It's Time to Buy Your Seeds + My Tips If You're Buying Seeds for the First Time

That's it! It's that time of the year!  The moment every gardener has been waiting for is finally here!

In December, seed companies send out their annual seed catalogs with the most beautiful pictures of their produces.  Therefore, it becomes difficult to make choices and buying seeds for your garden can quickly get overwhelming.  I'm gonna be honest, if it's your first time buying seeds, you're soon going to be asking yourself : ''Should I buy all the tomato options, or only most of them?'' 

I'm here to give you some tips to help you make those important decisions (stay in budget) and also to guide you toward the establishment of your first garden.  But I want to start by sharing all the companies that I buy seeds from.  There are no affiliate links in this article.  I only share those websites with you because I love how they work and they offer good varieties of seeds.

As I mentioned, most of the seed companies send out free catalogs to their costumers in the beginning of December.  You can request your free seed catalog on each company's website.  

Seed catalogs can turn out to be advantageous because they often contain bundles.  Here we have a Colored Beet Collection from Veseys catalogs containing 1 packet of each Merlin, Boldor and Chioggia varieties for 12.75$ / 20% discount.  We really like beets and I love to cook beet greens so this is a super cool bundle in my opinion.

Also, make sure to look for any discounts or free shipping.  Most of the companies will have some kind of deal during this season.

Veseys is a Canadian company founded by Arthur Veseys in the small community of York on Prince-Edouard-Island.  Mr. Veseys took an interest in testing the growing capabilities of different seed varieties suited for the cold Atlantic weather.  To this day, Veseys is selling seeds to gardeners all over North America.

Jardins de l'Écoumène
Les Jardins de l'écoumène is located in Saint-Damien in the province of Quebec.  The founders, Guylaine and Jean-François, are passionate about permaculture and made it the base of their landscaping for seed production.  Every variety sold by Les Jardins de l'Écoumène is certified organic.  They sell both heirloom and hybrid varieties.

Bakers Creek
If you're looking for rares varieties, Bakers Creek is the place for you.  What is interesting about Bakers Creek is that they sale heirloom varieties exclusively and each one has an awesome history.  You can even find heirloom seeds from the 19th century as well as Asian and Europeen varieties that you won't see anywhere else.  

This Canadian company from British-Colombia is on a mission to help repair the world by inspiring and teaching others about sustainable and organic growing practices.  Each year, the company founded by the Diamond family supports groups and organisations sharing common goals by donating seeds, leading to the establishment of environmental education programs around the World.  Dr. Bonnie Henry Pollinator Blend is a great example of their generosity as 100% of the sales will be donated to the Food Bank of Canada. LOVE THIS!! 💗

Located in Brandon, Manitoba, McKenzie has been selling seeds to canadians since 1896.  This is a very popular brand of seeds in Canada.  You can find McKenzie seeds in almost every store starting at 1.89$.  Their website is a good ''one stop'' shopping spot for the first time gardener on a budget.

The main reasons why I mention OSC seeds is because it's a Canadian company and they have good prices.  Most of their seed packets start at 1.99$ which is a good price on the market at this time.  Compared to the other companies I mentioned, they don't have a ton of varieties, but they have enough choices for a first time gardener. Plus, all theirs seeds are suitable for our Canadian climate.

First of all, you'll have to accept that you can't buy ALL the seeds.  This is hard to hear, I know, but it's a fact! (Unless you have an unlimited budget, land and time to spend in the garden, then, go for it, buy all the seeds you want!)

OK.  Now that we've made that clear, we're gonna make some guidelines to help us determine what seeds we give ourselves permission to buy.

1. Set a budget for seeds
Depending on where you shop, seed packets can sell for anything between 1.89$ and 7.99$.  This can add up and quickly get out of hand.  Fix a budget and try to keep it in mind while looking at seed options. If you are just starting your seed collection, try to stay under 60$.

2. What space do you have
How big is your garden?  Do you grow in buckets instead?  How sunny is your growing space?  Ask yourself these questions and DRAW A MAP of your garden.  Figure out how many square feet of growing space you have, taking note of the sun exposure of each spot.  I really like to use Excel for this task.

Once you've done that, check out some information about square foot gardening as well as vertical gardening.  This will give you a better idea of how many seeds you'll need depending on the type of plant you want to grow.

3. What do you eat
The biggest mistake you could make is planting things you don't eat or not planting enough plants to make a meal.  So ask yourself what you like to eat and figure out how much you need to plant for it to be valuable.  If you only have 1 square foot for beans, be ready to harvest 5 beans everyday, which is not enough for a meal.  Maybe this space could be used for a tomato plant instead, who will yield around 10 to 20 pounds of tomatoes in a season, depending on the variety.  But don't plant tomatoes if you don't eat tomatoes, that's a waste of time, money and space.  

On the contrary, two summer squash plants (zucchini) are more than enough.  You don't want to grow more than what you can eat or donate.  So take your time to figure out what varieties you need to be able to profit from your garden as much as possible.

4. Are you planning to start your seeds inside?
If you have a growing setup to start your seedlings indoors, that's awesome!  You can basically buy any cold or warm weather crop and start them in March an April, according to each plant needs.  If, on the other hand, you don't have a growing setup, don't worry!  You just have to buy seeds that grow well when directly sown into the ground and buy the other plants that you want to grow at a nursery when it's time to plan your garden.

5. Choose the right varieties
Make sure you buy the right varieties for what you want to use your produces for.  Do you want a product that will store through winter?  Then you want to look for a good storage variety. If you're growing in pots, you need to take this into consideration and maybe choose dwarf varieties.  

While choosing your varieties, also make sure to check their need of sun exposure.  If you have a garden that is mostly shaded, you might want to plan swiss chard over peppers because they require less hours of sun exposure per day.

6. Buy only one of each
This is our golden rule : you're allowed to buy only one variety of each type of plant.  So if you decided to plant carrots, lettuce, beets, tomatoes, you can only buy one packet of each.  I know this is going to be difficult.  But this is important if you want to have a good variety of vegetables and stay in your budget as well.

In conclusion, I suggest you take the time to prepare yourself before seed shopping.  Always keep in mind your garden plan as well as your budget and try not to overload your shopping cart.  Instead, follow the golden rule and only buy one variety of each type of plant.  You'll take pleasure into slowly growing your seed collection each year.  

Happy seed shopping!

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