Main forum: I'm new to gardening. Where do I buy good seeds from??

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caresmom5
Mar 11, 2013 6:11 PM CST
I am wanting to start a garden in the spring. I live in western NY and have no idea where to buy good seeds. I'm hesitant to just buy them from Walmart. Are they ok? Or is there some better source without spending a fortune. I am interested in doing some larger containers of carrots, scallion, shallots, garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers and strawberries if they will grow in my climate. I have no idea what type of soil to use, when to plant or where to get the seeds. Any help pointing me in the right direction would be very much appreciated. Thanks!!!
Imagebitbit
Mar 12, 2013 6:20 PM CST
Name: bit
Eastern VA and NC
Zone 7b/8a
Hi Caresmom! Fancy seeing you here Whistling

I've had success with seeds from Wal-Mart, but generally haven't been impressed with their selection. If you see something you like there and the price is right, go for it.

Local garden centers will often have seeds or plants that are suited to your climate, as well as staff who know the local conditions well, so they tend to be my #1 choice. I can find a couple in Rochester on Google, but you might want to ask Sue, since I know she has one she loves, or another local gardener.

For soil, you have a lot of options, it can be overwhelming and everyone has their own preferences. I like to make up my containers with a mix of soil from my garden (but I'm on sand, if your soil is heavy clay, I'd recommend against it for containers - potting soil is a fine alternative), compost, and lighter organic material like decomposing leaves or pine straw. Sometimes I'll mix in some peat moss or coconut coir to make the containers weigh less, especially if I think I'll be moving them. If that's too overwhelming, you can buy bagged soil that's ready to go, but not all bags of soil are the same. This article has a lot of good info: http://jetta17.hubpages.com/hub/The-Best-Potting-Soils-Top-F... Even if you don't find those particular brands locally, you can look for something with similar ingredients.

As for when to plant, that will depend on your climate. Cubits' sister site has a great planning app, and I don't think you need to create an account there to use it: http://allthingsplants.com/apps/calendar/ Just put in your zip code, and it will give you a custom calendar for when to plant in your area. Don't fret if you get a late start, most plants are pretty flexible and you don't have very hot summers that can kill plants in the south.

I've grown everything you listed except shallots, and I think they should all grow in your climate, as long as you choose the right varieties. Carrots can take a long time to reach mature size, but even if your season gets cut short, you can harvest them early as baby carrots. For containers, I recommend "half-long" varieties, which will get a shorter, fatter root than standard carrots.

Peppers and tomatoes require a bit of root space, so you'll do best with varieties bred for containers - there are quite a few! For tomatoes, "determinate" is a good keyword to know - it means the plant will set all its fruit at once, which is helpful with a short summer. Determinate tomato plants also tend to be smaller, so they're good for containers. As a general rule, smaller-fruited varieties will produce earlier and more heavily, so mini bells or long sweet peppers (I grow a type called Giant Marconi - it's as big as a typical bell, just a different shape) might do better for you than bells, and cherry tomatoes are more suited to a patio than beefsteaks.

Corn and cucumbers are similar - they tend to be very large plants, but you can find smaller varieties that are better suited to container growing. Burpee has a new container corn out this year that's supposed to be the best ever for small spaces - I can't vouch for it, and it is a bit pricey, but it's worth a try if you really love fresh corn: http://www.burpee.com/vegetables/corn/corn-on-deck-hybrid-pr... You can look for "bush" cucumbers, or install a trellis over your container so the vines can climb rather than sprawl if you want a tidier garden.

Garlic requires a long season to produce good-size bulbs. In my climate, we plant in October and harvest the following summer, but I'm not entirely sure of the schedule in an area with cold winters. Maybe someone else will chime in on that one.

Whew, this post got long. Sorry to be rambly, but I hope you get something useful out of it.

Imagemarti
Mar 13, 2013 11:17 AM CST
Name: Mary (Marti) Nelson
Ventura, CA
Peace and long life
You need to join a seed swap here on cubits. That's were I get most of my seeds and have had very good luck with them.
Although I live on a 1/2 acre, I can not get down on the ground to garden, so this year my veggie garden will be in planters and tire towers. I'm collecting anything that I can plant in from 5 gallon buckets to tubs. Plus having the container garden will keep the dog out of the garden and prevent him from tearing up things. At least until I get the garden fenced off from him.
Tahlmorra lujhala mei wiccan
(The fate of a man rests always within the hands of the gods)
Imagebitbit
Mar 13, 2013 1:22 PM CST
Name: bit
Eastern VA and NC
Zone 7b/8a
Yes, Marti! I second that suggestion. I was only thinking of commercial seed above, but trades are actually how I get most of mine Thumbs up

I've participated the last two years in the Piggy Swap over on Ella's Garden: http://cubits.org/ellasgarden/ (the site is a bit overwhelming at first, but once the swap is underway you learn quickly... and the other piggies are very helpful). Unfortunately, it has just passed and won't be back until next winter. Marti, do you know of any spring swaps that Caresmom might be able to join?
Imagemarti
Mar 13, 2013 1:43 PM CST
Name: Mary (Marti) Nelson
Ventura, CA
Peace and long life
Not off hand, but I've always found that if I post what I'm looking for someone will come thru with some seeds.
Tahlmorra lujhala mei wiccan
(The fate of a man rests always within the hands of the gods)

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