For some, garden planning is a year-round affair. This is mostly because the United States is broken up into different parts known as growing zones. Depending on your growing zone, you may be able to grow and harvest crops outdoors no matter the time of year (like Zones 10-13). For others, gardening outdoors may only be possible for certain increments of time and therefore knowing when to buy seeds, and even when to start them, can be some very important information to have!
Good to know: seeds do not flat-out expire as time goes on.
What does happen to an aging seed, however, is simply that its rate of germination begins to diminish. This is a completely natural occurrence. Due to the fact that seeds do not expire, many gardeners will buy and/or collect seeds at any time and store whichever ones they don’t use.
Storing seeds is simple, you just need the proper storing conditions. Seeds should be stored in a cool (preferably below 50 degrees Fahrenheit), dark place. The moisture content within a seed greatly affects the seeds viability. Because of this, the level of moisture where your seeds are stored should remain relatively stable. You can keep seeds in their original packaging for identification purposes and then store them in containers. Many gardeners may use plastic containers or mason jars for seed storing. Whatever container you choose, be sure that it is airtight.
Don't plan on using all of the seeds you're buying? You can always store any of the seeds that you do not end up using right away.
With that covered, let’s get to the real question you came here for: When should you start buying seeds for your next outdoor growing season? The answer is really whenever you’re ready! But it doesn’t hurt to take these factors into account when buying seeds and planning your next garden:
• Your geographic location (or your growing zone)
• Plant type (what kind of conditions and environment this plant will flourish in)
• Sowing instructions (on each seed packet you will receive instructions and tips specific to sowing and growing the seeds inside of your packet)
As a general rule of thumb, you can start most seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before your areas final frost date. This means, for example, if you’re in growing zone 6b you can start your seeds indoors roughly around the beginning of March. Therefore, you could (and probably should) start buying your seeds around January and February! Buying your seeds sooner than that wouldn’t hurt either.
Keep in mind that some plants will not transplant well and should not be started indoors. This is where having the sowing instructions on your seed packet will come in handy. The sowing instructions on these types of plants will typically suggest you sow your seeds directly outdoors after threat of frost has passed.
This year, Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) has changed many facets of life for people and gardening has not been excluded. In all actuality, many people have taken up gardening while they’ve been home adjusting to the new normal. The demand for seed starting supplies and seeds has greatly increased both in-store and online. Knowing this, we cannot guarantee that the seeds you’re looking for will be In Stock at all times (especially during peak season) so it may be a safe bet to plan on buying your seeds earlier than you’re used to for the 2021 season!
We’ve put together this Stored Seed Viability Reference List for you which gives you Seed Types and generalized longevity of that seed under proper storing conditions:
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Unsure of the right time to buy seeds? This article can answer that!
This piece will cover growing zones, seed storing, garden planning and how these factors are all relevant while considering when you should buy seeds for your next growing season.