Don’t overlook lowly seed packets for gardening knowledge. They often pack a big lesson into their small space.
Seed packets have such a wealth of growing information but I think we often overlook how great they really are. We reference our favorite seed catalog or gardening book for the details to grow our favorite plants and discount the information right in front of us.
You can make the most of this information by keeping seed packets in your gardening journal to use for reference the next planting season. When you try a new variety, create a page in your journal and make note of all the variables.
- Date planted
- Days to actual germination
- Harvest notes
Not all packets will have the thorough information listed below, but every one of them will have the minimum needed for plant type and planting conditions.
A seed packet should give a thorough description of the plant. If you see a plant you love at the nursery, look for seeds to start your own for a fraction of the price. You’ll need the common name and botanical name to make sure you are getting the same plant.
- Annual, perennial, or biannual
- Common name and botanical name
- Seed type – organic, open pollinated, hybrid, heirloom
- Description of plant – leaves, edges, flavor, color
- When to sow (early spring, again in the fall)
- How to sow. is it best directly sown in the garden? thinly in rows, cover with fine soil, firm lightly, keep evenly moist
- Planting depth
- Seed spacing
- Days until germination
- Percentage of expected germination from seed
- Thinning requirements
Scarification of seeds is the method you may need to use to scratch or nick the seed if it has a hard coat. You’ll get better germination rates.
“Seed scarification was really easy to remember once I remembered that what you’re doing scarring seeds. A seed’s hard outer coat makes it impervious to gasses and moisture that would cause them to germinate. To overcome this you need to scratch, break or nick the seed coat. In nature, this naturally occurs when seeds pass through the digestive tract of some animals, through freezing temperatures or microbial activities that break down the seed coat.” Mr. Brown Thumb
Stratification – Some seeds require cold treatment before they will germinate and will not sprout until dormancy is broken. You can simulate winter conditions by starting treatment early in the season.
Soak the seeds for 12 to 24 hours and put them in a plastic bag with a wet paper towel. Seal the bag and place it in the refrigerator for 10 days. Label the container or bag so that you know which seeds they are. Check the seeds regularly to be sure that the paper towel is moist.
Follow the seed package directions for the exact length of days, and then check the seeds to see if they are sprouting. Plant as directed.
- Water requirements
- Soil requirements
- Sun requirements
- Special considerations – stake talk plants to prevent wind damage
- Height at maturity
- Adapted to containers – large fruit / small space
So don’t overlook the lowly seed packet for gardening knowledge. They often pack a big lesson into their small space and are a great addition to your garden journal.
P.S. Many seed packets are beautiful. My favorites include Botanical Interest and Renee’s Garden.