Seed Money: 4 Ways to Spend Smart on Spring Plantings

Variety comes in catalogues, bomb packs, and phone apps

Last week Russian scientists found a 30,000-year-old Silene stenophylla plant whose seeds can reproduce. It was buried by squirrels in the Siberian Permafrost.  So how hard could it be for us to get a few seeds planted?

You can buy into the idea for just a few bucks. For example, a $4 seed packet will produce a 12-foot row of zinnias that would set you back $50 if you bought them inpots from the garden center.

Start by ordering one of the gorgeous catalogues that offer everything from new varieties of flowers to harvested heirloom vegetable. Techies can browse offerings online or on their smartphones. Then get your hands dirty, sprinkle some seeds and poke some soil for bulbs and set your spring garden in motion.

The Thompson and Morgan catalogue has roots going back to1855. UK experts also distribute seeds from their 20 different catalogues in the U.S. You can get them by mail or via their websites.  http://www.tmseeds.com/

Baker Creek Heirloom features 1400 rare and exotic heirloom vegetables and flowers illustrated with beautiful photos. http://rareseeds.com/

The free catalogue from the non-profit Bountiful Gardens offers untreated open-pollinated, non-GMO (they are NOT genetically modified) seed of heirloom quality for vegetables, herbs and flowers. http://www.bountifulgardens.org/

The online catalogue from Johnny’s Selected Seeds serves as the real deal for farmers who rely on the site for crop seeds. http://www.johnnyseeds.com/

Territorial Seed Co. in Oregon has a huge selection of garden flowers including California poppy, hollyhock, echinacea and the hard to find butterfly weed.


Local company Renees Garden supplies Burbank’s Sheridan Gardens and other nurseries with carousels of seed packets. Choose from wildflowers, heirloom flowers, perennials and annuals. New for 2012 Zinnia, “Raspberry Sorbet” and Salvia, “Coral Nymph.” Online at http://www.reneesgarden.com/

New England’s 200-year old Comstock, Ferre and Co. supplier champions heirloom seeds. http://comstockferre.com/

Select Seeds Antique Flowers specializes in old-fashioned fragrant varieties, flowering vines, and rare cottage garden annuals.  The packets offers gardeners unique, high-quality flower seeds and plants, some of which have been passed from one generation to another. http://www.selectseeds.com/

Burpee, the granddaddy of catalogues, also offers seed starting supplies http://www.burpee.com/

Botanical Interests sells its organic seeds at Whole Foods and also has an app ($5.99 through iTunes) that allows customers to search its entire seed catalog of more than 300 varieties.

A friend with seeds is a friend indeed. Seed Savers, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds collecting and distributing thousands of samples of rare garden seeds to other gardeners. http://www.seedsavers.org/

Made from a mixture of clay, compost, and seeds, Greenaid “seedbombs” can be thrown anonymously into derelict urban sites to transform them into green places. You can begin such guerilla gardening by buying bombs in bulk for $15 (slingshots sold separately $7.99) or with loose pocket change from vending gumball machines (check it out at The Moca Store 250 South Grand, Avenue or Amoeba Music
6400 W Sunset Blvd). http://greenaid.co/


You can grow these hardy annuals from seed outside now: Cosmos, Nasturtiums, Sweet peas, Alyssum, Larkspur, poppies and zinnias.

Plant Snapdragon, Nicotiana, Lavatera, impatiens indoors first.

Soak and nick Lupine, sweet peas and morning glories before planting because they have very tough seed coats.

Harvest seed heads with a pair of embroidery scissors. If you use them soon, place them in two pages of old telephone directories sealed at three sides and label. If you plan to wait, store seeds in airtight container.

Use an old cigar box for seed storage, design your own seed envelopes, add tweezers and labeling pen.

Robert Pummer February 28, 2012 at 01:12 PM
30,000 year old seeds is a hard story to beat. I have heard of wheat seed sprouted from pyramid finds, but that is only one tenth the age of these Silene stenophylla seeds. Wow! http://www.startingseedsindoors.com
Tracy Elliott February 28, 2012 at 05:40 PM
I can't wait to do some guerilla gardening !!! Sunset Mag. this month has a beautiful boxed set of seed bon bons. Check it out, Or better yet make your own and have a "ball"
Marla Hart February 28, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Thanks to Robert for the link to his comprehensive article on planting seeds indoors, especially for addressing germination. And Tracy, you're the woman! My hat's always off to you. When I write something about gardens, I think, "oh I bet Tracy knows all about this and MORE!" have a "ball" ha!


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