Organizing My Seeds for Next Year

Well, this past garden season was a bit mediocre, but I’m looking ahead and starting to think about what I’m going to plant next year. This coming year, 2021 will be the only full year that I will have in Palo Alto to garden. I’ll move again in July of 2022, so I’ll only have half of a garden season in 2022.

To start my garden planning process, I organized my seed collection to figure out what I had to work with.

Here’s what I’ve got:

Flower Seeds: Marigolds, sweet peas, zinnias, and echinacea (all self-collected)

I planted the same marigold seeds this past year. I didn’t think they were spectacular, but I might try them again in a different spot to see if different conditions might improve them. I also plant a couple of each of the of the sweet peas, zinnias, and echinacea to see if my seed saving was successful.

Herbs: basil, holy basil, parsley, cilantro, and dill

Of the herbs, I’ll plant the Italian basil and cilantro (both the store bought and self-collected seeds to compare). I also have Thai basil that I’m trying to winter over. The parsley didn’t germinate for me this year in any of my three attempts, so I think this seed is a dud. I really want parsley, though, so I think I’ll buy a new seed packet.

Greens: kale and mustard greens

I grew these this past year, and they’re still puttering along in the garden. I expect they’ll likely winter over and will hopefully take off in the spring, so I probably won’t have to plant more of these.

Tomatoes!

I have one store-bought tomato and four kinds of self-collected seeds (some of which are hybrid, and won’t grow true). I think I’ll plant one of each to see what works and what doesn’t in this climate.

Root vegetables: carrots and beets

I tried planting these this year, and they were a failure. The beets came up, but a critter started chewing on their leaves before they were barely 2 inches tall. I’ll need netting if I’m going to try beets again. As for the carrots, I think maybe one carrot seed germinated, but it didn’t last long. I’m not sure if this is because the seed is too old, or if I let the soil dry up and that killed their germination. I might try again in the garden boxes, which have better soil than the in-ground area.

Onions!

Onions! I plan to try a handful of white bunching seeds and three walla wallas. I’ll start these indoors and wait until they’re a substantial size before transplanting them outside.

Peas and beans; Snow peas, sugar snap peas, blue lake pole

I’ll try growing these again this spring. I also saved one pod of blue lake pole beans, so I can test my self-collected seeds against the store-bought seeds.

Squash and curcubits

I don’t think the Armenian cucumber seeds have ever germinated for me, so if I want cucumbers, I’ll have to buy a new seed packet. I’ll plant a couple of zucchini squash plants again this year. I’m also planning to save the seeds from the mystery squash I harvest last month (assuming the seeds are salvagable) and I’ll plant those. I’d like to also pick up a packet of acorn squash or some other tried and true winter squash variety.

In summary (What I plan to grow next year):

— Flowers: A couple each of marigolds, zinnias, sweet peas, and echinacea

— Herbs: Italian basil, thai basil (overwintered), cilantro, and parsley*

— Greens: hopefully overwintered kale and mustard greens

— Tomatoes: 5 different types of tomatoes

— Root crops: 2 kinds of carrots and 1 kind of beet

— Peas and beans: Sugar snap, snow peas, and blue lake pole beans (x2 kinds of seed)

— Squash: Zucchini, cucumber*, mystery squash seed, acorn squash*

*will need to buy seed packets

I’m glad that I’ll be mostly using seeds that I have this coming year. I don’t expect a huge success given how my garden did this past year, so I’d rather start with what I’ve got and learn a little.

Now, I have to make a plan for starting seeds (timing, direct sow vs transplant, etc) and figure out where everything is going to go in the garden space. Exciting! I love planning!

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