Here in Central Montana, it’s easy to forget that spring is NOT here: 60-70 degree weather, sunny days, sidewalk chalk, greening grass. Despite the sunny days and warm weekend, we all know that winter is not over quite yet. One way to stave off that spring fever is to start planning a garden. Seed catalogs are abound this time of year, and another option is to visit local suppliers like Parker Farms Greenhouse or Bundi Gardens who can offer the equipment AND the knowledge to help you get started. Before you start ordering your seeds, here are a few things to consider:
What grows well in our climate? How much space do I have? What do I like and how much of it can I eat or share?
One big consideration for us as market growers is how well the seed ‘keeps’. Is a particular seed viable for a few seasons or does it need to be used up in the coming season? Seed companies offer volume discounts, and buying seed in advance can save on shipping for the coming years. Just be sure your seeds are going to last if you order more than needed for this season. Poor germination in the garden can be frustrating, and reduced seed viability is a sneaky culprit.
ISU (Iowa State University) has a pretty straightforward chart showing seed life expectancy that might help in planning quantities your seed purchases: http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/1999/4-2-1999/veggielife.html.
Even though is might seem like spring has arrived, hold off on putting those seeds in the ground just yet!