There is something to be said about choosing to purchase a seed collection—that is, multiple varieties of the same veggie in one seed packet:
1. Just that, variety. Whether it is four different color carrots, or two different types of hot peppers, variety is exactly what they say it is. And it is fun as well. Next summer in the Jones’s garden you will find multiple varieties of not only carrots and peppers, but also tomatoes, radishes, salad greens, tomatillos and others. Read on.
2. Less need for seeds on hand. Do you want to grow two different kinds of eggplant? No reason to purchase two seed packets; you can get a collection and you are good to go. Come summer we will be happily harvesting purples and whites. Over the years we have even made our own seed collections. This saves space and uses up the last bits of seeds from a few different packets.
3. Experimentation. Not sure if you will prefer one melon over another? By choosing a collection with multiple types, you can decide not only which you prefer to eat, but also what type might fare better in your gardening area.
Don’t be concerned that you won’t know which seed is which; often they are color coded with a food-grade dye to help you. Keep notes or place a marker until the fruit themselves make it obvious.
4. A more continuous harvest. The same variety of a veggie might produce on this plant first and that one later, but having different cultivars makes it much more likely you’ll have this effect.
5. On the down side, many of these seeds are hybrids and although you can of course save the seed, they may not grow true to parent. Likewise, planting different varieties encourages cross-pollination, again affecting the seeds-to-come. If you harvest and plant these next season, you may possibly be growing a surprise. But we see that as even more fun.
Gardening Jones is a master gardener in Pennsylvania. Learn more at her blog.
Renee's Garden Seed Collections include varieties in individual packets so you can keep them separated. See the Rainbow Kitchen Garden collection and the Container Kitchen Garden collection.
Prepare your soil for sowing seeds with a garden sieve, which screens out large debris, making it easier for seedlings to put down roots and push up stems.
Get answers to all your food-growing questions in The Veggie Gardener's Answer Book by Barbara Ellis.