Selecting seeds for a hydroponic garden doesn’t vary much from selecting seeds for a traditional outdoor garden but there are some things to keep in mind during the selection process. Whenever possible start plants from seed. Starting your indoor garden from seed gives you a wider variety of plants to choose from and also lessens the possibility of inadvertently introducing unwanted guests like bugs or viruses into your garden. Most varieties of any plant can be grown using hydroponics and some varieties (especially those developed for controlled environments) tend to grow faster and have a higher yield than traditional “field” varieties.
Select seeds based on the type of product you prefer and your indoor garden’s indoor conditions. Do you prefer the tiny bursts of flavor from grape tomatoes fresh from the vine or would you like home grown Beefsteaks for your BLTs? These are critical decisions that weigh heavily on every gardener’s mind! When considering your indoor conditions, remember that generally speaking, during cooler months, plants that tolerate cooler temperatures and lower light conditions will produce better results. This is because some varieties produce higher yields under lower temperatures and less light.
Once you’ve narrowed your selection, verify that the variety you’ve chosen is resistant to any particular pests or disease that you think you may have problems with. If you are familiar with what problems other gardeners in your area are having with a certain type of plant, you may save yourself a lot of time and effort.
When consulting seed catalogs look at the temperature and light requirements for the plants you are selecting, not only the yield of the plant. If you aren’t able to provide the proper environment for the particular variety you have chosen you will be disappointed in the results. Whenever possible, use seeds that are less than two to three years old. Older seeds tend to produce smaller plants and smaller (if any) fruit. Sometimes older seeds may not germinate at all! This is definitely not the result you want. Also find out how the seeds were stored. Ideally the seeds you are considering to use in your indoor garden have been stored in a cool, dark, dry space away from unnecessary moisture. This leads us to the next step in the selection process:
An ideal place to store seeds is in a tightly lidded jar in a basement or refrigerator. A brown paper bag that has been taped shut can be used instead of jars. Some gardeners use both storage methods- seeds are first placed in a brown paper bag, the bag is taped shut, and the bag is then placed in a lidded jar. If you are concerned that your seeds may be exposed to unnecessary light (this is especially something to consider if you are storing seed in a refrigerator), you may want to take these additional steps. Never store seeds in a freezer because storing them this way will make them become dormant.
Choosing the right seed is an important first step in any garden. Selecting high quality seed from a reputable company will improve your chances for success in your indoor garden. By properly storing seeds at the end of your plants life cycle you will have access to productive seeds for your indoor garden at any time.