How to Buy Garden Seeds


Advantages to buying your own seeds and starting them indoors include the opportunity to try varieties not commonly sold as transplants and the ability to grow more plants inexpensively, Charlie Nardozzi of the National Gardening Association says. Whether purchasing from your local garden center or from a seed catalog, consider a few factors to make the best choices in seed selection.

Step 1

Buy seeds early, months before the gardening season to give time for starting seeds indoors. Start most seeds six to eight weeks before your expected last frost. Purchase seeds in December or January to reserve the seeds you want.

Step 2

Consider the importance you place on growing organic seeds or raising heirloom varieties. Find basic hybrid varieties at gardening stores. Purchase heirloom and organic varieties online or through seed catalogs, often at higher prices.

Step 3

Determine available space, location and sunlight. Consider whether you're going to plant the seeds in the ground or in pots or raised beds. Measure the area's width and depth. Spacing requirements vary widely among different varieties of like vegetables. For instance, most tomatoes do well in a large container, but Mortgage Lifter, a tomato variety known for its pound-size tomatoes, does better in the ground. Consider the amount of sun your garden area will receive. Many plants prefer full sunlight; some, like lettuce and spinach, grow well in shade.

Step 4

Consult your state university extension office to determine the varieties best suited for your area. Spend your energy growing vegetables you know will do well.

Step 5

Check freshness dates printed on the seed packet's back. If the year on the packet does not match the current year, don't buy the packet. Old seeds may not germinate or could produce weaker seedlings.


  • Iowa State University Extension: Planting a Home Vegetable Garden
  • North Carolina State University Extension: Home Vegetable Gardening
  • National Gardening Association: Getting Ready to Seed

Who Can Help

  • Cooperative Extension System Offices
Keywords: buy garden seeds, select garden seeds, starting seeds indoors, seed purchase considerations

About this Author

Sommer Sharon has a bachelor's degree in IT/Web management from the University of Phoenix and owns a Web consulting business. With more than 12 years of experience in the publishing industry, her work has included "Better Homes and Gardens," "Ladies' Home Journal," "MORE," "Country Home," "Midwest Living," and "American Baby." Sharon now contributes her editorial background by writing for several Internet publications.