It’s winter, it’s snowy, it’s cold here – a great time to snuggle up in a blanket and dream about the summer garden. Now is a good time to get the seeds, to be ready for spring planting. Getting seeds for the new growing season is best by saving them. Only open pollinated seeds can be saved. The second best is to buy heirloom, open pollinated, naturally, or organically grown seeds from local growers or seed companies – or from a seed company that is in an environment similar to yours.
What seeds to choose
Before getting seeds you have to know your frost free days. Here is a link for Canada and USA. In our region it is 106, which means that all my seeds, no matter where I get them from, should have less than 106 days to maturity to be able to mature and bear fruit here. If it is a continuous fruit bearing plant like tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, etc., the days to maturity should be at least 30 days less than the frost free days. That would allow the plant to produce for about a month. I usually try to stay between 50-70 days. If it is a one time harvesting plant like carrots or beets, the days to maturity can be the same as the frost free days.
Looking through a beautiful seed catalog can be misleading. It is better to think about your grocery list and what you actually want to eat. I still remember how strange our garage smelled after we had grown to many rutabagas and didn’t know what to do with them. We put them into the garage and forgot about them. No one was missing them at our house. After a while we noticed a strange smell, it took us some time to find out where it came from. We learned the lessen: If you do not want to eat it, don’t grow it! And if you don’t grow it, you sure do not need the seeds ;).
Where to get seeds
I have done both ordered seeds from a catalog or online, and bought seeds locally. The advantage of a catalog / online is that I can take the time to see what is available, compare varieties, and decide what we really want. Getting seeds locally can be advantageous in price especially if using special sales, and there are no shipping costs.
Remember it is good to chose a seed grower close to you or at least similar in climate. Take note where seed companies come from.
Here is a list of good, Canadian seed companies suited for our Prairie climate.
West Coast Seeds British Columbia (Not a Prairie seed company, but we have had great success with them for plants that are not so sensitive to weather like root vegetables and salads)
Prairie Garden Seeds in Saskatchewan
For more seeds in Canada go to Small Farm Seed Guide.
For seed companies in the USA I asked my friends at Homestead Bloggers Network. Here are some great seed companies they recommended:
- Select Seeds
- Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
- Territorial Seed Company
- Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company
- Johnny’s Selected Seed
- High Mowing Organic Seed
- Johnny’s Selected Seed
- Pinetree Garden Seeds
- Seeds of Change
- Wood Prairie Farm
- Seed Savers Exchange
- Bountiful Gardens
- Sow True Seed
For more safe seed companies worldwide go here: SAFE SEED RESOURCE LIST
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