gardening and organic food. But the most important reason to grow your own vegetables is that nothing can beat the taste of a freshly picked tomato or freshly pulled carrot. Come by, grab your seed choices and start planting today!