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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Seed Selection Process Part 2: Where Do I Find Seeds?

Where do I find the seeds for my gardening activities? Lot's of places! The most obvious location is in a store, either online or one of the old fashioned brick and mortar stores. The local Co-op always has seed to find as do the box stores (they have already begun putting out seeds for spring. You had better hurry they'll be putting out Halloween decorations soon!)

Aside from these obvious choices one of the best places to find seed is from your gardening friends! Gardening fanatics collect seed like baseball fans collect baseball cards. Rare seeds are met with the same excitement as a rare Mickey Mantle card found in an old shoebox in the attic, but any seed that you like is a great find! A quick search online with Google will find all sorts of seed swapping forums where you can find nearly anything you're looking for if you look long enough.

Just recently I made a donation to the American Horticultural Society to participate in their seed swap. You can donate what you wish but with a small donation of $5 you can get 10 varieties of seeds. If you do the math that comes to $.50 for each packet, a deal you just can't find in stores. These are all seeds that other gardeners around the country have gathered and sent in as donations. With that donation I should receive seeds from the following plants:

Panicum virgatum (a native Switch Grass)
Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Cosmos bipinnatus (2 varieties)
Nicotianna
Salvia coccinea
Verbena bonariensis
Zinnia elegans (8-10 inch zinnias)
Zinnia linearis (6-12 inch zinnias)
Rudbeckia fulgida


As alternates I chose an Amaranthus caudatus (Love Lies Bleeding) and another type of Cleome hassleriana. I try to find my seeds through seed swaps and trades before I go searching the catalogs. This helps me to keep the cost of seeds down a little. After all, I have to have money to buy more plants for the garden!

I prefer to purchase vegetable seeds from the stores as home collected seeds have a greater chance of hybridization through cross pollination. Of course you might end up with an interesting specimen that way. One year a tomato plant grew from our compost bucket on the back porch. As an experiment we planted it in a pot and let it bear fruit. The tomatoes were some of the best we had that year but they sure looked strange! I think they were a cross between a cherry tomato and a slicing tomato.

There are lots of options for finding seeds and you don't always have to go to the stores!

8 comments :

  1. Hi Dave,

    An interesting tomato tale...did you keep the seeds from that tomato? I am very curious to see what cross pollination will bring with the echinaceas...the bees visited the Tennessee Coneflower and the E purpureas all summer and I let them set seed and fall to the ground! Take care~~gail

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  2. Seed Savers Exchange is also a great resource Dave. Just in case you don't already have enough places to look for seed. ;~)

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  3. I was in Lowes today and spotted veggie and flower seeds in the Garden Dept. We went there for window casing but I can always find an excuse to get the Saint to the Garden Center. Tee hee... Tomorrow, we case 4 windows. Ah, what fun.

    Your tomato sounds interesting. Compost gardening for sure!

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  4. Hi Dave,
    I agree about getting your seeds now from the big box store. They sure won't last long.
    I like your info on the tomato plant. For the last 2 yrs. I've had a tomato plant come up volunteer that has very small fruit on it. They are the smallish ed tomatoes I've seen---not as big as a penny. But they have a good flavor. I had never had a tomato plant with small fruit on it in that pot before. Wonder what happened?

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  5. Do have the photos of that tomato, Dave. Curious to see them. It's always special to you when you get those strange varieties, right? Good luck with your veggies and great that you have the option of seed swapping! Have fun!

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  6. Gail,

    I didn't save the tomato seed since they tend to turn into hybrids. That would be interesting to see the hybrid of our native coneflower!

    TC,

    There are a ton of places out there! I need to figure out what I need. That's the next step before I buy anything.

    Skeeter,

    I went there yesterday to get a piece of weather stripping and it really does seem like spring with all the seed kiosks.

    Lola,

    It probably hybridized with something else. A small animal may have even brought a tomato from someone else's garden. I think some of the small one's have the best flavor.

    Chrandramouli,

    I'll have to look and see if I have a photo. I might but that may have been before our first digital camera!

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  7. Great tips on seed sourcing Dave. Sounds like the ones you will be getting from the American Horticultural Society will work great in your self-seeding garden you are planning. I noticed that my local big box was putting out seeds too.

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  8. Great info Dave! I need to get more involved myself in seed swapping. Anything to save a little $$. Gardening can be expensive if you let it. Thanks for sharing your tips!

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