Garden of Eatin' / Seeds & Seedlings

Who’s Ready for Spring Sowing?

Oodles of seed packets for spring

Ahhh… The days are getting longer, the air is getting warmer, and many of us are starting to think about sowing seeds for spring.

After our non-winter this winter (we had only two days of rain and cold before the weather jumped back up to a summery 80°F this week), I’m eager to leave behind my non-winter garden and start anew.

Over the holidays, I visited the California headquarters of one of my sponsors (and a truly wonderful seed supplier), Petaluma Seed Bank in the charming Sonoma County town of Petaluma, California. Since 2009, the Seed Bank has occupied the former Sonoma County Bank building in the town’s historic city center. As the west coast arm of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, the Seed Bank offers over 1,400 varieties of non-GMO heirloom seeds from all over the world.

Petaluma Seed Bank

Image by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Walking into the store felt like I had just walked right onto the pages of their catalog, which I simply adore. Garden Betty let loose after hours in the Seed Bank? Dangerous!

Many of the seeds I chose for spring are completely new varieties for me. This season, I’ll try growing corn for the first time — I picked up Country Gentleman sweet corn and Golden Bantam 12-Row corn, but need to decide on only one to sow, as different types of corn will cross-pollinate.

My favorite warm-weather crop is the tomato, so I picked up a few new varieties — Pineapple, Pink Accordion, Duggin White, Tsar’s Royal Gift, Paul Robeson, Black Elephant, Sungold Select (a limited variety available only in the store), and since my Red Zebra was such an overachiever last year, I’m trying the Green Zebra this year.

I also love a fresh, crisp cucumber and discovered the Dragon’s Egg variety, which yields heavy vines of egg-shaped, cream-colored fruit. Knowing my penchant for pickling, Paul at the Seed Bank recommended the Mexican Sour Gherkin — a palm-sized cucumber that looks just like a baby watermelon and is perfect for putting by. He also introduced me to the Metki Dark Green Serpent, an Armenian heirloom melon that is actually used like a cucumber.

Some other seeds that I’m especially excited to start are Molten Fire amaranthTaiwan Black Seeded long bean, Ronde de Nice squash, Black Futsu squash, Brazilian Oval Orange eggplant, Quadrato d’Asti Giallo pepperShishito pepper, Fish pepper, Charentais melon, Hopi Yellow watermelon, Vietnamese mint (to replace the one that died last year), and Yellow Wonder wild strawberry (a creamy yellow variety that’s said to be more flavorful than the common red strawberry).

For the chickens’ forage “pasture” (really just a raised bed for their exclusive grazing), I picked up a few packets of Dwarf Essex rape, Austrian Winter pea, and buckwheat. And for the bees, Lemon Queen sunflowers!

Who else has gone seed shopping already? What are you psyched to be sowing for spring?

This post is brought to you by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that support Garden Betty.

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • vera@growntocook
    February 2, 2012 at 3:51 am

    I so envy you! Here in the Netherlands it’s -6 degrees Celsius at the moment and I’ll only start sowing in March. Plus it’s still unsure whether we can keep our garden as the allotment is threatened by developement. I can’t imagine not being able to grow veg this year…

  • Meemsnyc
    January 27, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    OMG, the Petaluma Seed Bank would be a dangerous place for me to visit.  I’ll have to go there one day!  Those seed packets look awesome!

    • Linda Ly
      February 1, 2012 at 11:21 pm

      I highly recommend stopping by the Seed Bank sometime! It’s like a candy store for gardeners.

      • lorna
        April 12, 2021 at 9:18 am

        The Petaluma Seed Bank is no longer in the Sonoma County Bank Building. It is now on the main strip in Petaluma, 110 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma, CA 94952. Still SO MANY SEEDS and so many varieties. It’s like being a kid in a candy store, like you say.

  • Ragamuffinyogini
    January 27, 2012 at 7:06 am

    My seeds have arrived and I’ve begun starting them under a light in the house. Here in TX we plant potatoes and onions in February so we are getting started soon. I have to say we have (so far) had a non-winter too except for freezing temps some nights the days are very warm. I have lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots and cilantro in the garden already! I always go with what works, but I think you might just have inspired me to look for so “exotics” to try this year…..what am exciting haul of seeds!!!

    • Linda Ly
      February 1, 2012 at 11:24 pm

      The exotics are the most exciting part of gardening for me, since I never know how they’ll grow or what they’ll look or taste like. Some varieties that I’m originally uncertain about become seasonal favorites!

  • Martin
    January 27, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Still to early hear- we are still in Winter although relatively mild in the last few weeks, getting colder again (Suffolk, England)

    • Linda Ly
      February 1, 2012 at 11:28 pm

      Cold? What’s that? 😉

  • Daedre Craig
    January 27, 2012 at 6:19 am

    I found myself clicking on almost every link you included. I love seeds!


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