HORTICULTURE TIPS by Josh Steffen: Sensational Seasonal Seed Starting Part 1

I am often asked if I grow any of the plants at Wellfield from seed, and if so, how do I go about selecting and ordering seed for the Gardens? Most of what we order and grow ourselves each year are vegetables destined for the Sensory Garden.

The first thing I consider is the source. Several factors guide my supplier choices might include:

  • The ethical and sustainable practices of the supplier
  • Where is the seed grown, in relation to Wellfield’s location
  • And cost

Ethics might not jump to the forefront of your mind when considering seed, but I encourage you to consider a supplier’s growing practices. I seek out suppliers who strive to operate using organic practices. Some companies make it their mission to operate with practices that care for people and the earth. Next, ask yourself if you want to support  local, independent growers, or large agribusiness. The decision is personal, but has profound effects on the green industry.

How and where is the seed grown should also be considered. Is the seed locally harvested, within a fifty miles radius of you? Is the seed heirloom, passed down through several generations? This seed is tested, tried and true for years. You know it is adapted to the local climate. When this is not an option look again to their growing practices.

And finally, is the vegetable variety produced via open-pollination or is it an F1 hybrid? Hybrids come about from the crossing of other plant parents, and are often denoted as F1 or F2.  This often gives a trait such as bigger flowers or more vigor.  It is important to know if you want such traits, or if you want to collect seeds.  If you collect seeds from a hybrid, they won’t make the same plants.  For this you would need the parent plants (often a seed company trade secret).  To collect seeds that will come “true,” you should look for “open pollinated” (heirloom) varieties, often denoted as OP.