I ordered quite a lot of seeds this year. I usually have lots of seeds leftover from previous years that are still viable, but this year I ordered several new ones. I do still have some seeds left that I am also using, including some flower seeds that I ordered last fall, but most everything is right here.

I decided to order through only two companies for my vegetable seeds this year. I usually rotate through three different companies, but I only order from two each year to keep the shipping costs down.

I primarily ordered heirloom/open-pollinated seeds this year. I hope to get better at collecting seeds (especially those tiny lettuce seeds!) so that I can really cut down on ordering seeds. I have also found that open-pollinated/heirloom varieties grow the best for me.

I chose several things because of their heat tolerance. Come April, my lettuce is bolting. I’ll harvest bolting, bitter lettuce into May, but then I won’t plant it again until October. I plant lettuce in January and February. Looseleaf varities of lettuce are best here (rather than head lettuces) because of the heat. I just harvest the outer leaves and the lettuce continues to grow.

For a complete look at what I plant when, check out my garden calendar.

Swiss chard grows all-year-long here. It slows in winter considerably. It will grow for about 10 months before it bolts, sometimes around April/May. I harvest the outer leaves from it until then. It even grows in the hot summer months here, which is wonderful. (It’s the only leafy green I can grow in the summer). I am planting lots more this year in several places in the garden so that I can harvest it much more often (hopefully at least once a week in large quantities).

I grew zinnias last year. They did so well. I ordered them in 4 colors this year: white, pink, red, and yellow. Last year I just grew pink ones. They were blooming in late summer through our first frost in December. I plan to plant earlier this year so that I can hopefully have blooms for a longer period of time. I ordered these from a different place. They are from Wildseed Farms. Do you see those huge packets of seeds on the right in the photo of seed packets? Those are the zinnia seeds. I get all of those for the same price as a packet of around 20-50 from anyone else, and I can pick just the colors I want (rather than a mixed batch). I have been really happy with seeds from this company and I love the giant quantity that comes when you order. Not only that, but they are wildflower seeds, so they often reflower if you plant in a place that is undisturbed. I am still growing and collecting rocket larkspur seeds from the seeds I ordered there many years ago. You can see those around my armillary here.

Last fall I ordered more johnny jump-up seeds (mine reseeded themselves for several years, but they did not last year for some reason) and more red corn poppy and mixed corn poppy seeds.

I will also be replanting chamomile and borage this year. Both of these usually reseed themselves for me each year, but I am disturbing their growing area this year with some digging, so I have ordered seeds for these again. I grow borage to attract bees, and the blue flowers are very nice to use on desserts, in salads, and to float in water or in a homemade punch for a party.

I am changing the sunflowers I am growing this year. I am growing one type so that I can harvest seeds, and another so that I can have multi-flowering sunflowers that can be cut and brought indoors. I have a goal to have lots more flowers to bring in this year for our table, and hopefully to put throughout the house as well.

I love the ever-changing garden plans. It’s always ironic to me how I planned the garden one way, even before I saw this house (we looked up the property online and I drew up plans days before we even looked at the house!), and how it continuously evolves–as a living thing should.

One of the questions that I am asked at every single garden tour is what varieties I am grow. Here are the seeds I ordered this year:

Territorial Seed:


Continuity (Open-Pollinated)
New Red Fire (Open-Pollinated)
Optima (Open-Pollinated)
Valmaine (Open-Pollinated)
Mascara (Open-Pollinated)


Galilee (Open-Pollinated)


German Chamomile
Italian Flat-leaf Parsley (Open-Pollinated)



Other seeds:

Imperial Star Artichoke (Open-Pollinated)
Red Noodle Bean (Open-Pollinated)

I also ordered 2 passion fruit vines. I hope these grow well and are productive here. These won’t ship until April.



