New Seed Tricks And A Seed Giveaway

This old gardener learned some new seed tricks this spring!

(Yes, I can call myself “this old gardener” since I was inducted officially into SGAFO – Society of Gardeners Age Fifty and Over – earlier this winter. And I’ve got the official pin and a certificate to prove I’m a member. )

My new seed trick is to grow onions from seed. Now some gardeners are going to say, “Is that all? I’ve been growing onions from seeds since the get-go.”

But it's new to me. That's what's fun about gardening. What's new to me is old to others, and what's old to me is new to some. There's always something new to try, no matter how long you've gardened.

Anyway, I always grew onions from onion sets, little onion bulbs, purchased in the spring. I’d get a handful of white, a scoop of yellow, and top it off with reds and plant them out at the same time as I planted out the peas, around March 17th.

Then this spring, on a whim, I bought a packet of onion seeds, sowed them in May, and now I’m reaping the harvest, a few onions at a time. These are delicious cut up on salads, or just eaten like a carrot stick. And now, I’m going to sow some more onions seeds because…

Seeds aren’t just for spring!

There are lots of seeds we can sow in the late summer and fall, both in the vegetable garden and in the flower garden.

Here are six that I’ll be trying this summer/fall in the vegetable garden and in the flower garden, compliments of Botanical Interests.

Flowers include:

Nodding onion - Allium cernuum. I just like the sound of something “nodding” in the garden.

Penstemon FirecrackerPenstemon eatonii. I have so little red in my garden that I decided I should try this. Plus, I think it will attract hummingbirds!

Leadplant - Amorpha canescens. It attracts butterflies!

(By the way, I passed up on the Compass Plant, Silphium laciniatum, because they warned that you should sow this one where you want it because it is has a long tap root and can’t be easily moved. I took that to also mean that it might be hard to get rid of. Plus it can grow up to nine feet tall. My “inner gardener”, the one who whispers in my ear to warn me of danger, said maybe this one wouldn’t be good for my suburban garden, but if you’ve got a big garden, go for it, and let me know how it works out for you)

Vegetables include:

Spinach Bordeaux – It looks pretty with green leaves and burgundy stems, plus you can sow seeds up to four weeks before the first frost and still get a nice harvest. This means that I can sow seeds for spinach until Labor Day or so.

Lettuce Romaine Parris Island – I like the sound of “crunchy leaves”, "heirloom" and you can sow this one up to two weeks before the first frost!

Bean Bush Roma II - I’m kind of tired of green beans right at the moment, but by September, I’ll be ready for more. These are supposed to take 55 days from sowing to eating, so I have enough time to grow a good crop of these before frost returns to my garden.

But I don’t want to sow alone, so I’ve arranged for Botanical Interests to give away six packets of seeds to one lucky commenter. You can get seeds for fall or get a big jump on spring. Your choice!

To enter, go to the Botanical Interests website, look around at the seeds, then come here and

- leave a comment about what you found of interest (you might entice me to buy more seeds)

- put your name in the Mr. Linky widget by Friday, July 31st, 5:00 PM EDT.

I’ll use an online random number generator to pick a winner from those listed on the Mr. Linky widget and notify the winner late Friday night. Please make sure your link leads me to a place where I can get your email address.

Good luck and happy fall seed sowing!

(Note: Botanical Interests currently can only ship to U.S. residents.)


  1. I'd LOVE to start some more green beans. My first crop was a complete failure. How delish would that bean?

  2. I'd like to grow Amorpha canescens, the native prairie Leadplant. It has small purple flowers and grayish foliage, which means it is drought tolerant. The seeds are even sown in fall.

  3. I'm a new vegetable gardener, and I'd love to try Beet Gourmet Blend Organic Seed, which can be planted in late summer. asthenight at gmail dot com

  4. Coming to appreciate stuff like butterfly flower, goldenrod, rudbeckia, hoary vervain, etc., now that I know enough about plants to pay attention to what's growing on the side of the road. The edibles have not gone well for me this (first!) year, and most of my container annuals were disappointing, but I'll be damned if I can't grow myself weeds.

