When sourcing and choosing seeds and plants for your garden, there are a number of important things to think about. In this article, we will cover some tips to help you make the right choices and select wisely.
Whether you are a new gardener, or have been gardening for years, it can still be helpful every now and then to go back to basics. Reviewing the basics can help you make sure you are making the right choices. Sourcing seeds and plants need not cost the earth, and taking some time to make sure you get it right can save time, money and effort down the line. It will also give you the best chance of success in your garden.
Choose Seeds and Plants Suited to Your Particular Garden
The first and most important thing to remember is that no two gardens are quite the same. What works very well in one garden won’t necessarily do as well in another. Of course you need to consider the climate in your area. But you also need to consider the microclimate conditions in your particular garden.
Think about sunlight and shade, wind, water. Consider your soil type, its pH, moisture retentiveness, and other characteristics. And make sure you match the seeds and plants with the conditions you can provide.
Of course, you will also need to consider whether you will be growing indoors, in a greenhouse or polytunnel, or outside in your garden. This will obviously also have a major bearing on which seeds and plants you should source and choose.
Choose Seeds and Plants Suited to You, Personally
Another important thing to think about is you. Think about what you and your family actually need or want. If you choose seeds and plants that work for you personally, you are far more likely to see things through and tend your garden successfully over time. And when you, for example, grow food you actually want to eat, this helps you garden without waste.
A number of new gardeners in particular make the mistake of choosing ‘typical’ fruits and vegetables. But if you don’t really care for brassicas, for example, it makes no sense to grow many of them. If you grow them at all. If you particular love something – say strawberries – then grow more of them. This might sound very obvious. But you would be surprised how many people don’t factor in family preferences when making their choices.
Source Seeds From as Close To Home as Possible
When you are sourcing seeds this year, you may find it more of a challenge to get the seeds you would like. Since many companies are experiencing increased demand and some smaller companies are struggling to keep up.
But even if you run into difficulties sourcing locally, you should avoid buying from too far away. There is a problem with buying seeds from a company located at a long distance from your home. The seeds they offer may not be well suited to the growing conditions where you live. If, for example, you live in the north of Scotland, seeds collected from plants grown in the south of England are unlikely to meet your needs.
If you cannot find seeds for sale close to where you live, it may be worthwhile attempting to approach local gardening groups or community gardeners. They may have some extras they can send your way. And even if they do not, they may be able to point you in the right direction. Even if they cannot help, it could benefit you to connect with other gardeners in your area.
Make Sure When Sourcing Seeds That Seeds and Plants Were/ Will Be Stored and Transported Safely
Wherever you source seeds and plants, make sure that you do not get seeds that are out of date. Make sure that they are still viable. And that they have not been stored or transported in such a way that they will not grow well.
Seeds that were stored or transported at temperatures that were too high or too low may not germinate. Or germination rates may be reduced. And plants that were not treated right during storage or transportation may not be as strong, and may struggle to establish well.
Consider Heritage Options That Allow For Seed Saving When Sourcing Seeds
When choosing seeds, it can make sense to choose heritage options, rather than F1 hybrids. When you choose heritage seeds, you are helping to maintain biodiversity in our seed stocks. And choosing non-hybrid options also often means that you will be able to save your own seeds from the plants that you grow.
When you save your own seeds, you can gradually create a plant stock that is ideally suited to the particular growing conditions in your garden. And of course, in future years, you will save money too.
Explore the Potential of Perennials When Sourcing Seeds and Plants
Another thing to consider when sourcing seeds and plants is the lifecycles of the options you are considering. Most gardeners who are interested in food production will focus on annual and biennial fruit and vegetables crops. But perennial plants can also offer great potential when it comes to creating a food producing garden.
Creating a forest garden rather than traditional vegetable beds can allow you to create a low maintenance food producing system. The yields from fruit and nut trees, fruiting canes and fruit bushes can be high. And there are also plenty of edible herbaceous perennials to consider.
Propagate Existing Plants For Free
Sourcing seeds and plants for your garden does not need to cost a lot of money. One way to save money when getting new plants for your garden is to propagate existing plants. Taking cuttings, layering or dividing existing plants in your own garden (or perhaps from a friend or neighbour’s garden) could help you fill your garden for free.
Learning how to propagate plants can save you a lot of money in your garden long term. And can also help you garden more sustainably since you will not need to bring new plastic packaging or plastic pots onto your property.
Consider Regrowing From Scraps
Finally, whether you find it easy to source new seeds and plants or not, there is one more option to consider. You can regrow a number of common vegetables and herbs from scraps. Rather than placing carrot tops, celery bases etc. in your compost heap, you can use them to regrow plants for your vegetable garden. This is an interesting option to consider if you want to save money and make the most of waste to grow more food.
These are just a few tips for sourcing seeds and plants for your garden. If you have your own tips to share, we’d love you to comment below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.