Sunday, December 30, 2012

How to read the back of your Vegetable Seeds Packet

You just recently picked up your vegetable seeds (or have received your Seeds of the Month Club seeds) that you are going to plant in your upcoming vegetable garden. You are fairly new to vegetable gardening, but wanted to give growing fresh veggies from seeds a go. You have a number of reasons as to why you would like to grow directly from vegetable seeds dancing through your head ranging from the challenge of growing from vegetable seeds up through, quite frankly, growing veggies directly from seeds is simply fun.

You turn over your vegetable seed packet to see what you have to do to your vegetable seeds to ensure you are successful at growing them, and what you see is a lot of vegetable gardening information, that you simply find confusing.

What does it mean to space out your vegetable seeds? What is vegetable seed spacing between rows? And what does it mean, Days until the vegetable seeds are mature? For many, the information on your vegetable seeds pack can be a little confusing. Hopefully, I can clarify a little of that vegetable seed information for you.

Planting Depth
Your planting depth, tells you exactly how deep or shallow your vegetable seeds should be planted. In our example packet of vegetable seeds, you see that your planting depth is a quarter to a half inch. That means your vegetable seeds should be planted no deeper than a half inch and no shallower than a quarter inch. This ensures that there is not too much soil op top of your vegetable seeds and just enough soil for your vegetable’s roots to take hold.

Seed Spacing
Once again using the example vegetable seed packet, you can see that the recommended vegetable seed spacing is two inches. When you initially plant your vegetable seeds make sure they are spaced out at the distance written on the vegetable seed packet. With smaller vegetable seeds, such as celery, it is nearly impossible to properly space out your vegetable seeds when initially planting them. In this case, plant plenty of those vegetable seeds and then when they sprout, use a pair of scissors and thin them out to the recommendation on the vegetable seeds packet.

Days to Germination
This piece of data lets you know how long it should take for your vegetable seeds to germinate. The information provided is the best case scenario (on the example vegetable seed packet that number would be five) up through the worst case scenario (on the example vegetable seed packet that number would be fourteen). The best case for your vegetable seeds would occur under optimal conditions, i.e., plenty of sun, regular watering, optimal temperatures, and ideal nutritional source for the vegetable seeds such as fertilizer or compost etc. Chances are your vegetable seeds will germinate closer to the middle of that range, although many have great success for their vegetable seeds closer to the optimal day.

Spacing after Thinning
When you initially plant your vegetable seeds as per the Seed Spacing recommendations discussed earlier, you would not leave your sprouted vegetable seeds at that distance. Your vegetable seeds simply would not grow well. What you have to do now is space your sprouted vegetable seeds out a bit further to give the vegetable plants’ roots (as well as the vegetable plant) plenty of room to grow. On the example vegetable seeds packet we see twelve to eighteen inches as the ideal range to space out your vegetable plants once they sprout, with twelve being the minimum. The more you space your vegetable plants out, the better chance they will have to grow large and in the case of tomatoes, peppers etc., they may even produce more fruit.

Days to Maturity
The days to maturity value on the back of your vegetable seeds packet is the recommended time frame as to when you can expect to harvest the vegetables you are growing. In the vegetable seed packet example provided, the days to maturity for Kale is fifty-five to seventy days. So, somewhere within that time frame your vegetables should be harvested. Conditions will also dictate this time frame as well, such as drought, heavy rains, and cold weather and so on. The days to maturity time frame on the back of your vegetable seeds packet is also a great gauge to use when your growing seasons are short. It will help you calculate exactly when to start your seeds indoors. All you need is the date of the last frost in your area (provided by the USDA frost zone map), days to germination (on your vegetable seed packet) and the days to maturity (on your vegetable seed packet) and you can calculate when you should start your vegetable seeds indoors.

Soil Depth (not shown)
You will never see this data on any vegetable seed packet, however, I wanted to bring it up, because it is very important for many who grow vegetable plants in pots or in raised bed vegetable gardens on patios. This is how deep your soil bed should be for your vegetable seeds. It is not written on the vegetable seed packets because of the room constraints of the vegetable seed packet itself, as well as assumption that they, the vegetable seeds, will be planted in a “regular” garden. Although, as you will come to find out, a regular vegetable garden is whatever you make it. As for depth, you want at least sixteen inches deep of soil as well as the recommended thinning space, to give the roots plenty of room to expand. The more room the better.

On one final note. You will see a copyright date on your vegetable seed packet. In this example you see “Copyright © 2012”. This is the copyright of the information on the vegetable seed packet itself, this date has absolutely nothing to do with the vegetable seeds inside the vegetable seed packet.

23 comments:

  1. Thanks for all your guidance.

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  2. I love planting the seeds and watching them sprout. Always amazes me how something so small can produce food for our tables.

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    Replies
    1. Congrats you are the winner of the book "Vegetable Gardening For The Average Person: A Guide To Vegetable Gardening For The Rest Of Us " ... please email me at mike@averagepersongardening.com so I know where to send it.

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  3. Thank you! This will help me in my first large garden. last year I planted a big handful of pumpkin seeds I had saved from the year before, before the frost. I thought they had all died, but in June they all came up at once and overtook my whole garden!

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  4. Marie C. Perez MirandaJanuary 4, 2013 at 7:46 AM

    In my experience it is very useful to read the info printed on the back of the seeds envelope because it will help with the guidance on how to plant the selected seed in you garden. With this info you will know when to expect germination as well as the distance on planting each individual plant.

