We can all admit that the last few years have been a bit . . . out of the ordinary to say the least! For gardeners, it might be in our best interest to prepare earlier than normal to start seeds indoors than we typically do.
From a massive shortage of toilet paper to backlogs in shipments, chaos and rash purchases seem to have taken over the last few years. Whether you were one stocking up on toiletries or waiting until the last square was used up, it never hurts to get a game plan in mind. And that includes your next year’s garden.
Normally, you are more than safe to wait a few months into the new year before making your indoor seed starting purchases. However, due to an increase in demand and shipping delays, might make you want to make those purchases a bit sooner.
Plan Don’t Panic – Why To Prepare Early To Start Seeds Indoors
First off, don’t panic! There is a big difference between panic buying and preparing. Panic buying means just going out and purchasing everything in sight without really thinking the situation through. It means making rash decisions and hoarding items.
That is definitely not what is being suggested. In contrast, it might be wise to prepare and plan out your gardening future for the next year a bit earlier than normal in case items become too hard to find.
Why Prepare Early To Start Seeds Indoors
Reasons For Delays
It’s no surprise to anyone that prices of virtually everything have gone up. You notice it at your local grocery store when you go to pay, and you notice it when you fill up your gas tank when its on “E.”
But it isn’t just day-to-day purchases that have increased. Input costs like fertilizers, machinery equipment, initial seeds, packaging materials, work wages, etc. have all gone up. All of these input prices affect the farmers and gardeners who provide the seeds for seed companies.
In addition, many of the small, family-owned operations haven’t been able to make ends meet and have had to close. Fewer farmers mean fewer seeds being produced and available to consumers.
The influx of people who were homebound the last few years rose substantially. Those individuals were looking for ways to pass their time. Starting a garden was one such pastime that worked for many people.
Seed companies have to plan in advance to grow, prepare, and package seeds for the following year. These companies have no way of knowing what the demands for seeds are and usually have to rely on past trends.
Since there was an increase in people gardening, the demand for seeds also increased, diminishing the supply. This backlog of being short of seeds has carried on to this year’s seed availability. The higher demand for seeds also makes finding some varieties difficult or even downright impossible.
The increase of people purchasing items online as opposed to going in person has caused a strain on shipping companies. In addition, delays at the global level have also not helped the situation.
What used to take a few days to arrive once you ordered it now may take several weeks. In order to start seeds indoors on time this year, you might want to plan ahead and purchase your seeds a month or two sooner than you normally would to help account for this shipping delay.
Lack Of Workers
Lastly, there is a reduction in labor availability. Companies as well as farming and gardening operations have struggled to find dependable, healthy workers. Whether it is a lack of people answering the phones to packaging up the orders, many companies are experiencing delays.
How To Prepare Early To Start Seeds Indoors
Again, you shouldn’t buy in a panic and we aren’t talking about hoarding seeds here. What we are talking about is being practical and preparing for the upcoming growing season like you do every year, just doing it a little bit sooner than you typically do.
Instead of waiting until late winter to make those purchases, move things up a few months. So, for example, if you normally make your indoor seed starting purchases in March, maybe consider doing them at the first of the new year instead.
Plan It Out
First off, take the time to plan out next year’s gardening and planting goals.
Consider what worked this growing season and what you need to improve on. Think about what crops you enjoyed growing and what seemed to struggle in your garden area. Refer to your Garden Journal for notes that you’ve taken throughout this past and previous years.
List what seeds you are going to need to purchase to make your upcoming gardening goals happen. Some of your crops will need to be purchased as transplants while others will take actual seeds.
From your list of required seeds, some will need to be directly sowed while others will need to be started indoors prior to being moved to your garden area. Those crops that you need to start indoors as well as any direct sowed early spring crops should be the first ones on your list to purchase.
Even if your local garden centers don’t have seed packets available for purchase quite yet, most online seed companies are already selling the new upcoming year’s seeds. Browse your favorite company’s website, and see if your seeds are available to purchase.
Don’t forget to consider smaller seed companies as well as well-known ones. Many of these smaller, family-owned businesses produce great quality seeds and you can often find wonderful heirloom varieties this way.
Don’t Forget Other Supplies
In addition to purchasing your seeds sooner, consider what other supplies you are going to need as well. Growing containers, seed starting soil, fertilizers, grow lights, etc. are all items you are going to need in order to successfully start seeds indoors. These items might also be hard to come by this upcoming year.
As a side note, if you can’t find actual grow lights, you can very successfully start seeds indoors by using simple LED shop lights. You can find more information about using LED lights in this article, How To Start Seeds Indoors With LED Lights.
Storing Seeds Properly
Once you receive your purchased seeds, make sure to store them properly. Using a plastic container meant for storing 4×6” photographs work excellent for this purpose. Most seed packets fit nicely into the individual containers, and you can keep them labeled for easy access and safekeeping.
To Conclude…Be Patient And Flexible!
Even if you take every step to prepare early to start your seeds indoors, you might still run into an issue or two. Whether it’s your favorite heirloom seeds being unavailable or the exact brand of potting mix you rely on each year being back-ordered, don’t fret!
Maybe this is the year for you to try something new and different. Who knows, maybe you will find your next favorite new seed variety or a new growing medium that works even better than your old one. Sometimes, the best laid out plans are the ones that come out differently than you expected in the end!
And besides, there’s always the next year!