The current popularity boom in gardening that’s developed during deadlock has seen seed sales surge all around the world, with reports emerging of record demand. So, as more people turn to gardening as a hobby and stock up on seeds, what better time to give a quick guide to what you need to know about these embryonic plants.
From explaining seed types to purchase, to top tips for germination, this guide aims to help you give you the information you need to get the most from garden seeds.
Types of garden seeds
There are different types of garden seeds, which are categorised by how they’ve been grown or bred. The main three types of seeds you need to know about are heirloom, hybrid and open pollinated. There’s also the more controversial genetically modified organism, otherwise known as GMO seeds, but this guide will just focus on the three main types.
Each seed has different benefits and values, depending on your gardening interests and needs. Here’s the basics of what you need to know.
Open pollinated seeds
These are seeds that have been pollinated, such as by bees, birds, insects, the wind, or other natural mechanisms. As there are no restrictions on the pollen flow, open pollinated seeds tend to be more diverse and bring a lot of variation to plant populations.
A key benefit is that they can adapt well to local growing conditions and climates. The seed produced will also remain true to type each year, as long as the pollen is not shared between different varieties of the same species.
These are open-pollinated seeds that have been saved, sometimes for generations. They are time-tested and have a history of being passed down, like within a family or community. Some companies label heirloom seeds according to dates, such as being more than 50 years old, while others identify them by verifying the passing on of the seed through history.
These seeds come with the benefits of the open pollinated seed, while providing a colourful and interesting past. Heirloom fruits and vegetables are also generally known to produce a better taste and flavour and be more nutritious.
These are seeds that have cross pollinated between two types of similar plants, either naturally or by human intervention. They are often created through controlled methods where the pollen of one species is transferred to fertilise the flowers of another.
Hybrid seeds are usually easier and faster to grow and have a better and more consistent performance, which leads to larger and stronger plants. They’re also less affected by factors like environmental stress, insect pests and plant diseases.
Key benefits of growing from seeds
While buying plants and flowers when they’re fully grown can add instant colour and variety to your garden, planting seeds adds a great deal of excitement - making gardening more of an adventure, as you watch them grow.
As well as seeing the full gardening process in action, there are other benefits to growing your plants, flowers, fruit and vegetables from seeds too.
•If you’re on a tight budget, seeds can provide a cheaper and cost-effective approach to gardening.
•Seeds can open up your eyes to the big wide world of gardening, more than you ever imagined. Unlike, starter or plug plants and cuttings, there are hundreds of species only available in seed form.
•Knowing what type of seed you have, means you can know where it’s come from and that your plants, flowers and vegetables will be organic.
Top tips for germinating seeds
There’s a lot to keep in mind when it comes to getting the best from your seeds’ growth. Here are some top tips to help.
Pre-soak - It’s a good idea to pre-soak your seeds before you plant them, as it can help reduce your germination time.
Fresh packs - Sowing fresh seeds usually gives the best and fastest results, so ideally start with a new pack each year.
Follow instructions - Always stick to the instructions on the packet, especially for timing, temperature and light levels.
Clean or new - Hygiene goes a long way when sowing seeds, so use new or clean pots and trays, and a new bag of compost for the best results.
Go indoors - Consider starting growing your seeds indoors or undercover, and move outdoors once you get more experienced.
Soil - If you’re planting outside, break down your soil with a fork and then lightly rake over it.
Monitor - It’s wise to always monitor the environment in which your seeds are growing and keep an eye on changing conditions.
Water - Watering is essential, so get your watering right to give them the best chance at good, healthy growth.
Label - It’s a good idea to label your pots, trays and soil where you’ve sown your seeds, so you know what you’ve planted.
Protect - Use wire mesh or netting to protect your seeds from pests, animals and rodents.
We hope this guide to garden seeds has told what you need to know to help you get the best results. If you need any new gardening tools or equipment to further support your seed sowing, please get in touch for help and advice.