Starting with seed packets

The almighty seed is the symbol of a new beginning. Buying your annuals as seed packets gives you four important advantages:

1 You can get an earlier start. Starting seeds indoors takes time and space, but it's not at all difficult — and it's a great way to chase away the winter blues.

1 Thanks to a broader selection in the seed-packet world, you can grow unusual annuals or new and different colors of popular ones. Look in seed catalogs that come in late winter, or browse the company Web sites. You have all sorts of wonderful choices!

1 Quantity! Any given seed packet can contain 100 or more seeds. Even with some attrition, using seed packets is a great way to grow a whole lot of plants.

1 It's inexpensive. Sure, experienced gardeners bemoan the rising cost of seeds over the years, but, really, it's still the best deal in town, always substantially cheaper than buying young plants.

Be sure to shop early for best selection, and always check the packet to make sure the seeds are fresh. (The packets should be stamped with an expiration date of later this year or next year or should say "packed for [current year]" — see Figure 6-4.) Store the packets in a cool, dry place so the seeds aren't tempted to germinate until you're ready to sow them in flats. For details on how to sow seeds, see Chapter 13.

For a listing of some mail-order seed and flower companies, check out the Appendix.

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