Choosing Seeds

I love to grow and eat tomatoes. The flavor and scent of a sun-ripened tomato just picked off the vine is incomparable to the pink balls found at the grocery store. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that not all tomatoes grow well in my area. And that the location of my tomato beds don’t get enough sun; tomatoes now grow within my backyard landscaping.

In choosing which seeds to plant, there are several factors to consider:

-Time of year and when you will plant. For instance, tomatoes need to flower and set fruit before the temperature is over 90 degrees or you won’t get any tomatoes. Setting out baby tomato seedlings in May when forecasted temperatures for June are 100°F is problematic.

-Sunlight availability. Some plants need full sun, like peppers and eggplants, while others will tolerate more shade, like lemon balm and parsley.

-Water availability. Crop plants need water to grow and make delicious fruits and vegetables. Do you have a sprinkler or drip irrigation? A handheld hose? A rain barrel and a watering can?

-How you’ll manage pests. If you’re planting lots of squash, be prepared to squish squash vine borers. Tomatoes attract tomato hornworms. Cabbages attract cabbage worms/moths, which will destroy your crop if you’re not eliminating them when they first show up.

-Zone. Check the USDA Plant Hardiness Map to find your zone, which can help you choose seeds.  This is especially important in choosing perennial plants like herbs, as well as fruit and nut trees. If your zone is too cold, you may need to plant these plants into pots so that you can bring them indoors to overwinter.

-Frost date. Find out when your last frost is predicted, and count backwards to plant foods such as tomatoes, eggplant, herbs, and peppers indoors so that you can get a jump on the season.

Happy planting!

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