Understanding Seed Packets

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By Jannie Vaught

Pretty pictures with growing information. The pictures are often photos of the “Best” fully-grown vegetable. And when the one you planted didn’t look like that picture you are wondering what happened? Let’s start out with Your growing zone. Most packets will have a small picture of North America with colors going across from top to bottom. Find where you live and there is your growing zone. Now the package is a wealth of information for you to use. More than a pretty picture it is a miniature biography that reveals all the gardener needs to know to grow the seeds inside. Not all packets are the same but basically, they contain the same information. The front has the glossy picture, the weight, the price the Seed Company name, days to maturity, and if it is organic. The back is your guide. This has the complete plant name, common name, cultivar, and Latin name. There will be a description, color flower, or fruit size. Garden tip, for example, withstands summer heat, easy to grow. Then usually there is a chart. Type, Planting depth, thin too, sun/shade, height, days to germination, direct sow, start indoors. All of this is important. Timing, spacing a depth can make a good outcome. I made a tool to measure depth. it is a dibble or a 1 ft long piece of dowel with the tip pointed with permanent marks to measure. The thinning is when they have their first leaves and it is measured seedling plant to plant.

You can carefully remove these and re-pot them or finish a row or fill in gaps. The height helps to know how tall of a cage or stake you will need and these are best put in at the 3-week time especially tomatoes as this will be your time to prune. The packages also will say Heritage, non-GMO and some will say Bush variety, like traditional Blue Lake beans. A little confusing description. Some flowers packets will have a warning in red stating Not for human consumption, so pay attention. GMO means genetically modified, this is not cross-pollination but done intentionally for specific characteristics. Is GMO seed available to purchase at your local garden store? No. Unless you are a very large farm and have certification. Such as corn and soybeans. Sweet corn is not GMO but they have cross-pollinated to get that extra sweet. You are more likely to get this from the processed food you purchase with high fructose corn syrup.

Take time and read the labels on your food and on your seed packet. There is more information for the gardener to learn and do your own research. And remember we gave a long growing season and you can re-plant if necessary and have succession planting when one is done, plant the next crop.

Garden season is here!

Growing Green With Jannie