Black-Seeded Simpson (Heirloom)
Oak Leaf (Heirloom)
Four Seasons

Salad Greens:

Selvatica Arugula
D’Etampes Corn Salad (aka mache) (Heirloom)

Summer Squash:

Fordhook Zucchini

Winter Squash:

Burpee’s Butterbush

Root Vegetables:

Chioggia Beet (Heirloom)
Tokyo Cross Turnip
Fire N Ice French Breakfast Radishes

Other seeds:

Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard
Mammoth Melting Sugar Pea (Heirloom)
Blue Boy Cornflower

I ordered a Portobello Mushroom Kit, which has arrived and is hopefully starting to grow.
I also ordered Italian Loiacono Garlic (Heirloom) , which won’t ship until April.

What I already have on hand:

Armenian cucumbers
Johnny-jump-ups (originally called Johnny jump and Kiss Me)
Red corn poppy
Mixed corn poppies
More shirley poppies
A few different lettuce seeds

Experiments I’m planning from pantry ingredients:

Yellow Mustard
Bread Poppies

I purchase tomato plants from the nursery in February. Our last frost date is February 15th. I also purchase potted herbs if need be then, though most of my herbs overwinter just fine. This year I am planning to buy Genovese basil from the nursery. Though I have had success growing lots of it from seed in the past, for the last two years I have not, so I have planned to buy plants this year, rather than buying seeds that don’t germinate, and then needing to buy plants later.

The tomato plants I grow are Early Girl and Yellow Pear. I also like Lemon Boy, but I’m not always able to find this one at the nursery.

I usually get the 6-pack tomato plants for a lot less, but I know people who buy the larger plants and because of it, they have tomatoes setting fruit much earlier and more prolifically. The cost is a big difference, but I am considering buying part of my plants in the larger forms this year to see if it makes enough of a difference. For the 6-packs this year, I am going to try warming them with large glass jars over the tops this year (something I don’t usually do for my tomatoes) to see if I can get the small ones to grow faster during the cooler weather.

If you’d like to know the rest of what I grow in my garden (which is quite a bit), check the sidebar on any of my garden pages.

I planted several things in the garden this week (my cool season vegetables) and I have a few more to plant today and tomorrow. A few of the seeds that I planted on Monday are already coming up! I’m looking forward to eating lots of salads soon!

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You can use the code “BXTEN” for $10 off a  $50 order from Burpee from now until May 31.

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  1. Lea,Spinach is a cool season vegetable. On the seed packet, it says to direct-sow (outdoors) spinach up to 2 1/2 months before the last frost date in mild climates.Spinach has been tricky for me in the past; some years it has grown better than others. I am trying two new varities this year; the Galilee because it is an heirloom one and the Regatta because my husband likes round-leafed spinach more than the large leafed spinach that I have grown in the past (Bloomsdale long-standing). The Galilee is supposed to last longer in the heat, too, which is good; mine usually bolts in March/April. The seeds are fascinating; they have little hooks on one end like thorns. I am hoping these do really well for us, because I love spinach.I’ve never scored seeds before; I’ve never seen that on any seed packet. What seeds do you score?

  2. Brandy,your garden plans sound awesome? Have you ever considered starting tomato plants yourself? This is a little challenging with small children but I have made it work it does take some space though. I use our laundry room and some card tables. I start alot of plants like tomatos, melons, cucumbers, and squashes myself very early (for us and our zone 3-4) about February first so I realize you would have to start yours in December to get the same results (or maybe earlier?). I grow alot of heirloom tomatos that way though and sell all my extra plants at a Farmers Market. I grow alot of “exotic” heirlooms that are starting to come into fashion now lol. I am interested to see how your mushrooms do. We gather wild mushrooms but I have always wanted to try growing my own

