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For keeping out weeds at the seed stage, rely on specialist producers

Home gardeners are preoccupied the year round with seeds. in the summer you evaluate the varieties you have planted and make notes about success or failure. The fall harvest tells you whether or not you will repeat the seed selection.

Winter is a time for studying the seed catalogs and selecting new varieties. In the spring you make your indoor plantings in flats or jiffy pots and the gardening cycle begins all over again.

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Your happiness in your garden depends on the seeds you sow.

When you select seeds of any kind you will be happier with the results if you seek out the specialists in each field.

All seed is too costly to waste. Some gardeners save their own seed quite successfully. Hybrids are unpredictable, however. In fact, home-grown seed is unpredictable, since you have neither the facilities nor the time for the research that guarantees good germination from the seeds you save.

Grass seed for lawns is especially errorprone. It is easy to buy a package of any lawn seed at any store for the least possible amount of money. Yet, the penny-wise, dollar-foolish buyer will seem surprised when there is poor germination and many strange weeds.

It is better to seek out lawn and grass specialists who back up their products with many years of experience and research. The seed will cost a bit more, but that is better than planting weed seeds that will ruin your lawn.

Whether it is lawn seed or vegetable or flower seeds, the home gardener may be surprised to learn that "certified" seed does not ensure quality. Certified merely assures the buyer that the seed has been tested and will produce plants that are true to the type and variety that is claimed on the label. But that is all.

The percentage of weed seeds is kept within the limits of the law, according to weight. The percentage of weed seeds permitted may seem appalling, since 15 percent weed seeds by weight may be 30 percent by volume. The most intolerable weeds often have the tiniest seeds.

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Can you imagine planting a new lawn to 30 percent weed seeds? Or a flower bed that is one-third weeds? A gardener can sow a lot of arduous work with bargain seeds.

New varieties of grasses, vegetables, and flowers are developed every year. Whether you select a new hybrid variety or stay with a well-known name, you will be safer if you stay with seed houses that are known for the variety you select. some seed houses specialize in marigolds, some in cucumbers, others in lawn grass. It makes sense to capitalize on their research and buy from the experts.

In quoting germination percentages, some gardeners do not know that "germination" means sprouting seeds under ideal conditions in temperature-controlled, moisture-controlled flats. Some of the seeds may be small and barely produce a sprout in the designated number of days required by law. others grow an inch and a half of sprout as well as a lengthy root.

Reputable seed companies seek your patronage year after year.Therefore, they market the seeds that yield big, healthy sprouts and pass the weak, small sprouters on to bargain deals.

The conditions under which you plant your seeds are often far from ideal, so many of the small, weak seeds that germinated in ideal conditions would not grow when sown in your garden.

Suppose you buy bargain seeds and sow them thicker?that might cost as much as buying the healthier seeds and sowing them at the regular rate.

Reputable seed houses sometimes offer zone maps which help you in selecting seeds for your area. Grass seed germinates well at 55 degrees F. Other garden seeds require temperatures of 65 degrees or over.

If you are not sure about the soil in your area, you can buy a thermometer made especially for finding the temperature of the soil. Failure of seeds to grow may result from many factors. You may simply have poor seed. If you have saved your own seed, it may not have been properly stored or gathered at the right time. If your seed is from a reputable firm, you may not have supplied enough moisture to the garden. The soil may not have been warm enough. You may not have planted it at the right depth.

Store any unused seed in a tightly sealed fruit jar or other container with a good lid. Keep the seed in a cool, dry place. The seed may be used the following year, but the longer you keep it the lower will be the germination rate. Fresh seed is by far the best. If you use old seed, sow it thicker than usual. Better yet is to test a bit of the seed between layers of damp fabric or blotting paper.

If you are judging seed by the amount of vegetables you harvested, remember that some seeds need neighboring plants for pollination. Therefore, it is better to plant three short rows of sweet corn and many other vegetables that rely on pollination than to plant a single long row. Also out of your control is the number of bees and the amount of wind necessary for pollination.

Seeds that are sown in the garden in July and August often need extra moisture for germination. In many areas these are the dry months. Strips of worn bed sheets or other similar fabric may be placed on the row after the seeds are sown. this will keep the seeds from drying out or from washing out of the row as you sprinkle the area to supply the needed moisture.

Consider your particular needs when you select your seeds. A large family likes big heads of cabbage. A small family likes them smaller. Do you like long or small carrots for carrot "coins" or fat, stubby ones for carrot sticks? Whatever you need, there is a variety of seed just for you.

In garden and grass seed, as in all other things, you get what you pay for. It pays in the end product to back up the research that creates seed specialists in any given variety of seed.

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