Monday, April 25, 2016

How to Read a Seed Packet by Paula Hamm

Photo by Paula Hamm
Growing plants from seed is incredibly rewarding and fascinating but there are a few things you need to know before you get started.  You can find nearly everything you need to know on the seed packet itself.  

First, every seed packet should list the common and Latin name of the seed inside the envelope.  It is not uncommon for more than one plant to have the same common name;  the Latin name can help you figure out whether the seed packet you are holding has the seeds you want.

Check for a date  on the packet to see if the seeds are fresh.  Some seeds last for a long time while others are only viable for a year or two after being harvested.  

Front of the seed packet:

  1. This is the price of the seed packet.
  2. This is the weight of the seeds contained in the packet.
  3. This is a picture of what the seeds will look like when ready to harvest.
  4. This tells how many days after germination the seeds will be ready to harvest.
  5. This tells the type of seed (beet) and the cultivar (Detroit Dark Red.)
  6. These seeds are heirloom seeds which means they will grow exactly like the parent plant.
  7. This is the name of the seed company.
Back of the seed packet:

The back of the seed packet is where most of the information about your seeds is contained.  
Photo by Paula Hamm
  1. This again gives you the type of vegetable seed, the cultivar and the Latin name.
  2. This is a picture of your plant as a seedling.  This helps identify the plant to know that your seeds have germinated.
  3. This is the planting chart for these seeds.  The chart tells you how deep to sow the seeds (1/2 inch), how far to space them out (4 inches between plants and 18 inches between rows), how many days it normally takes for the seeds to germinate (6 to12 days),  how many days after germination the beets will be ready to harvest (60 days), and approximately how many seeds are contained in the packet.
  4. This section gives information about your vegetable and how it can be used when mature.  This beet variety is perfect for canning, pickling, freezing or can be eaten raw in salads or cooked.
  5. This planting section provides specific information about when to plant and special planting tips to ensure success.
  6. This harvest section gives helpful hints about harvesting your crop.
  7. This stamped information tells you when the seeds were packed, the lot number and the expiration date.  Seeds do not really expire, but their germination rates will decrease as the seeds get older.  It also indicates that the seeds are non GMO-untreated seed.  Non GMO means the seeds are not genetically modified. And untreated seed means that it has not been treated with either Thiram or Captan. And, finally, the name and address of the seed company is listed.
I hope this information will be helpful the next time you look at seed packet displays in your favorite garden center.  Happy Gardening!