Selecting Heirloom Vegetable Seeds

Heirloom vegetable seeds

Heirlooms are great strains for specific climates. Most climates are not like Camarillo’s. Few place share our Mediterranean climate. we are lucky to have enough variety to choose from that we still get good results, sometimes better than their native locales due to our longer, milder growing season.

We have trouble getting seeds from the other Mediterranean zones due to the high cost and long delays of certifying the seeds as disease free for import. Thus, seeds from Chile and New Zealand are almost unavailable, with a single importer of Italian seeds. Theses ‘Seeds From Italy‘ are (for the most part – Italy is a big county) suited to our soil and climate. Not only do the grow well here, but they are selected for taste and texture, not suitability for machine picking…

With the correct varieties, heirlooms give incredible flavors unavailable to mere mortals. The tough part is finding those ambrosial varieties.

Best seeds for gardening

The best seeds for gardening come from climates like ours. As noted above, not all climates are anything like ours. Avoid crops that advise that heat is needed to develop best flavor – we simply won’t get it. Likewise, crops that require a deep cold soak will not due well since we don’t get a normal winter. Some crops, like garlic, onions and strawberries, required cold temperatures prior to planting for best results. You can harvest your own and refrigerate these to simulate winter.

California seeds sources include Renee’s Garden which maintains test growing grounds in several different California climate zones. I have had, for the most part, remarkable success with her selected varieties; see the notes on heat and cold above. I have documented many of the selections on the recommended vegetable page.

Plan you Vegetable Garden Planting

Choosing the right number of plants to grow is a problem, but more of a math problem than anything else. The idea is to get the most plants into an area without crowding them together. Crowding prevents predators from getting at the insects eating your plants, and prevents air movement, increasing chances of disease or more insects.

It is often a trade-off between too little space and too big a desire for fresh veggies. Err on the side of conservative as plants with adequate space produce more than those that are crowded, and do so with fewer problems.

Planting catalogs and seed packets all have spacing directions – follow them. You can use these dimensions when planning your garden to make the best use of the space available. Proper planning also allows your vegetable garden planting to put new crops in when old crops are ending. This does take planning ahead.

One simple solution is in a new on-line service called GroVeg. I use this program, and am now beta testing a new version with some great new additions. The program has been completely rewritten since I did this review of it previously and has some killer new features we asked for.

One of these features allows you to plan your garden in beds rather than rows, and it makes it easy to schedule plant’s time in the ground. This allows you to plan for succession plantings. This would still be a challenge, but the software knows how long each plant takes from seed to planting and from planting to harvest. It produces a calendar that shows you when each crop is in each period. It even sends you e-mails reminding you of upcoming tasks.

Read the next article: How to Start Vegetables from Seeds

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