Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, the seed racks are back! These harbingers of spring are now appearing in stores and nurseries across North America, captivating gardeners with a vision of a new gardening season.

Without easing the excitement caused by these rotating or stationary racks, I suggest both beginners and experienced gardeners to be attentive to them. Seed boxes are adorable. They attract gardeners like magnets attract iron filings. It doesn’t matter that you may have left excellent seeds from last year or that you have already ordered seeds from a catalog; you should check what is offered.

The next thing you know, it’s been 10 minutes and you’re wandering to the checkout with a handful of seed offerings. What happened?

Seed sellers know that the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk” among gardeners is very tense. Plant the magic seed – and all the seeds are magic – and the stem rises. If we just choose half a dozen of these seed-sized bags by hand, we can grow half a hectare (or even more) of food or flowers. All you need are a few seeds. Here they are, all in one place.

So, a few rules that gardeners should remember when bumping into a spring trellis:

First, never buy seeds if you don’t have a garden plan that provides for this type of seed. (This also applies to catalogs and online purchases; start with a plan.) You can make notes of what’s available from the shelves (use the notes app on your phone), but don’t buy packages until you know you need them and there is a place to grow them. Go home, make a simple plan, and then come back.

Second, never buy a package of seeds based on its image. They are designed to look so good that you reach out and take the package, and once it is in your hand, you don’t put it back. Simply put, an image is a sales gimmick and doesn’t give you the information you need to make a smart purchase.

This information is on the back of the package, and the third rule of storing seeds is that you carefully study this information before buying. On the back the plant is described as an annual, perennial or biennial, which is good to know. If necessary, the range of cultivation zones will be listed. And, very importantly, this is where you will learn how tall the plant grows and its expected spread so you can properly place the seeds or seedlings.

Importantly, the reverse side of the pack should indicate how many days it takes for the plant to move from germination to maturity. (You should already know how long your growing season lasts.)

Often there are also additional growing instructions. They will show whether growing the plant suits your level of knowledge.

And always look for this year’s date printed on the bottom of the package so you know you’re getting fresh and viable seeds, not previous years. ”

Lastly, pay attention to the amount of seeds in the package. Usually one package contains more than you need. (How many cabbages does your family want you to plant?)

At the local mall I came across racks for seeds. My glasses may be fogged from the cold, but I see them and they draw me in. In a few minutes I’m wandering around with a bunch of seed packets that I don’t really need. Luckily, my wife makes me put them back (if it’s not arugula seeds).

There should be a fourth rule of seed collection: make sure your spouse or other responsible soul is near you.

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