Every gardener I know gets the itch in early spring. When seed catalogues arrive in the mail, countless hours are spent drooling over the glossy pages. It’s easy to get carried away! However, if you are going to grow an efficient garden, you need to choose garden seeds based on your harvest needs!
Recognizing Your Harvest Needs
The first question to be asked is this: why do you raise a garden every year?
Some folks garden solely for the purpose of having a few fresh veggies during the summer. Others are more intense and hope to preserve a portion of what they grow for winter eating.
It’s important to recognize where you fall in the mix!
While our plan includes food for summer eating, at least one half of our garden also serves as our winter food supply. In our home, we practice a variety of preserving methods. Between the cold room, canning, freezing and fermenting, we try to eat home-grown food year ’round!
Knowing our harvest needs helps us know how to order our garden seeds.
Choosing Seeds Suited to Your Harvest Needs
If you want vegetables for summer eating only, you have it easy! Choose seeds that yield foods you and your family enjoy.
However, those of us who wish to preserve our home-grown food need a plan of action. Not only do we need to know how we are going to preserve our vegetables, we also need to buy seeds that produce food well suited to our preserving methods.
Three Examples For You
Allow me to give you a few examples of what I mean!
If planning to store carrots, potatoes or beets in a root cellar, you should buy seed varieties that are labeled as ‘storage’ or ‘winter keepers.’ These are most commonly found among heirloom seed companies.
Perhaps you’re interested in canning dill pickles? Be sure to purchase cucumber seed specifically known as a ‘pickling variety.’
Are you interested in overwintering squash in the barn or attic? If so, you ought to buy some ‘winter squash’ seed, along with your summer squash varieties!
Why You Should Record Your Seed Order and Harvest
For efficiency’s sake, you should consider starting a garden & harvest journal!
For each vegetable, record how many seed packages you ordered and how many you planted. Also record the germination rate, how much you ate fresh and (if preserving) the amount you managed to put up.
See how you fare with your preserved food! What did you use most of? Which was the first to go? Perhaps you need to cut back on growing a particular vegetable so you have space for more of another?
I always think I’ll remember the past year’s details. Sometimes I do, but more often, I don’t! Recording the above information will help you be more efficient in your spring seed order!
Lest You Become Discouraged
Learning how to choose garden seeds based on your harvest needs may take several years to perfect. Don’t be too hard on yourself in this time!
Enjoy the process and remember to document it! As time goes by, you’ll be able to more accurately order garden seeds that will fill both your fresh eating and preserving needs!