Grow Your Own Plants What To Look For

For farmers, the decision on what seeds to plant often occur in the fall, while harvesting the previous years crop.  Every fall, grain or farmers, the decision on what seeds to plant often occur in the fall, while harvesting the previous years crop.  Every fall, grain farmers across harvest their crops and compare which soybean or wheat varieties or corn hybrids were the best throughout the year and of course which have the best resulting yield.  On average if a farmer is pleased with a certain variety they will purchase and replant it again the following year, if not, then they look for something new.



Growing from seed is the natural way to do it and produces a wonderful variation of buds within the same genetic range.  Although growing from a female clone guarantees you a female plant, unless you change the growing environment, there is little room for variation and therefore improvement.

  • There are a wider range of strains available in seed than in clone, opening up your options for growing different genetics.
  • Some varieties just do better when started directly in the garden from seed.
  • Seed is less expensive. A packet of seed usually costs less than a six pack of plant starts and will yield at least five to six times as many plants.
  • Seed gives the farmer the ability to experiment with new varieties that are not be available as starts at your local garden center.


This includes your hardiness zone, soil conditions, and growing season. For shorter growing seasons, try fast maturing varieties that can produce maximum yields for your growing season.

Some pitfalls do exist if a farmer is not experienced at growing plants from seed. The most common problems are little or no germination, young seedlings falling over dead, or growing too tall and leggy. There are solutions to these problems. First, no germination. Common belief is that the seed is no good. This is usually not the case unless the seed has been in a kitchen drawer for several years, as seed companies test their seed after harvest to insure the customer good germination and to comply with federal regulations. Failure is frequently the result of poor cultural practices and can be prevented Poor germination usually results from one or more of the following: 1. Soil-borne disease. 2. Seed rot due to soils that are too cold and wet.  3. Drying of the soil surface which kills the developing seedling.  4. Planting the seeds too deeply. For good germination, seed needs to be grown in an environment in which it will germinate quickly, as the longer the seed is in the soil before it sprouts the more prone it is to rot and disease.

image_previewThe easiest way to provide a disease-free soil is to purchase a commercially produced seed-starting mix. These prepackaged soils are usually a mixture of sphagnum moss and perlite or vermiculite that have been sterilized to kill all soil-borne disease. They are naturally well drained, but you must use a growing container that has drainage holes to allow excess moisture to escape. In most home conditions the temperature of the container of soil will be cooler than ideal. To speed germination the seed tray can be placed on a warm surface to provide bottom heat. Most varieties will geminate best if the soil temperature is approximately 70 degrees F.

  • This Table 1. Soil temperature conditions for vegetable crop germination.
Minimum (F) Optimum Range (F) Optimum (F) Maximum (F)
Beet 40 50-85 85 85
Cabbage 40 45-95 85 100
Cauliflower 40 45-85 80 100
Celery 40 60-70 70 85
Chard 40 50-85 85 95
Cucumber 60 60-95 95 105
Eggplant 60 75-90 85 95
Lettuce 35 40–80 75 85
Melons 60 75–95 90 100
Onion 35 50–95 75 95
Parsley 40 50–85 75 90
Pepper 60 65–95 85 95
Pumpkin 60 70–90 90 100
Spinach 35 45–75 70 85
Squash 60 70–95 95 100
Tomato 50 70–95 85 95

Soil temperatures should be taken by inserting a soil thermometer 3–4 inches deep into the soil surface and noting temperature. Adapted from Kemble and Musgrove (2006).


Choosing The Right Time Of The Year

The time of year you plant seed has a direct effect on seeding success. Proper timing ensures that it will effectively germinates, grows quickly and remains healthy while establishing.

Early fall is the ideal time to plant seed, according to the University of Massachusetts Extension Turf Program.1 At this point, the ground is still warm enough to hasten germination, while the days are cool and sometimes rainy, helping to ensure that the seeds dry out. In early fall there is also still sufficient sunlight to allow seeds to thrive and become established before winter arrives.

When Choosing a Seed, Farmers Consider Many Factors Including:

  1. Which Seeds are the best on the Farmers Individual Fields
  2. Which Seeds Grow the best in the Farmers overall Location
  3. Which Seeds are readily marketable in the Farmers Location
  4. Which Seeds harvest-able goods has the highest demand.
  5. Which Seeds have the greater ROI for his Location
  6. Which Seeds the does the farmer need to plant to feed his own Livestock.
  7. Which Seeds are best adapted for the Farmers local Weather.
  8. Which Seeds can the Farmer efficiently Care for and Harvest with their current farm equipment and labor situations.

After making the decision what crop to plant, it is time to choose what variety/hybrid to plant as well.

Just like you choose what Variety of vegetables you would like to plant in your garden, farmers like choose which Variety/Hybrid they will plant for the following year.  And just like the vegetables in the store, there are countless choices!

  1. How quickly the seed emerges
  2. How tall the resulting plant is
  3. How does the resulting plant stand throughout the year?
  4. How strong are the resulting plants roots, stalk/stem?
  5. How is the resulting plant affected by various insects and diseases?
  6. How the resulting plant is is affected by it being planted on various soil types?
  7. How well does the resulting plant preform under stress from excess water or drought?
  8. How well does the resulting plants yield stack up to others?
  9. How long will it take the resulting plant to mature for harvest?
  10. How does the resulting plant react to various populations and row spacing?
  11. What weed pressures do the farmers fields have?


The above questions are just a handful of what goes through a farmers mind when choosing what will be best to plant for his/her farm the following year.  As you may imagine choosing the right seed for the field is a very important and difficult task, and guessing what the weather may be in the following year, an even greater task yet!