Posted: 13/06/2012 at 09:39
Many gardeners used to send for seed catalogues in the autumn and spend the long winter evenings planning and perusing them before placing their orders.
These days however, it seems more usual for people to buy their seeds from the vast selection available from garden centres or online. I would just add, that garden centres usually stock popular lines & catalogues offer a better selection.
You say 'I'm a bit worried to buy too early and find the seeds don't do so well, how good are the sow by dates?' The sow by dates are pretty reliable, although seed viability varies widely i.e. tomato or beans will remain viable for three or four years, while root-crops such as parsnip should be sown fresh every year....all this comes with experience.
Potatoes should be bought just after Christmas, as they will require a period of about six weeks of chitting before planting out.