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how to buy seeds

There's something about a fresh packet of seeds that feels filled with possibility for the upcoming growing season. And there are so many exciting varieties of vegetables, herbs, and even edible flowers to try out that paging through a seed catalog can make you feel like a kid in a candy story. However, it's easy to go a little overboard and end up with more seeds than you really need or ones that won't actually do well in your garden. You can avoid these pitfalls by keeping a few things in mind about which seeds are best for your needs and when to acquire them so you can start them at the right time.

When trying to decide which seeds to buy, figuring out how much room you have for growing them will help you narrow down the choices. If you have a small garden, you may want to avoid space-hogging vegetables such as sweet corn, pumpkins, or squash. Instead, focus on higher-yielding, more compact vegetables such as salad greens, radishes, bush beans, and peppers. Some vegetables are available in space-saving varieties (determinate versus indeterminate tomatoes, for example), which can help you maximize every inch of growing space you have.

2. Consider Your Space

The seemingly endless varieties you’ll find for sale in seed catalogs and online can be daunting. Here’s how to make smart selections you’ll enjoy growing and eating.

When picking out vegetable seeds to grow, think about the produce your family enjoys eating most. If you love spicy food, try growing a few hot pepper plants instead of just sweet bell peppers. If you're an eggplant fan, give an unusual variety such as small, green-skinned 'Applegreen' a whirl, along with your more standard purple varieties.

Vegetable varieties vary in how long it takes for them to mature, so you'll also need to make selections best suited to your climate. Start by checking the "days to harvest" information on the seed packet and calculating if your growing season is sufficiently long enough for the crop you want to grow. If you live in a northern climate with a shorter growing season, focus on faster-maturing varieties of garden seeds to ensure harvest before frost. In the South, you'll have an easier time growing plants such as okra that require a longer season of hot weather.

Because there’s never been a better time to start a vegetable garden.

It's official: the homegrown vegetable garden is making a major comeback this spring. With many of us spending more time at home and grocery shopping requiring extra precautions, many Americans are starting their own vegetable gardens, some for the very first time. According to Jack Whettam, sales and marketing manager at Hudson Valley Seed Co, orders have increased "by orders of magnitude" this year, and other seed companies report similar spikes in sales.

While many seed companies experienced shipping delays or had to take a short break to catch up on shipments earlier this April, most are currently back to accepting new orders. Translation: now is a great time to order and start planting all of those tomato, zucchini, and eggplant seeds. Buy vegetable seeds online at the sources below, then consult our month-by-month guide to learn what to plant when.