Ordering Vegetable Seeds For The First Time

Posted on Feb 12 2010 - 5:51am by Mike Lieberman

When I asked for help buying vegetable seeds, I got all kinds of advice and suggestions, which are much appreciated.

Spinach, chard and all sorts of greens were the most recommended. I don’t really eat that many starchy veggies like carrots and beets, so didn’t want to get those for my fire escape garden.

Since I only have three containers for veggies and the hanging soda bottle planters, I really wanted to maximize the space for productivity.

I decided to do all greens and lettuces in the containers and ordered some herbs for the hanging planters. I decided against growing cucumbers and tomatoes because they just get too large for the fire escape and there isn’t enough sunlight for the peppers.

This first round of seeds: Here is what I ordered from www.SeedsNow.com:

I’m also going to have to order some seeds for my backyard vegetable garden.

What do you think of the selection for my fire escape?

  • Perry

    Awesome! Courtesy seeds? Sweet.

    I'm relatively new to your blog so I'm not sure of your experience with cilantro.

    Please forgive me if I'm being presumptuous or insulting your garden brains. Maybe some of your readers might like this info.

    Cilantro is a very short lived herb that needs to be planted in multiple waves and needs to be harvested regularly during the cool weather months. You will have to get creative with your unique containerized limited space situation.

    Plant a few clumps, wait a week or 2, plant a few more clumps, wait a week or two, plant a few more clumps. Keep doing this through the spring until the plant bolts into flowering stage which means that the summer heat wave has arrived and/or you were not harvesting your cilantro fast enough!

    Once the summer heat wave for your area eases up you can start doing the weekly planting routine again for a fall harvest.

    To some degree this planting method is true for the leaf lettuce and mesclun mixes as well.

    Back to cilantro, if you let some of the summer bolting plants go to seed you can harvest coriander (the seed spice from the cilantro plant.) You can also save the seeds for next year's rotation and/or scatter them across your pots to let them volunteer for next year.

    On a parting note, winter kale is a MONSTER. Give it plenty of room.

    Hope I didn't overstep your blog comment boundaries.

  • Mike Lieberman

    You totally overstepped your boundaries on that comment. Unacceptable. Haha. It's all good. The sharing of information is much appreciated and most definitely thankful on my end for it.

  • http://twitter.com/lisavilisa Elle P

    I too am playing with cilantro. It may be the cold weather, or juts dumb luck but it's taken about two weeks to even get decent sprouts. Do you think I should space mine farther out (3 weeks) until the pace picks up?

  • RawDamon

    Sweet! Believe it or not I have their page open right now selecting bibb lettuce strains to try in my hydroponic system! Great site, it looks like their seeds will be worth our shopping around. I have the best luck with Tatsoi in small places, it grows fast and stays compact…next test is Pak Choy, dwarf bok choy and flowering kale. I do agree with Perry, cilantro and dill grow nice together planting in waves. Our Cilantro are super slow growing with the cold weather too :(

  • http://survivingtherabbithole.blogspot.com/ Perry J Post

    Hi Mike, I'm hijacking your blog again…

    Elle, 1-2-3 week plantings are all good. I like to go earlier than 3 weeks because I harvest whole clumps at a time, and before you realize it the summer heat wave is upon you and it's too late for cilantro. It also matters how many clumps you planted and can use. I use mine with refried bean burritos regularly and find 1 grocery sized clump last me about a week tearing off little batches at a time. Flavor pairs up GREAT with lime juice BTW. Obviously you'll need more if doing a big batch of salsa. (Seems like cilantro and tomatoes are tricky to time together, definitely from a late summer planting.)

    This is strictly my experience, but it seems like cilantro is a wimpy little plant that does much better planted thickly together (in a clump) so they support each other. They also seem to prefer a bit of protection from the sun and heat, like being planted around and under larger plants or pots. Don't wait for a big bushy plant. They sprout, they grow a couple parsley looking leaves, you harvest. If you wait too long they will grow ferny dill looking leaves and bolt to flower and will never again give you good cilantro. The first few weeks of sprouting and plant growth can seem agonizingly slow but next thing you know, wham bam thank you ma'am and you are harvesting (or standing there looking at a patch of bolted coriander because you forgot about them or gave up on them.)

    Never transplant; they go immediately to bolt.

    Hope this paints a better better cilantro growing picture for yall. Good luck!

  • Mike Lieberman

    Nice bro. I need to place some more orders as well. Def can't wait to get started!

  • Mike Lieberman

    Hijack away. Glad that we've found each other and you're sharing all your knowledge.

