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If you grow some seeds and like the results, try growing another strain from that same breeder and see how it goes.

The first couple months of the year is a great time to start planning your cannabis garden to get a head start on the outdoor growing season, which roughly runs from March to November, depending on where you live.

How to look for quality genetics when buying marijuana seeds

Autoflower plants change from the vegetative to flowering state with age, not the changing of their light cycle. They have a short grow-to-harvest time and can be ready to harvest in as little as 2 ½ to 3 months from when you put the seeds in the ground. The downside is that, typically, they are less potent, but autoflower seeds are great for people who want to grow cannabis but don’t want to spend a lot of time doing it.

An inexperienced breeder might cross a male and a female one time and sell the resulting seeds as a new hybrid strain, but professional breeders usually put their strains through several rounds of backcrossing to stabilize the genetics and ensure consistent plants that reflect those genetics.

When you grow any amount of seeds, a percentage of them won’t germinate, even if you get them from a reputable breeder. Always count on a few not germinating or dying off, or roughly 1/4 of the total you put in the ground.

This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.

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You can grow a beautiful garden by purchasing good-quality seeds that are well-suited for your climate. Growing plants from seed is a more cost-effective option than buying plants to transplant into your garden. Buy organic seeds from local businesses or online from small, reputable companies.

Many vegetable garden plants can be started from seeds while it's still cold and snowy outside. The trick, of course, is to sow them indoors and then transplant them into your garden once the soil has warmed up again in spring. Cool-weather plants, such as cabbage and broccoli, especially benefit from a jump-start indoors so they have a chance to bloom and produce a crop before the heat of summer shuts them down. Warm-season crops, such as tomatoes and bell peppers, also can be started under grow lights and moved into the garden after your area's frost-free date so they'll produce an earlier and longer harvest for you. A grow light can be as simple as a fluorescent shop light hung just inches over your seed trays.

The seemingly endless varieties you’ll find for sale in seed catalogs and online can be daunting. Here’s how to make smart selections you’ll enjoy growing and eating.

2. Consider Your Space

Vegetable varieties vary in how long it takes for them to mature, so you'll also need to make selections best suited to your climate. Start by checking the "days to harvest" information on the seed packet and calculating if your growing season is sufficiently long enough for the crop you want to grow. If you live in a northern climate with a shorter growing season, focus on faster-maturing varieties of garden seeds to ensure harvest before frost. In the South, you'll have an easier time growing plants such as okra that require a longer season of hot weather.

When trying to decide which seeds to buy, figuring out how much room you have for growing them will help you narrow down the choices. If you have a small garden, you may want to avoid space-hogging vegetables such as sweet corn, pumpkins, or squash. Instead, focus on higher-yielding, more compact vegetables such as salad greens, radishes, bush beans, and peppers. Some vegetables are available in space-saving varieties (determinate versus indeterminate tomatoes, for example), which can help you maximize every inch of growing space you have.

A vegetable garden isn't complete without adding some flower seeds in the mix! Not only do they add welcome color, they help attract pollinators that can improve the yield from several types of crops such as squash. Many annual flowers such as zinnia, African marigold, nasturtium, and sunflower are easy and quick to grow from seeds sown directly in the garden after your last frost date.