  5. Yes, learning new things is what keeps gardeners in the garden year after year.

  6. You had better luck than I did with the onions. I planted some from seed but they disappeared, I wonder if I weeded them? I I saw some neat rudbeckias called 'Cherry Brandy'. Some reds would look awesome with the yellows we have all around.

  7. I bought some sunflowers as big as dinner plates at Central Market recently, so now I'm obsessed with growing some---and boy, does Botanical Interests have some drool-worthy varieties.

  8. After writing an article earlier this year about allium cernuum, I've been determined to add some to my garden. I've got a good site picked out and everything! It would be great to sow them this fall!

  9. I am planting another round of Turnips and Sugar snap peas soon. As soon as I feel like working the soil in the July heat (but if I don't do it soon, it will be too late).

    I know I want to plant some more radishes for the fall, and the Radish Watermelon Mantang Hong Seed looks awesome. But they are out of stock. Second choice: Radish Easter Egg Blend Seed only because it will be a surprise what kind comes up. Radishes only take 2-3 weeks to grow, so they are one of the best motivators.

  10. Ah man, as soon as I commented, I noticed that they say it takes 30 days for radishes. I have had them grown in 3 weeks though.

  11. I love Botanical Interests! There's so much I want to plant this fall - carrots, turnips, beets - and I'm planning a shade garden on the west side of the house - I could really use some seeds! I've been browsing through their Gardening Tips and Tricks page - lots of neat links. Did you know Austin and Gainsville, FL are in the same USDA planting zone?

  12. I'm in a new house and haven't yet set up my vegetable garden (I know where it's going to go but 10 inches of rain since the beginning of June means very little time in the garden). I don't plan to plant any veggies till next year but I want to try some carrots and spinach.

    I did get some perennial space set up and I looked over the butterfly seeds on BI. I like the looks of the Agastache Sunset Hyssop, the Pensetmon Firecracker, the Prairie Blue Sage, the Cherry Brandy Rudbeckia, the... Hmmm. My list seems to be kind of long. I better plan to remove more grass.

  13. Sounds like a great seed giveaway. People always forget that they can grow more stuff in the fall. I even forget that after the hot dry summer.~~Dee

  14. I ordered from BI this spring -- we've had some luck with the bush beans 'french filet'. We also have cucumber 'marketmore' which is very flavorful. We'll see how the carrots turn out!
    This fall I'd love to sow some spinach and mesclun blend.
    I'd also like to start some lavender and sage.

  15. Gee, browse for more seeds? What a shame. The way other people spend $$ on bulbs or shoes, I shop for seeds. Just limiting myself to 6 things that looked new and interesting to me: Strawberry Corn, Jarrahdale Pumpkin, All American Parsnip, Moon & Stars Watermelon, Waltham Butternut Squash, Long Island Improved Brussels Sprouts, White Swan Echinacea...

  16. Hmm decisions, decisions, decisions. I think I'd pick Ruby Red Chard. White stem bock choy, kohlrabi (because I haven't done it before and it looks like a fun veggie), French breakfast radish, tomatillo and Black Krim tomato (ok for next years plants)

  17. This year I neglected planting flowers, concentrating instead on expanding my vegetables. So I have prepared a list of flower seeds I would like to have, Indian Spring Hollyhock, Black-eyed susan vine, echinacea, and others!

  18. I love following your blog, I am a new Master Gardener...graduating class of 2009 in Seminole County, Florida. Also eligible for the Society of gardeners age 50+!

    One project that I took on is the Demonstration Gardens at the Sanford Fl. school & Mueum....

    My team is currently preparing the designated areas for the "Pioneer edible" garden. So I am reasearching all that I can on this topic.

  19. I'm still sowing seeds of annuals and some perennials with hopes they will either bloom or over winter. Nicotiana sylvestris is one I hope will be in the garden next year.

