Best Vegetable Seeds

Updated July 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best vegetable seeds

Last Updated July 2020

Growing your own food is becoming ever more popular in backyards and on balconies across the world. Whether you're new to growing vegetables or you have years of experience under your belt, you'll need a selection of seeds to get started. However, with thousands of veg varieties out there, which should you grow?

Some of your choices will come down to personal preference (why grow radishes if you can't stand them?), but you still have a big decision ahead of you. Start by identifying which vegetables you want to grow and making sure they're suitable for growing in your hardiness zone, then consider varieties. There are other factors to consider, too, such as your growing space and whether you want organic or non-GMO seeds.

We've listed our top five vegetable seeds for your consideration, but we'd also recommend reading our full buying guide to help you choose the best varieties for you.

If you're new to growing vegetables, don't buy too many different seeds at once. Set your sights too high and you may end up disappointed.

Key considerations

Hardiness zones

You can use hardiness zones to help you decide which vegetables seeds to sow. Every part of the world is assigned a hardiness zone, from 1a to 13b, according to the average temperature and length of the growing season. Most of the United States is somewhere between zone 3 and zone 9. The higher the number, the longer the growing season and the larger variety of crops you can grow. For instance, you'd be hard-pressed to grow okra successfully in zone 3, whereas it's likely to flourish in zone 9. Before deciding what to grow, find out which hardiness zone you live in and which vegetables will grow most successfully.

Types of vegetables

Now you need to decide which vegetables you want to grow. If you need some inspiration, we've listed common types of vegetables below.

Root vegetables: Root vegetables grow underground with the leaf part of the plant aboveground. Common root vegetables include carrots, parsnips, and rutabaga. Potatoes are really tubers but are generally classed as roots.

Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are all cruciferous vegetables.

Leafy greens: Often used in salad, though they can be cooked, leafy greens include kale, spinach, lettuce, and chard.

Alliums: Onions, shallots, spring onions, and leeks all belong to the allium family.

Legumes: The legume family encompasses all kinds of peas and beans, including mangetout (such as snap peas), green beans, and edamame beans.

Stems: Some vegetables, including asparagus and celery, are technically edible stems.

Fruits: Of course, you know that fruits aren't vegetables, but some fruits (such as squash, eggplant, and tomatoes) are commonly eaten and treated like vegetables. So, despite being classed as fruit from a botanical perspective, they're more like vegetables from a food preparation standpoint.

Varieties

Vegetable seed varieties are essentially subspecies of vegetables. Say you want to grow carrots, you could choose a classic orange variety, such as Tendersweet or Imperator 58, or you could opt for Kaleidoscope, which turns out carrots in five different colors, or striking Purple Dragon carrots that are purple on the outside and orange in the center. Every type of vegetable has hundreds, if not thousands, of varieties to choose from. We'd recommend choosing an unusual variety that you'd be unlikely to find at a grocery store.

EXPERT TIP

Don't put off weeding your vegetables for too long. It's far easier to pull weeds while they're still small and have shallow roots.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Organic

If you want to grow truly organic vegetables, you'll need to start with organic seeds that come from vegetables grown organically. Ideally, look for seeds certified as organic by the USDA.

Non-GMO

If you want to avoid consuming genetically modified organisms (GMO) look for non-GMO seeds. Although GMO foods aren't necessarily unsafe, GMO seeds can be modified to produce sterile plants and are often associated with large, ethically unsound corporations.

Disease resistant

Some vegetables are bred selectively for their resistance to certain common diseases. For instance, disease-resistant potatoes are likely to be resistant to certain types of potato blight. Few scenarios are more disappointing than caring for vegetables for months only to have them stricken by disease just before they're ripe. Choosing disease-resistant varieties can help avoid this.

EXPERT TIP

You can grow vegetables directly in standard or raised beds or grow them in containers.


Staff  | BestReviews

Vegetable seed prices

Vegetable seeds range in price depending on several factors, such as the number of seeds in a pack and the type of vegetable.

Inexpensive: You can buy single packs of seeds for less than $5, which is great if you want to pick each seed variety individually rather than be stuck with whatever options come in a variety pack.

Mid-range: Expect to pay between $10 and $20 for small variety packs of seeds with somewhere between four and ten types of vegetables.

Expensive: Large vegetable seed variety packs can contain more than 100 varieties, though most are smaller. They can be priced anywhere from $30 to $100.

EXPERT TIP

Some varieties of vegetables ripen gradually throughout the growing season. This is ideal for home growers because it reduces the chances of an oversupply of any one vegetable.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Learn about companion planting. This is when you plant two or more different plants close to offer some protection from pests or weeds, reducing your need for weeding or pest control. When done properly, you can have an extremely low-maintenance vegetable garden.
  • Choose vegetable seeds for flavor rather than abundance. Growing vegetables is a labor of love, so after all that time and effort, you want vegetables that taste great rather than large crops of tasteless veg.
  • Grow vegetables that cost more to buy. Unless you plan on growing all of your own vegetables, it makes sense to grow more expensive vegetables, such as mangetout or asparagus, rather than vegetables you can buy for next to nothing, such as carrots and potatoes.
  • Choose open pollinated varieties if you want to save seeds. These will grow similar to the parent plant year after year. Seeds from F1 hybrids, which are created by crossing two distinct plant varieties, may not germinate and, if they do, will produce new plants that are different from their parent plants.

Other products we considered

If none of our top five vegetable seed choices are right for you, we've identified some excellent alternatives. Grow For It Heirloom Vegetable Seeds feature 50 varieties of heirloom seeds that you might not find elsewhere, including corn, beets, collards, okra, mustard greens, and squash, to name but a few. All the seeds are open pollinated and non-GMO.

If you're all about the leafy greens, the Mountain Valley Seed Company Leafy Power Green Organic Seeds contain seven varieties: spinach, kale, arugula, Swiss chard, and three types of lettuce. They have a high germination rate, plus they're organic and non-GMO.

The Sustainable Sprout Heirloom "SillySeed" Collection is a variety pack that includes radish, pea, tomato, jalapeno, carrot, kale, lettuce, and cucumber seeds. It contains some nice heirloom varieties, all of which are open pollinated and non-GMO.

Just because seeds are hybrids, it doesn't mean they're genetically modified. It simply means the seed was created by crossing two different plant varieties.

FAQ

Q. How often should I water my vegetables?
A.
This depends on a range of factors, including the time of year, the temperature, the vegetable variety, the amount of rainfall, and whether your vegetables are planted in the ground or in containers. As a rule, summer crops, such as peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini, need much more watering than winter crops. In the height of summer, you may need to water your vegetables twice a day, whereas winter crops, such as potatoes and carrots, only need watering after 14 days without rain. Look up the ideal watering schedule for the vegetables that you choose to grow.

 

Q. Should I start my seeds indoors?
A.
If you live in an area with a short growing season, you may need to start your vegetable seeds indoors in seed trays to make sure they'll have produced their harvest before the first frost arrives and kills off the plants. However, if you have a growing season of six months or more, there's really no reason to start your seeds indoors.

 

Q. How will I know when to sow my vegetable seeds?
A.
Generally, you can sow vegetable seeds for summer crops outside once the chance of frost has passed, which may be anytime between May and February, depending on the hardiness zone in which you live. Seed packets usually tell you the number of days from sowing to harvest, so if you know when you want to harvest your veg, you can work back from there. When to sow seeds for winter vegetable crops varies. Some are slow to mature and should be sown as early as late spring to early summer if you want to harvest in winter. If in doubt, you'll find plenty of books and online resources that will give you more information about when to sow your vegetable seeds.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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