OK, I might have jumped the gun just a bit, but I can’t help but get excited about spring because all of our garden seed has arrived and is on the floor. And there is nothing quite like shelves full of colourful seed packages for inciting a good dose of spring fever.
Now if you think that it is too early to buy seeds, you’re correct – well, sort of. True, there are only a select few varieties that should be started indoors in January, but the main problem with not buying seeds early is that some sell-out very quickly.
Every year, I talk to many gardeners who don’t start buying their seeds until March and April and are disappointed that some of their favourites are already sold-out.
And it seems that sold-out vegetables and fruits cause the greatest disappointment. For example, specific varieties of tomatoes like Mortgage Lifter, Stupice and Black Krim or "superfoods" like Kale or novelty vegetables like golden beets and corn salad (mache) top the list.
The strategy for avoiding disappointment is simple: Get the seeds early and hang on to them until you are ready to sow. All types of seed will store just fine provided you keep them in a dry spot that is not excessively warm.
I often get questions about whether or not seed is damaged if it is frozen. The quick answer is that seed – even seeds of hot weather crops like squash, cucumbers and melons – is not damaged by subzero temperatures. But never store any seed in your refrigerator. It’s not cold that is a problem, rather it’s moisture inside the fridge that is not good for longevity and viability.
One last word on storing seed. Watch for rodents. Mice absolutely love corn and cucumber seed.
Years ago we overwintered a 50lb bag of corn seed and a 20lb bag of cucumber seed in our shed. Come spring, there wasn’t a single seed of either vegetable left to plant. We assumed the shed was well sealed and rodent-proof but the mice managed to ‘break-in’ and enjoy a delicious feast.
I’ve since learned to never underestimate the ingenuity and adaptability of hungry mice. Keep all of your seed in sealed containers wherever you are planning on storing it.