here are several types of catalogues. The general catalogues include Burpee and Gurney. The regional include Harris Seeds and Johnny Seeds. Be careful because these catalogues have beautiful pictures and you will want to buy them all. Of course you will never be able to grow them and that is why you will want to follow this plan.

Let’s discuss the vegetable choice criteria. The best and safest way to buy seeds is to choose All-America Selections (AAS). You can recognize them by their special label. All AAS selections have been tested by a network of independent judges who have determined that their garden performance was superior.

The first thing to consider is that you want to grow seeds that have strong plant vigor and that are disease resistant. Second you want reliable productivity. And third, be aware of your space requirements depending on how large your garden will be.

Let’s review our simple starter garden. There are two types of lettuce, leaf and head lettuce. For specific varieties I recommend that you choose the following; leaf lettuce (Black Seeded Simpson and Green Salad Bowl) and head lettuce (Butter Crunch Harmony, MTO, Romaine). The leaf lettuces can be grown as blends and you can buy the seeds that way. Be sure to read what is in the blends because if they contain chicory then it may be too bitter for you. In that case you will want sweeter lettuce varieties such as bib or romaine.

You can choose any standard radish variety, but Ravanello is my favorite. For herbs, choose basil, thyme and oregano.

Cucumbers come in two varieties – Bush and Regular. Try growing the bush variety at in one of the last rows of the garden so that you get the benefit of overhanging plants and therefore use less room. If your garden is against a fence you can grow a climbing vine to save room.

To me tomatoes are the biggest joy of having your own garden. There is nothing like fresh, ripe tomatoes and you will want to choose several different types. The first criteria is that you want plants that are disease resistant, especially for the Fursilium Wilt 1 & 2 and Tobacco Mosaic Virus.

The second criterion is to choose plants with variable maturing times. Third be sure you know whether your tomatoes are determinate or indeterminate varieties. Determinate are easier for the first time gardener because they will only grow to a certain size, grow their fruit and stop. Indeterminate will keep growing until they die, and should be pruned back when you know it is too late for the fruits to ripen before the first frost. If you are in the Northeast like I am the season is 90 to 120 days, which means you need to cut the indeterminate back by late August.

Be sure to choose different types of tomatoes. I recommend that you choose a cherry tomato, either a red – Tom Thumb for container and Sweet 100’s and/or a yellow – Sugar Gold and Sun Gold. Cherry Tomatoes come early and I always plant a few. The Sun Gold is very sweet.

For your large tomatoes, try a Celebrity (determinate) 75 days; Jet Star (compact indeterminate) 72 days and/or a Supersonic (indeterminate) 79 days

Plum tomatoes are great for sauces. Try some of these - Pony Express F1 (determinate) 72 days; Roma VF (determinate) 75 days; and/or a San Marzano (indeterminate) 85 days.

You will want a mid-size and here are two excellent choices - Bush Early Girl F1 (determinate) 63 days and Carolina Gold F1 (determinate) 75 days.

Whether you buy seeds in a store or in a catalogue the same rules will apply.
In the past few years tens of millions of Americans grew vegetables and other edible plants for the first time, and when you taste the difference in what you grow yourself and what you can buy it is no surprise.

Besides taste, there are other factors contributing to this trend, such as an increasing locavore movement of people seeking out locally grown produce. You can see this with the increase of people looking for local, fresh grown produce in farmer’s markets and farm stands, much of which is often organic, but why not grow some of your own?

Other influences include the health benefits of eating fresh vegetables and fruits, a desire to lower grocery bills, and for many people an interest in getting closer to their natural environment, especially by younger people. This trend of younger people getting into home gardening is growing fast. The Garden Writers Association released a survey identifying national gardening trends for “Under 40” households. In a surprising trend, the younger generations are gardening in numbers similar to other age groups.

“In the most recent survey, when the under-40s were asked if they grow or take care of plants, 64% indicated “yes.” Those in the 25-40 age bracket has the same response as the average of the entire population (66%). No longer should we assume that Generation Y and Z are bypassing gardening until they reach middle age or older. Those 18-24, while fewer are gardening, are showing an impressive number as well (56%).” (Winter Gardening Trends Research Report, GWAF, 2010-2011)

I have been growing my own vegetables my whole life and understand the desire and interest on your part to do this as well, whatever your reasons may be. Whether you are a beginner or someone who just wants better results ,I feel the best thing I can do for you is to help you avoid some of the typical mistakes that I and many others have made.

Let’s talk about choosing your seeds. If you have not planned your garden, whether it is a few growing containers on your patio or a full in the ground garden, you might want to watch the first video called “Planning Your Garden.” The varieties that I suggested there for a typical starter garden of 4 feet by eight feet are the following. (A slightly smaller three feet by six feet garden will handle most of the same choices here.) The vegetables we chose are tomatoes, herbs, head lettuce, lettuce mix, bush beans, radishes and bush cucumbers. In this video you will learn about the different types of seed catalogues and how to use them to choose strong reliable disease resistant varieties.  The specific variety some of my favorite vegetables to plant are also reviewed.Guy is the head gardener for the PBS series Ciao Italia (  which for the past twenty-one years has featured  in each season several episodes based on his garden.
Choosing and Buying Seeds
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