Shop Carefully For 2021 Garden Seeds

By Gary R. Bachman, MSU Extension Service

I’m in my 2021 garden planning mode right now, and along with many other intentional gardeners, I have my mind on seeds.

The intentional gardener needs to begin the New Year by purchasing seeds, but be aware that the source is important. Last week, I talked about how easy it is to go overboard as garden catalogs pile up at this time of year. How the seed companies entice us to buy more than we could possibly plant!

When I want to buy seeds for my home landscape, I like to shop the local, independent garden centers. Their seed racks are always a highlight of my gardening year. I was shopping this weekend, and the displays of onion sets and seed potatoes had just been put out. I had to get a couple of bags of white, yellow and red onion sets and red, yellow and blue seed potatoes.

Of course I realize these were impulse buys. If you do any kind of gardening, you know that impulse buying without knowing where the plant is going to be placed is part of the game. But being an intentional gardener means you must control these impulses. I was already planning on buying these onions and potatoes, although I had not planned on doing it this weekend.

Now the thing about the display racks of seeds is that the selection is generally limited to reliable garden standbys. This is the place to buy those standard seeds. But these garden center displays can’t offer the numerous specialty varieties because of the sheer numbers available.

That’s where the garden catalogs fit in. You can find exactly the variety you want, including the new selections you’ve read about. Be sure to order from reputable companies. My recommendation is to choose those that provide great products and even better customer service.

For example, I recently had a germination issue with a couple of varieties of lettuce I purchased from one of my favorite companies. I called, and they did some research on the lot number of the lettuce. They found there had been problems with those seeds. I had new packets of seeds in three days. That’s customer service.