The seed packet displays are here! The seed packet displays are here!

There is nobody who puts out the spring gardening supplies around here earlier than the big box home improvement stores, which in St. Louis are Lowes and Home Depot. I was at HD today to pick up some paint and other stuff not related to gardening, then remembered that I needed a couple of small clay saucers to put under the green onion pots. Glad I did, because as I made my way over to the indoor part of the garden department it looked like they had just rolled out the Burpee seed packet display earlier today.

It's been a long time since I've seen a pristine display like this. Usually there are empty slots, packages put back in the wrong places, or packets displayed upside down or even facing backwards. Seeing it "fresh" was very nice. (Disclaimer: all photos in this post taken with phone's camera)


I really had to resist the urge to just grabbing packets and putting them into my cart. I've done that before, and although it's a lot of fun, it's not the best way to plan a garden, especially if you have limited space. The seed packets are so colorful and inviting though, promising harvests of blue ribbon-winning vegetables or blankets of color and fragrance. How can you resist?

I mean, look at them! Five years ago I would have been grabbing some packets, basically on impulse: "yes, I'd love to grow these! Oh, wouldn't these others look cool!" I'd then end up with lots of nearly-full packets after growing a few plants from each envelope, some packets nearly worthless after I couldn't get specific plants to grow as expected.

Three years ago I would have avoided the impulse and actually put some thought into it: "I think I'm going to need more beet seeds this year" or "I'll try a different variety of spinach since that last one bolted too fast" -- but I still ended up with more seed packets than I needed, including four identical unopened packets of beet seeds and six different types of spinach.

A pristine display, untouched by more than a couple of people so far.

This year I'll be applying my greater experience, gardening wisdom, and knowledge about the limitations of my own yard and I won't -- Ooooooh, sunflowers!

No, wait. I don't really have space for sunflowers, unless I just put a couple here and there, and I think I already have seeds for several varieties from a few years back. Plus, there's always the driveway crack sunflowers to look forward to again next year.

So looking around, there actually are some plants that I'll probably give a try this year.

I'll give nasturtiums a try again. I grew them one summer and really liked them. Worth planting again I think.

Cosmos and zinnias too maybe. They're quite common, but I think they're pretty foolproof. As long as the deer don't love them, they're worth trying:

Flowers are easy for me to justify buying, because I can plant them almost anywhere in the yard. Veggies really have just one place they can go: the fenced veggie garden, where space is definitely limited.

As much as I like watermelon, and as appealing as the thought of growing my own is, I just don't have the room for it:

So temp me with your orange-fleshed watermelon all you want Burpee -- I'm passing on these (at least for today).

Swiss chard? Tomatoes? I'm definitely interested in both of those this year:

I'm not going to grab packets of the first varieties I see though -- I need to do a little more research. Careful selection is needed, especially in the case of tomatoes since I don't have room for dozens of plants.

Ah, one of my main weaknesses: herbs!

Luckily I grew several different basil varieties last year and never used them. So I've got some recent experience to temper my impulse. We really only use the sweet basil, so I'm going to focus on those this year. (Some of those basil plants never even made it into the ground last year!)

There are some herbs here I will probably grow this year that I haven't before: Stevia and caraway for instance. Cilantro too. Probably some parsley for the black swallowtail caterpillars too.

Burpee also has "organic" seeds available now:

I grow organically for the most part, and I understand the attraction of "organic", especially when it comes to food. I have to admit that I don't really get why seed needs to be certified "organic" though. It's how the plant is raised that's important, not how its parents were grown. Is there something I'm missing here?

One thing I do understand are these seed starting supplies:

For the most part they're a great way to grow plants from seed, especially the kits that use a tray of water and wicking system to keep the seedlings watered from below. I'll be using something like that again this year (unless some of the parts are broken), at least for some of my seedlings. Highly recommended.

I could seriously walk out of here today with twenty different packs of seeds, and if it were the end of February instead of the end of January I just might do that. But I don't really like buying all of my seeds from the same company or store -- I like to shop around a bit, and there are plenty of seed companies out there now.

Plenty of time left to plan before I have to start buying seeds too. The impulse to grab packets has passed.

For now.

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Steve Lau  – (January 30, 2011 at 12:14 PM)  

They need to start carrying some bamboo seeds on these racks. Anyways your new background picture with the shoot looks pretty cool.

Alan  – (January 30, 2011 at 12:55 PM)  

Seeing a packet of bamboo seeds available in these displays would be a shock! Sometimes you can find "weird" seeds, like "assorted cactus", but bamboo would be really pushing it. =)

Actually, I was hoping to find a packet of the cactus seeds. Maybe once more places get their seed displays out...

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (January 30, 2011 at 2:08 PM)  

Alan, you hit the nail on the head with this post. I'm a sucker for seeds, too, but I've resisted the urge for a while now because I'm terrible at keeping seedlings alive. When I buy seeds now, it's the scatter-here-and-there variety, like California poppies and cosmos, which are completely foolproof.

Nasturtiums self-seed to the point of becoming invasive but they're so cheerful, I don't mind. Plus, in our area they're done by early summer anyway since they don't like the heat.

The one I thing I will try this year are Oaxacan chili peppers, esp. chilhuacle. I love making mole sauces, and chilhuacle negro is an essential ingredient in Oaxacan black mole. It's impossible to find in store, even Mexican grocery stores of which we have quite a few, so I'm growing my own.

:: Bamboo and More ::

Alan  – (January 30, 2011 at 2:53 PM)  

I've had a packet of California poppy seeds for about 5 years. I've got to remember to scatter these somewhere this year!

Tip: for any seeds you scatter, if it's something you haven't grown before save a few seeds and germinate them inside. That way you'll know what the seedlings look like and won't yank all of the scattered ones out when weeding.

anne  – (January 30, 2011 at 3:55 PM)  

Wow, that is early for seed packet displays, even for growing inside! I only grow sugar snap and English peas from seed outdoors - I found it worked better than starting them indoors. I garden with perennials except for the already flowering pansies I buy for my one container so I am not tempted by seed packets other than the peas. (My town is noted for a commercial pansy grower who lived here and supplied pansies for the White House and is noted for his Giant Swiss Pansy so I always buy my pansies from the Historical Society.)For other vegetables and herbs, we have a local nursery with great seedlings and that's where I have fun choosing even though I wait until mid-May.

Steve Lau  – (January 30, 2011 at 5:40 PM)  

I find it much easier to scatter them on the ground when it is warm enough and let them germinate under natural conditions. That way they don't have the transplant shock.

The only seeds I've bought so far are ghost pepper seeds which are supposed to be the hottest peppers in the world.

Alan  – (January 31, 2011 at 7:10 AM)  

Anne -- most perennials just can't provide the season-long flower power of annuals. I grow mainly perennials too, but love some annuals in the mix as well. I do buy some veggie starts from local nurseries when it warms up too.

Steve -- scattering is definitely easier, but I've always had problems figuring out which are weeds and which are desired plants when I try something new. Plus if the rabbits get to them all, if I have some growing inside I have backups. =)

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