  3. I order a lot from Territorial as well. They are great seeds. I did wonder if the yard long red beans might do well in your climate. Here, in a rainy part of Oregon, my daughter could not get any of those beans from the ones she planted. I think they like heat.Each of my two remaining girls (the others are grown) have their own raised bed their dad built for them. Each year, they try things they have an interest in. Tomorrow, my husband hopes to replace the plastic roof of the greenhouse he made. The weather has moderated a bit, so I will plant as soon as the roof is intact. I like to plant peppers, parsley, some flowers and onion seeds early. They all take a long time.This year, we are going to try to grow some larkspur/delphinium from seed, for one thing.I have a little bit of chard and some leeks, beets and carrots still in the garden. Now that it’s unfrozen, I need to go check and see if there is anything still usable. I planted some Walla Walla onion sets last fall as an experiment. I’ll see what grows in the spring. It’s still too early here to plant lettuce or spinich outside.

  4. I usually am too busy from November-December to plant tomato seeds. With a birthday and Chrismtas gifts to make for the family, I haven’t remembered to plant. I have tried before; I have a really hard time with anything that isn’t direct seeded; it always gows moldy on me and the tomatoes die when they are about 3/4″ tall. I don’t have grow lights or a heating mat; that would help, I’m sure. Does your laundry room have a window? Mine does not. The rooms with light are the living room, master bedroom, and master bath. (My kitchen does not have a window). I haven’t found a good place to put seedlings.

  5. November and December are not really seed starting months I agree especially with all the wonderful gifts you make for your family!!! My laundry room does have alot of light in fact our whole house does; its a hundred year old house with alot of windows this is great for letting in sunshine, but living in Vegas I imagine that would not be optimal. Sorry about the mold! I made growlights from scrounged materials (I am very good at finding things for very cheap or free which is often a bad thing because I end up with too much stuff lol)I used flourescent lights and made sort of a multi-shelfed grow light thing that fits along our sunny room laundry wall using recycled materials it cost me about twenty dollars. I am pretty sure there are many similar things online. Its fairly space efficient but not very pretty which is why it stays in the laundry room. When I lived in Montana I used to grow tomatos as house plants in the winter in hanging baskets it was kind of fun to get a few fresh tomatos around Christmas. I just cut off the mature tomato branches just before frost and rooted them in rooting compound in the house and then planted them. In the spring you cut off more mature tomato branches and do the same thing and you end up with tomatos much faster. This only workd though if you can keep toddlers, roaming baby calves, and cats out of your tomatos! Blessings with your garden this year.

  6. Would it be possible to grow the lettuce indoors? I don’t know how high a priority it is for your family so maybe it’s a non-issue. But, I used to grow ours indoors when we lived in upstate New York and it tended to do reasonably well. I would run into problems with spider mites. though.

  7. We usually do spinach in early spring here and I guess I was just curious because it didn’t seem to tolerate the heat here very well. I was thinking of trying a different variety than the one I have the last couple years. Thanks so much for the suggestions!Four o’clock’s are the ones that we score regularly. I remember my mom having several as a kid (we had huge flower gardens and a 1/4 acre garden growing up) but I can’t remember what now (I should ask her!). The seeds are encased in a hard shell so you have to score the shell to let the plant out!

  8. Brandy, it’s sounds like you might have issue with damping off. I have read where cinnamon, chamomile tea or hydrogen peroxide will help with that. You can google it if you are interested.

  9. We always do at least 12 plants of Early Girl…with our short growing season they are only 45 day to production and very heavy producers. We also do another 12 of Wisconsin 55, a tomato produced here at our University and is very resistant to nasty things that want to kill off your plants. We start with plants from a local family-run nursery (not a chain) and we do some of the 6 packs and some of the single larger ones. Tomatoes are my biggest and most important crop. We plant between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day…May 15th is last frost. By the time September comes things are winding down. My garden is full sun. Under normal summers we seldom have to water. Last summer was an odd drought, which I hope does not repeat. I have never considered starting form seed…we get so much out of the garden that the outlay for plants is worth it.As re’ zinnias…you can dry the heads and pick out the seeds and then plant them the next year.

