It seems strange to think about buying vegetable garden seeds in winter, but believe it or not, this is the best time. Experienced gardeners know that buying seeds in winter sets you up perfectly for the spring. Also, with the current crisis and renewed interest in home-grown food, there are new reasons to get stocked up now.
Why Buy Seeds in Winter?
The majority of seed companies publish their new catalogs in December and January. Many of the seeds have limited supplies and are available on a first-come basis. Once they're gone, that's it. If you had your heart set on a particular variety or heirloom, you might miss out on it if you wait.
The most successful gardens are well-planned gardens. It's good to know well before the season starts which vegetables you'll be planting, as well as which varieties. Cherry tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes don't have the same space requirements. If you know which ones you're getting in advance, you can plan out your garden space appropriately. Do you need space for three types of bush beans, or only one? How much space does that pumpkin plant need?
Also, you need to give time for the seed company to ship your order. Sometimes there are back-orders, or the postal system is slow. Ordering the seeds well in advance of when you actually need them alleviates any last-minute stresses.
As most northern gardeners know, and many southern ones as well, starting early is the key to success! Cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are slow starters. If you want a flourishing crop of these vegetables and you live in zones 3, 4, or 5, the seeds need to be started indoors in March.
Alleviate The Winter Blues!
Short days and long, dark, cold nights are dismal for the soul. Perusing paper catalogs and online sites for new and exciting vegetable seeds is fun and engaging for the whole family. Let the kids pick out a few to try in their own little garden plots. Chances are, if they pick out the seed and grow them, they'll eat that vegetable too! It's a great way to encourage (stealthily!) the kids to eat healthier.
There are so many types of each vegetable available nowadays. It takes time to figure out the best varieties for your climate, grow zone, and garden space. Long winter nights are the best time to do this.
No Last Minute Buying Issues
If you neglect to get your seeds in winter, you'll face limited selection at home & garden stores. They usually only have 1-2 varieties for each type of seed. Sure, that is nice, but when you know there are actually 20-50 different types you could be growing, you know you're missing out. Buying in advance gives you better selection, better pricing, and eases the mind.
There has been a surge in gardening interest since the current pandemic started. Last year, there was more demand than some seed suppliers were prepared for. This led to delays, sold-out inventory, and a general lack of availability. Don't let this be your situation. If you wait, chances are you'll have trouble getting all the seeds you want. Companies this year are gearing up for higher demands, but as we all know, human behavior is hard to predict. It's best to be prepared, get the seeds now, and not worry about whether the companies will be ready with stock later.
No matter when you decide to buy seeds, always buy from reputable sellers who provide high-quality products. Your garden, literally, depends on it. Buy a variety of seeds and don't be afraid to try new ones. The only way to know if something will grow is to plant it. Happy gardening!