Seeds for Desert Gardens I: Choosing and handling seeds

Germinating seeds for your desert garden may sound difficult, but, in reality it’s not, if you follow some simple guidelines.

First, make sure you get quality seed from a dealer who has a reliable reputation.

Next, make sure you pick varieties that are adapted to your region and the plan you’ve made for your garden. A plant that will grow well in Albuquerque, New Mexico, might not be a choice plant for Phoenix, Arizona.

Make sure you also get the color and size you want. A six-foot mature plant in front of a plant that matures at two feet will hide the smaller plant.

Additionally, you might want to check to see if the variety of seeds you are buying are hybrids. Many hybrids are more vigorous, provide more uniform-sized flowers and fruit, and produce better than hybrids. Also, some hybrids have been bred to be resistant to specific plant diseases.

Everyone generally buys more seeds than they can possibly use. In that case, you can store the remainder for next year. However, remember that storing seeds reduces their viability and they may not produce as vigorously as this year’s crop. They also may not germinate as quickly as the seeds you plant this year.

Read the seed packet to find out when the seeds were packaged, the variety, percentage of seeds expected to germinate and possibly information about special pre-planting treatment of the seeds.

If you buy your seeds some time before you plant them, put them in a cool, dry place. If the seeds are in paper packs, put them in a tightly sealed jar and keep them at about 40 degrees F.

Saving Seeds from your garden

It’s true that some gardeners save seed from their gardens, and this is a fine practice, if you remember that the seed you have saved is fruit from plants that have been pollinated at random by bees and other insects, wind or other agents. The results might not be duplicates of the parents, particularly in hybrid varieties.

And don’t be afraid of buying seeds, as long it is from a reputable dealer. The reputation and good name of these companies is dependent upon them handling seeds properly.

You can expect, on the average, about 65 to 80 percent of the seeds you sow to germinate. And from those that germinate, expect 60 to 75 percent to give you seedlings that are vigorous and sturdy