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Buying seeds

Buying seeds

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Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

I am often asked what company has the best seeds. The answer is what do you mean by best?

The seed industry is a carefully regulated industry that has many stringent rules and regulations. The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has a seed lab that oversees the regulations of sales of all seeds in the state.

Seeds must meet certain requirements for germination and purity before they can be sold. From this standpoint all the seeds you buy are ``good.'' This means they are true to type and will germinate. What is not in the guarantee is that they will grow and produce abundantly in your garden.

Quite simply, seeds are not purchased by brand name but by variety name. It makes little, if any, difference what company name is on top of the package or where you purchase the seed. The genetic varieties do make a significant difference in the seeds selected for our area.

New gardeners, unsure about which varieties to select, should get a copy of the USU recommended variety list. This list is available at all USU offices or online at

These varieties have been tested and produce well under Utah conditions. Many varieties are unproductive in our area because of the short growing season and hot dry conditions. Selecting recommended varieties is one important way to insure a successful garden.

Favorite varieties not only need to be productive but must also be tasty. Your preference is the final decision as to what is best to grow in your garden. It does not matter how well it produces; if you don't like it, don't waste the space in your garden trying to grow it.

Some varieties are long-time garden favorites. Others are newer hybrids that are more expensive and harder to find. Some complain at the high cost of seed, but seed costs are a minor part of the overall production costs. In many cases the choice of the right variety makes the difference between luscious, abundant produce and no crop.

Selecting and purchasing garden seeds can be one of the most enjoyable garden pastimes. The beautiful pictures on the packets or in the catalogs give us hope of a bountiful harvest of tasty, flavorful vegetables and beautiful flowers.

Where should you buy seeds? You may need to draw from several sources. Seeds should be purchased by variety name not company name. For example, ``Celebrity'' tomatoes are genetically identical whether purchased from a catalog in the East or Midwest or from the local garden center. Many of our local nurseries are now carrying an excellent selection of varieties adapted to our local conditions.

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