5 Steps for Making Seed Choices

This time of the year it seems like there are a million and one choices for seeds.  The catalogs have been rolling in at record paces enticing us with beautiful pictures of what we could have in our gardens but how do you figure out what you need to buy especially if your trying to save money?  The first step is to figure out what you have.  After you’ve done that you need to familiarize yourself with where you can find seeds and then you get to the fun part, selecting the seeds.  I have a 5 step process that works well for me that might help you too.

Steps for Selecting Seeds

  1. Peruse catalogs as they come arrive.
  2. Mark anything and everything I see that I might like.
  3. Write a master list of all the seeds I want.
  4. Eliminate anything similar to what I already have or can get through trades and fellow gardeners.
  5. Make the final list.

I spend several weeks examining the catalogs and seeing all the options.  I think it’s necessary so that I can look impassively at the plants and objectively pick what I need.  The truth is there are very few things I need but there are plants that will suit various purposes and projects like my self-sowing garden.  

Nasturtium, sweet peas, and zinnias all made my list so I mark them in the catalog along with anything else I might want.  I do the same with the vegetables and even any perennials, shrubs and trees that may be present.  I mark everything that I have any interest in to put on my master list.  I won’t purchase from every catalog but looking at all of them helps me to make a list for future purchases, trades, or propagation. 

Once I’ve marked everything I make a list with the plant names, catalog company name, and price.  Then I compare prices, quantity of seed, and varieties.  In the past I’ve even checked the per seed cost of each packet and compared them company to company.  I eliminate everything that I already have from other sources like seed trades, seed that I’ve collected or been given.  Then what’s left on the list is my seed order.  This year’s order will be small since I have many of the seeds I need already and have picked some new one’s from various places.

It may sound complicated but once the information is written down it is very simple to make choices.  I hope this helps you to maximize your seed purchases!


Dave has written GrowingTheHomeGarden.com since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Dave,

    I’m a comparison shopper. Lately, I’ve been filling up the shopping cart on seed sites with my “wish lists” to see the total cost.

    Then, I take a screen shot with my computer!

    I abandon the shopping cart (really messes with their analytics, I’m sure).

    I have screen shots from several sources with the same seed list and costs. I not only look at cost, but # of seeds in each packet. It’s a lazy way to capture the info.


  2. Dave,

    There are five steps? I never get past the peruse catalogs and adding seeds to the online cart. Inevitably something distracts me and shut the computer down and lose all data. Later, I visit my favorite store and purchase the seeds! But i am not planning a vegetable garden–my seeds will be scattered about the garden.


  3. I’m an impulsive shopper and don’t too often do seeds anymore. But I’ll try to follow your steps-it would save my wallet a bit.

  4. You are truly an organized gardener Dave! Thanks for sharing the steps. It is hard to resist all the beautiful photos. 😉

  5. I love seed choosing time. I love the art on the packets. This is a great time of yearr. I’ll probably go back to where I purchase my seeds ever year. They are reliable.

  6. Hi Dave, you are so organized and methodical, a real scientist! And the per seed cost, a real accountant too! 🙂 And we all know you are a real gardener, great dad and husband and let us not forget blogger. That Jenny is a lucky woman!


    ps. we are in seed mode here too.

  7. How would you like to have over 20 (and still counting) catalogs to go thru?? Or maybe you have that many or more.

  8. I don’t spend too much time recording, thinking or writing down seeds I would like. I would be so confused. I like them, I plant them, if they do well, fine, if not, I do something different! You are amazing!

  9. Great info Dave. I need to follow your list. I have a lot of seeds left from last yr & probably the yr. before that. I too get oodles of seed catalogs.

  10. Cameron,

    You might say it’s lazy but that’s a good idea. A screen capture of your shopping cart would definitely help you to comparison shop.


    Our local store is where I get many of our seed. You can find many of the same varieties there as you can online.


    Right now I’m mostly a penny pincher!


    Your garden is pretty established already. Plant starts tend to be a more expensive than starting vegetables from seed but they are easier to get going!


    You’re welcome! Photos, what photos? 😉


    If you like a place then keep on ordering! Reliability is as important in gardening as anything else especially when talking seeds.


    I haven’t done a count but I might be near that. That’s why I say look at them when they come in that way you aren’t swamped by trying to look through 20 at a time. Of course if you follow Anna’s strategy and go with the one’s that are the most reliable for you you can weed those catalogs down fairly quickly.


    Thank you for saying “amazing” but I think “obsessed” would be more accurate! It may be I’m just trying to find something to do related to the garden this time of year.


    I’m in “use up the old seed mode.” I need to get the old stuff used up before its viability is gone!

  11. Hi,
    It sounds crazy, but I never thought about planning ahead on what seeds to get.

    thanks for the tip,

  12. Dave, you are such a thrifty shopper! So organized with your seeds and shopping. I just stand in front of the seed isle and read away and make my selections. I should be a better shopper and compare prices. Thanks for the tips!

  13. Dave, do you combine your seed orders with other seeding fanatics? I know some people who do this because really, who needs 75 zucchini seeds unless they’re growing for a food bank? That’s always been a wise tip (sharing seed orders) that seems to work well for some.

  14. Brian,

    Since we are on a very limited budget I try to examine everything before we do them. Besides it’s fun to look at the seeds!


    A list helps! Although I find that my list stays home and I end up with only my memory to guide me when I get to the store.


    I shared some seed last year with m parents and that’s a great way to reduce costs. I don’t know of anyone who does it in our area on a larger scale. I may do some investigating.

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