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Thinking about next years fruit & veg

Hi everyone!
New to the forum and only been growing since March when I was put on furlough and decided to plant the really old bulbs and seed that I had in an attempt to keep the 4 year old entertained and give her a project.
Bearing in mind that I didn't research anything and just planted things in pots with normal compost, we've done pretty well with our experiments and it's given me the encouragement to do it properly next year.
With that in mind, I'm aware that I probably need to start thinking about it now. 
When is best to start growing seeds etc? 
We currently have potatoes, onions, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Garlic, Bell Peppers, Peas, Spinach, Beetroot, Strawberries, Coriander, Sage, Thyme, Lemon Balm, Chives, Rosemary. I've just put cabbage, Carrots & Rainbow Chard out.. Trying Parsnips as well but they're still seeds at the moment. 
I know I can do Potatoes, Onions, Tomatoes & Garlic from what I already have but which of the others will "keep" for next year and which do I need to buy again?

Thanks in advance


  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 7,424
    Hello, @chriscavell0683 and welcome!

    Many seeds will keep for a year or two, or more, if you keep them cool and dry (in an airtight box in the fridge, with a packet of silica gel).  Commercial packets often have a "sow by" date on them, but they'll often still germinate if you keep them longer.  There are a few things which really need to be used fresh but to be honest, I'd keep them all... you can sow a few seeds early next spring on damp kitchen paper in a plastic bag, and if they produce roots you know your batch is still viable.
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • herbaceousherbaceous E. BerksPosts: 2,278
    Good advice from Liriodendron especially the damp paper to check viability Chris. I do that a lot as I only grow for myself and there are way too many seeds in most packs for one person for one year,  always buy parsnips fresh but have a list for other veg, for example:
    Beetroot, peas - 5 years
    Carrot, sweet pepper, tomato - 3 years
    Cucumber - 7 years
    But that is just a guide as I have germinated much older seeds as, I imagine, have many people this year  :)

    Good luck with your gardening, there is nothing like growing your own food but it does need patience, perseverance and the ability to deal with failure!
    "The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."  Sir Terry Pratchett
  • strelitzia32strelitzia32 Posts: 767
    Liriodendron is absolutely right, but if it's your first time growing and you're only planning to grow say 10 different types of crops, I'd always recommend you buy fresh seed.

    Most of the time, Mr Fothergills, T&M etc have sales of popular seeds where every pack is £1. Even when full price at £2, you're still only going to pay £20 for all your seeds.

    For that £20 you will get fresh seed, correctly stored that's much more likely to germinate.

    If you use old seed it may not germinate due to the conditions it was stored in, it's age and so forth. Remember that seeds in packs are hermetically sealed, stored in temperature controlled storage, and are less than 18 months old. By the time you've had them for a year they'll have been in a humid house in summer, dry warmth in central heating over winter, another year older, perhaps exposed to light etc.

    For newcomers, getting strong plants to successfully germinate is half the challenge and a significant frustration. If your seeds fail you won't know if it's because they're old, denatured, not viable, or if it's because you haven't waited long enough or you haven't sowed them correctly.

    So whilst a paper towel test will help, and when you have at least one cycle of sow and grow experience you'll be better placed to just reuse old seed, I really recommend for your first go you should just buy fresh seed. That way you're removing one possible factor that may prevent growing, and potentially saving yourself the frustration of staring at a tray of no growth!

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    I always buy in fresh seed around January time. It's really not worth using old seeds in my opinion. Only really garlic bulbs that I think are worth trying to keep each year, as it is said over time they adapt to the location.

    Some of the spare seeds from this year might be suitable for micro veg though.

    That's what I do with things like spare radish seeds, plant them in a seed tray, let them germinate, micro veg, very sort after and expensive crop (and very easy to do) :)

    An internet search of micro veg will reveal which seeds are suitable and techniques.
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