  10. I looked up the zinnias on the Wildseed farm website. The pink ones in your picture seem to be single, and a combination of pale pink and darker pink. The pink ones on the website seem to be more double and all the same. Is there another pink zinnia I’m just not seeing? Thanks.

  11. I planted the ones from the website that you’re seeing: Luminosa Pink. Some of the flowers just grew a bit lighter, but they also get lighter as they get older; they start out darker pink and fade more as they get older. They do look a bit different from theirs (I just looked again) but there was a bit of variance in the flowers. I think I like they way they turned out more than their image 🙂 I am really a more formal kind of flower person (I like bulbs especially) but the zinnias gave me flowers when everything else in the garden is just about done flowering, and I liked that.

  12. Thanks for the info. I grow zinnias every year because they grow for me, too. They are also good for the children to grow because they are so forgiving. If we can get the slugs to leave them alone long enough to get going, they grow very well. It is very wet here.Sometimes stores around here sell those really cheap seed packets for 5/$1 or 4/$. I know they are the leftovers and not the best seeds plus there aren’t many seeds per packet, but my husband often buys a bag full of things like zinnias, marigolds and alissum for family fun. Last year, my yougest daughter was given a large handful of those packets. She made a row in the garden, and planted an entire packet every foot or so. So, up came a bunch of zinnias, then a crowded 4 inches of marigolds, etc. Since it was her project, I left it alone. Even planted that way, she grew beautiful tall zinnias and dwarf marigolds, and a few other flowers that escape me now. We talked about crowding, but she felt very successful.I just thought the pink zinnias were so pretty in the picture, with the variations of color, next to the beautiful blue jar. You do a great job with your photography.

  13. They will eventually sprout without scoring. Otherwise, the plant would have never been able to reproduce. Morning glory packets say to score them and soak them overnight, but Ihave had them self-seed here in zone 5.

  14. I’m looking forward to integrating some strawberries as “groundcover” in several spots in my yard. I’m hoping this works—-the berry bushes here seem to stay green yearround and I’d love the benefit of having a ground cover + berries.

  15. Brandy, I live in the desert too, in Arizona. What sorts of things are you doing to prepare your soil right now? Fertilizer? Compost? My only frustration is room for the new things like tomatoes while I still have lettuce and other winter plants still growing, so it’s hard to add the soil amendments when you still have plants.

  16. Great blog, thanks for all the great tips. Why do you not save your own zinnia seeds? You dont even have to pick out the seeds, can just save the dried heads and sow it all.

  17. Last year I only grew pink ones, and just a few. They died with the frost a week before Christmas, and I didn’t have time to gather seeds before the wind dashed the plants to the ground. (I did save my own larkspur seeds, however). This year I am planting four colors, and I intend to save seeds from them.Thank you for the info on gathering zinnia seeds; I appreciate it!

  18. I have added manure and fertilizer this year. I always have that problem, too. My fall garden didn’t grow this year so I was better able to add more to the garden this year than I have in a long time. I would like to add more compost (from the nursery) but I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that this year.

  19. My kids help me with turn the soil before we start putting the seeds in, they help me put s3ds in, weeding and harvesting. They LOVE IT. Having a garden made them eat more veggies. ;)Linda S.

  20. I have been buying seeds from Berlin Seeds in Ohio. Good prices, and no GMO seeds. Also, they have an assortment of good kitchen type items in the back of the catalog.I also have bought tomato, pepper and lettuce seeds from Ohio Heirloom seeds. http://www.ohioheirloomseeds.com/ good prices, and fast cheap shippingNo affiliation with either company. I also have bought seeds off of ebay. I bought asparagus seeds and started my own asparagus that way. Then I could only spend a small amount of $$ at one time since it seems to be hard to come by here! I use a float tray system to start seeds-styrofoam trays with grow medium in them that you float in water. White remay type fabric with hoops over the top and a water bed heater to heat the water under the plastic. Often used in KY to start tobacco seeds/plants. I just start veggies in them and then transplant.Just some thoughts.

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