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Seed Packets

Growing a plant from seed can be a very rewarding experience.  Here are a few tips to consider when shopping for seeds.

Gardeners should buy seeds from a reputable source such as a local garden center or seed catalog company. Local garden centers will offer a small selection of seeds that should grow well in your area, while seed catalogs will offer an overwhelming selection. Most seed catalog companies will have online or digital catalogs as well as offering print copies. If you have not ordered from a seed catalog company, ask other gardeners for their suggestion or look for online reviews. Additionally, how long as the company been in business.

Seed packets contain a wealth of inforhortmation for gardeners. Information on a seed packet will include: common name of seed, number of seeds in packet or weight of seeds, country of origin, year seed is packed for and sell by date, lot number, company name and address. In addition packets may also include a picture, scientific name, description of plant, hardiness zone, mature size of plant, where to plant- light and water needs, when to plant, depth to plant the seeds, how far apart to plant seeds, how far apart to place rows, number of days until seedlings emerge (germinate), days to harvest, and harvesting information.

Leftover seed should be stored in a cool, dark, dry location. One way to store seeds is in an airtight container placed in the refrigerator. To absorb excess moisture, add a layer of uncooked rice to the bottom of the container. Properly stored vegetable seeds can be viable for 1 to 5 years. As seeds get older, the germination rate and viability will decrease. For more information on life expectancy of specific vegetable seeds, visit Iowa State University website,

I keep empty seed packets until the start of the next garden season. This helps me remember what I planted. I also keep a journal of when I planted, specifically what I planted, a garden map, harvest dates and amount of harvest. If a plant has a low yield, or significant insect and disease issues I might try it again, but more than likely I will look for a different selection for the following year.

Source: Jennifer Fishburn, horticulture educator, University of Illinois Extension