  • RawDamon

    I do like the quality of Seeds of Change seeds too. They are owned by M&M Mars Corp unfortunately, but they do say they are organic and not GMO. The quality and selection are top notch too. I've also purchased and liked seed from Chiltern Seed in England when I'm looking for something special. We are looking forward to a visit to Kitazawa seed in Oakland, CA soon as well. I'll keep you posted!

  • http://twitter.com/lisavilisa Elle P

    sound win-win, I either get fresh herbs or home grown coriander! That's awesome, why dosen't everyone grow this?

    I'll plant my next clump next thursday (I plant on thursdays and keep track of things that way).

  • Mike Lieberman

    I'm with you girl. Sounds win-win to me.

  • Mike Lieberman

    I have a list of east coast spots that were recommended to me.

  • http://twitter.com/veghealthcoach Melissa Danielle

    I just ordered seeds from Hudson Valley Seed Library and Mountain Rose Herbs. I'm excited – this will be my first year planting a garden.

  • Mike Lieberman

    Nice. What did you order? Hudson Valley Seed Library is one of the spots that's been recommended to me over and over.

  • http://twitter.com/veghealthcoach Melissa Danielle

    You get 10 packs for 20 bucks. I don't know if that's a good deal or not, but I took it. I ordered Calendula, Sunflower, Dino kale, Cayenne pepper, Jalapeno pepper, Brussels sprouts, carrots, Thai Basil, Wild Arugula. I am a big leafy greens fan, so I'm also going to be looking for baby greens in the mustard family – ruby streaks, green frill – and then maybe amaranth/calaloo and purslane. I might go to Johnny's seeds for those. And Mountain Rose Herbs for my medicinal/tea garden.

    I'm also going to wait and see what the farmers bring down in the spring. I like to get plants from them too.

  • http://survivingtherabbithole.blogspot.com/ Perry J Post

    Hello Melissa, your comment about going to Johnny's reminded me about a discussion over at the Es*sense blog. Last year there was some concern about Johnny's carrying seed that was produced by a subsidiary company of Monsanto. Get this, upon request, Rob Johnston of Johnny's openly listed all 40-some varieties of seeds that he carried from that company so that we could avoid purchasing them and inadvertently pay for Monsanto product.

    That, my friends, is true integrity. I highly recommend Johnny's. Here is the link to the discussion:

    http://esmaa.wordpress.com/open-letter-to-johnnys/

  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for the link.

  • http://twitter.com/ReviveUK Zoe

    Sounds like a great start to the season…this end, I have spinach, little gem lettuce, carrot, tomato and aubergine all seedlings or germinating…am sooo excited and trying to be optimistic and realistic about their growth for a 1st timer…have also done an excel spreadsheet and a little diary (its the anal administrator in me!!!!!!) worksheet to make growing notes and any other bits and pieces I learn along the way :0)

  • Mike Lieberman

    That's great Zoe. The spreadsheet and diary make complete and total sense. It's one of the reasons that I started this blog to keep track and record of everything.

    Def keep me updated on how your garden progresses.

  • Malchus

    For tomatoes you could try and use one which is small (some are especially for balconies). Did you check out the varieties Tiny Tim, Balkonstar, Balkonzauber, Vilma?

  • Mike Lieberman

    I think I'm gonna save the tomatoes for my grandmother's backyard and do strictly greens and lettuces on my fire escape. Will def look into the varieties you mentioned.

  • Malchus

    For tomatoes you could try and use one which is small (some are especially for balconies). Did you check out the varieties Tiny Tim, Balkonstar, Balkonzauber, Vilma?

  • Mike Lieberman

    I think I'm gonna save the tomatoes for my grandmother's backyard and do strictly greens and lettuces on my fire escape. Will def look into the varieties you mentioned.

  • Pingback: When To Start Vegetable Seeds Indoors In New York City | Urban Organic Gardener

  • http://www.pocketsmiles.com Paige

    I found some slow-bolt cilantro from Renee’s Garden that I’ll be trying soon. She also has a variety of lettuces for container growing. I did a review and giveaway for Renee’s Garden and got a media packet where Icould choose 18 seed packets for trial purposes.  

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Nice. Sounds pretty dope.

  • stonecold1rob

    Cool, I just started a hydroponics system for the first time. I started with Little Gem Lettuce, Roma Tomato and Spearmint. How ever I used Rockwool to start the seeds. The Tomattoes are doing great but having problems ,Lettuce seems to be growing at a very slow pace.
    Ph level seems fine so any advice is welcome.