We asked Mark Willis, vegetable seed manager at Harris Seeds in Rochester, for expert tips on how to get the most out of your seeds.
Buy from local seed companies. We’re testing all those varieties right here in New York. If you start buying from a company in New Mexico or California, things might not turn out as well as they would there. It’s always fun to try out something exotic, but in general you’ll want to grow varieties that are adaptable to your area.
The two biggest factors that destroy the vigor of seed are humidity and heat. So the more dry and cool you keep seed, the longer it’s going to store for you. Don’t put it in the refrigerator, which is very high in moisture, unless you can put it in an airtight container.
There are always great directions on seed packets. Be sure to follow temperature recommendations, because we put those on there for a reason. If you start items on your own that you would normally buy as transplants, such as tomatoes and peppers, don’t direct seed them into the garden but start them under controlled conditions in your home with lights and a heat mat, if you have one.
For more on local seeds, check out this piece.
These tips are excerpted from our feature on Harris Seeds in the March/April 2014 issue, available to subscribers on our online archive.
Photo by Jan Regan