Most gardeners may feel very comfortable understanding all the information that comes on a seed packet, but there are some novice gardeners that might be confused with all the symbols, abbreviations, and pictures. All the information that is contained on a seed packet is very vital towards the success of growing that particular plant. Seed packets will differ from one distributor to another, but most seed packets offer a brief description of the plant, how to sow the seeds, when to sow the seeds, and what type of environment the seeds need to germinate and grow. Here is a breakdown of a seed packet and what information it may give:
The Front of the Seed Packet
First, we will start with a picture of the front of a seed packet. This is a package of 'Kentucky Blue' Pole Garden Beans. I simply call these pole beans, and there are many different cultivars. They are referred to as pole beans mainly because they grow as a vine, and are usually grown up a pole or trellis.
Looking at the above picture you will see the front of the seed packet. Let’s break this picture down even further and find out all the information on the front of this seed packet.
This is the weight of the seeds contained in the seed packet. This particular packet has 28 grams of pole bean seeds.
This box denotes that the seeds contained in the packet are a vegetable.
This is the price of the seed packet.
This is the type of vegetable seeds (Garden Beans) you are getting, and the cultivar (‘Kentucky Blue’-Pole).
This is a picture of what the pole beans will look like once ready to harvest.
These pictures are a quick reference so that you will know that these pole beans can be preserved by freezing (the first picture on the left), they are disease resistant (the center picture), and that they can also be preserved by canning (the picture on the far right).
This is the name of the seed company, in this case Ferry Morse.
The Back of the Seed Packet
The back of the seed packet is where most of the information about your seeds is contained. There is a lot of pertinent information listed here, and should be followed for optimum productivity of your plants. Let’s take a look at the back of my pole bean seed packet.
I’m going to split the back of the seed packet in half, so that I can better illustrate what information each section of the packet gives. I will begin with the top half of the seed packet.
This again gives you the type of vegetable seeds that are contained in the packet, and the particular cultivar of the vegetable.
This is more than likely a catalog or inventory number.
This is the description of the vegetable seeds contained in the packet. Ferry Morse describes these pole beans as:
An All-American Selection! Outstanding combination of quality characteristics from its Kentucky Wonder and Blue Lake parents! For optimum flavor and tenderness, harvest pods at 6-7 inches. Excellent snap beans. Disease resistant. This packet will plant approximately a 28 foot row.
As you can see this description gives you the details of where this cultivar of pole beans derived from, when to harvest, how many feet it will sow, and some characteristics of this particular pole bean.
This is the planting chart for these particular seeds. The chart tell you how many days it normally takes for these seeds to germinate (6-8 days), how many days after germination the pole beans will be ready to harvest (60 days), how deep to sow the seeds (1 – 1 ½), how far to space them out (3 feet between rows/ 8 inches between plants), and that you can preserve the harvest by freezing and canning.
This section gives you detailed information about sowing the seeds, and then how to thin out the seedlings once the seeds have germinated.
This area is the help phone number for Ferry Morse, and the company’s website address.
That is quite a bit of information, but we are not done yet. Here is the bottom half of the seed packet:
It is difficult to see in the photo, but this is the “Suggestions” section. Not all seed packets will have this. It gives you suggestions for growing this particular vegetable. This particular packet suggests:
Avoid working around beans when they are wet; this may spread disease. When weeding, how gently because beans are shallow-rooted. Mulch plants only after thinning.
That is some very good information to know!
This section is a table and chart that tells you the best times of the year to sow the seeds. You simply find the area of the country you live in on the chart of the U.S. You match the color of your area to the color in the table above. That will give you the time of the year you can sow the seeds.
For instance, if you live in Florida, you will notice the map is shaded green in your area. According to the table, you can grow these pole beans from March through August. If you live in Montana, your area is shaded orange, and you can grow these beans from late May through June.
This stamp gives you the lot number of the seed packet, and the expiration date. Seeds do not really expire, but their germination rates will decrease as the seeds get older.
This section is the name of the seed company and its address.
I hope this how-to was information, and helped you to understand how to read a seed packet!