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  5. I have not had very good luck growing from seed. Except for carrots. I think it's just to cold for to long in my little mico climate. I need a greenhouse if I'm ever going to have success with growing from seeds. So I have saved my seeds and will be building a greenhouse this year.

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  6. Thank you for the info. I found that using old egg cartons and a good potting mix allows me a cheap and good result way to get them started. They are easy to move in and out of the sunlight and as long as I keep a tray under it, the moisture retains quite well in the mix. Again, thanks for the advice.
    Eric Stevenson

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    Replies
    1. You should really post a name in the event you are chosen to win

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  7. I started enjoying growing my own from seed only after I found online gardening forums. After that I was hooked, and a world of varieties opened that will never be available as seedlings at my local garden shops.

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  8. I start my seeds indoors to get a good start on my planting season. I'm in Florida and by mid August, not much will grow well. I use some plant lights I got at Home Depot and my Aerogarden to get the seeds started. They love the lights and if you leave them fairly close at the beginning and then move up them up the plants don't become to tall too quickly.

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  9. I have grown some herbs and pumpkins and peas and green beans from seed and found it so rewarding! Especially when I was unable to plant my pumpkins until June last year and we still grew some pie pumpkins! I am excited to grow a whole slew of new seeds this year!

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  10. I start many of my veggies, 100 or more to a foil baking pan in sterile mix. When they are in their second leaf I move them to individual containers. This strengthens them and stimulates better root systems, and does not require a sterile potting mix for transplant. This is the way I maximize my limited space and resources. Cool weather crops must be started very early in the South, or they will not mature in the heat. If I wait until the plants show up in garden outlets, it's already getting late for planting here. So I do it myself.

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  11. This year my seeds were taking a little long to sprout. I read a few different things about placing my seed trays in the oven with only the oven light on to warm the seeds. Low and behold this morning several have sprouted. (Even though I forgot they were there and set the oven to preheat to 170 degrees yesterday).

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  12. i started growing from seed 2 years ago and haven't looked back since, cant believe plants can grow from something so small every seed is like a child as you see it grow over the season and you have to look after it every day i love gardening :)

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  13. Since I live in Montana where the winters are longer than the rest of the year, ordering and starting seeds is like spring in the house. I can't wait to place my seed order and start digging in the dirt and watch those little seeds grow into big healthy plants that will feed us.

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  14. Im struggling to learn to garden.. my daughter os vegan and I'm comitted to producing healthy foods for her family ans mine.

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  15. Best part of growing your owne veggies from seeds? Donating the excess to the local foodbank :)

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  16. Up north in Canada, we can't plant outside till late may or early June. Start Tomatoes and Jalapeno peppers in the house. Some usually die off, so I plant lots. Then when we transplant them to greenhouse, I have so many I can't "kill" anyone of them, we end up with this horrible jungle in the greenhouse, attacked by mountains of tomatoes and jalapenos. But, the Salsa at the end of growing season is AWESOME! Brand New to this club, just joined minutes ago, looking forward to my first shipment of seeds.

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  17. I've been gardening for 40+ years but never had any luck with seeds. This year, FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME, I am growing tomatoes from seed! I started six seeds of Razzleberry in my hydroponic/vertical stacking mixture of coco-fiber and vermiculite. Long story short, they are now about 9 inches tall and look just like the ones I used to buy in the store! Sweet success at last!

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  18. Plane and simple: It is one of life's most rewarding activities! Once you start, and have success, you won't want to stop! Do it with a family member or close friends! Starting plants from seed is something that I think of daily! It gives life to us and future generations.

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  19. The seed packets typically have all needed information on them. I grow many things from seed, both starting indoors & direct sowing. Indoors I have good success with starting cucumbers, squash, watermelon, canteloupe & herbs. Outside I direct sow lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, radishes, carrots and corn. I usually buy transplants for tomatoes, peppers & broccoli. Every year is different though.

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  20. Up north in Canada, we can't plant outside till late may or early June. Start Tomatoes and Jalapeno peppers in the house. Some usually die off, so I plant lots. Then when we transplant them to greenhouse, I have so many I can't "kill" anyone of them, we end up with this horrible jungle in the greenhouse, attacked by mountains of tomatoes and jalapenos. But, the Salsa at the end of growing season is AWESOME! Brand New to this club, just joined minutes ago, looking forward to my first shipment of seeds.

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  21. For the last 5 years, early February, I would start to sow seeds indoor while it would be snowing, icy soil, freezing temperature in this neck of the Poconos. I would make seedling pots out of recycling newspapers only. Thousands of seeds including at least 6 varieties of Tomatoes, 4 varieties of sweet & hot Peppers, and other veggies would be sown indoor in a 12'x12' heated room. It's a great feeling that I don't know how to describe enough of the process during this stage. From seed sprouting to first set of true leaves emerging. Then I would transfer each healthy seedlings into recycling Styrofoam cups with more soil and put under fluorescent lights. By end of April, May, and early June, my tomato plants would be 2' or 3' tall and I would start give out 80% of my seedlings(young plants I should call them)to my local garden friends, neighbors, bus stops, whomever ran into and like to garden. I am a lucky homemaker and very grateful to be able to do this and hope to be able to continue for many more years to help others to appreciate gardening and growing their food.

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