  20. I am looking at the flower seeds for the area near my house that is rock mulched, for lack of a better term. My berm in the front lawn could use some more seeding as the California Poppies took off, I think more would be better.
    My list:
    Bachelor Button Tall Blend
    Bring Home the Butterflies (large packet)
    Coreopsis Plains Dwarf Bicolor
    Daisy Yellow Buttons
    Fairy Meadow Mix (for my Dad's prairie mound)
    Morning Glory Grandpa Potts
    Morning Glory Split Personality
    Nasturtium Cherry Rose
    Poppy California Mission Bells
    Poppy California Mikado
    Sunflower Elves Blend
    Sunflower Goldy Honey Bear
    Viola King Henry

  21. i love the variety of morning glories they sell! i might have to order one of each to plant as i'm pretty much becoming obsessed with morning glories.. thank you so much!!

  22. I'd like to get some cat grass and catnip. We have one pot of catnip that our cat loves. It would be fun for the kids to plant, and watch the cat go crazy.

    May try onion seeds as well!

  23. Cool! Glad your enjoying the onions!

    I'd love to grow onions myself, and garlic.

    Along with:
    Lemon Basil
    Scarlet Runner Pole Beans
    Trionfo Violetto Pole Beans
    Broccoli Rapini
    Pasilla Chile Pepper
    Swiss Chard

    And any Perennial flower that attracts butterflies & bees.

  24. Uh and the Compass Plant sounds Amazing! I wouldn't mind putting that in my garden!
    I do actually havethe room for it.

  25. Thanks for the introduction to this seed source; I've bookmarked them for future reference. I can't enter your contest because I don't have a blog. Maybe you could run a contest some time for people without blogs?

  26. The Clary sage would be great as sages are always reliable, I still have yet to grow calendula... so either the pacific beauty or zeolights would be awesome cut flower/herbs to have on hand. I also could always use more flowers in my garden as I primarily do vegetables, so the white yarrow would be spiffy!

  27. I generally try different types of Tomatoes, peppers, and butterfly types of seeds in the yard. But the easiest for me are Zinnias and Lady in Red Salvias.

    After looking at the seed selections I would choose all of the hot pepper seed.

  28. I've been itching to plant spinach and peas - my spring crops being horrible failures. Though as cool as it's been so far - I've been thinking of going ahead and planting the peas - maybe presprouting them in the frig.

  29. I think I need to start some more squash. Only 2 of my zucchini seedlings made it through our rainly June and somewhat chilly July and one is looking pretty bad.

  30. I'm thinking ahead to next year, Carol. Even though I have enough coneflowers to share with the whole neighborhood, I would love to add some true prairie coneflowers to the mix, which Botanical Interests carries. I also never got around to ordering the agastache I wanted, and now I'm intrigued by the "Fairy Mix"--I could use a few garden fairies here:)

  31. I think there are about 4 carrot varieties that I need to try...Tondo di Parigi in particular!

  32. I'm surprised they can't ship seeds into Canada. As far as I know, there should be no restriction, and we could even pay in US dollars... So even though I clicked to view your plant selections, I dared not browse their other offerings, and see something I would need to order elsewhere.

  33. I've got dense shade and deer, so Foxglove is looking mighty attractive at the moment.

    Now I have to go and finish my seed shopping. Thanks a lot *eyeroll*!! ;)

  34. Leadplant is new to me and I covet it already.

    My late-winter direct-sown peony poppies were a bust (2 seedlings; one produced a tiny flower before it died, the other didn't), so maybe fall planting is the thing for them in central Virginia? Or Indiana?

    And I've been meaning to try wallflowers for a long time...

  35. I really love the organic seed section. And the nice botanical drawings on the seed packets, and the website design/layout is quite good (e.g. viewing lots of seeds packet offerings on 1 page). Would love to try the:
    Buttercrunch lettuce
    Romaine freckles lettuce
    Snow pea oregon sugar pod
    Daikon radish

    Great selection!


  36. I would really love some heirloom or unique seeds for the next season- like the Artichoke Green & Purple Seeds. Thanks so much!


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