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Book Review: ‘Starting & Saving Seeds’ sets gardeners up for success — and enter to win a copy!

Imagine a gardening expert who outlines all the steps needed to set up a seed-starting area in your home — and reassure you that “you’ve got this”.

Because with Julie’s help, you do.

Are you intimidated by the thought of starting seeds — or even saving seeds at the end of the season? Julie Thompson-Adolf outlines the steps you can take to become a self-sufficient gardener in her new book, “Starting & Saving Seeds”. You’ll be able to start seeds now and successfully harvest them for storing at the end of the season. 

The book offers practical advice for those new to seed-starting as well as tips for experienced gardeners. Walking the line between newbie and experienced gardens is tough to do, but Thompson-Adolf’s book blends perfectly.

“I wanted more people — not just master gardeners — to have the confidence to grow plants from seeds,” she said. “I’ve found that even some of the most brilliant gardeners I know are hesitant to grow from seeds, because they’re afraid that it’s too difficult.”

Simplifying the seed-starting process 

Throughout the book, Thompson-Adolf gives you the tools to set you up for success. She shares the specifics for several fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers that are popular to grow in gardens. Is a plant finicky to start from seed? There are ways to tackle its special needs. To save seeds for next year, Thompson-Adolf shares the best way to secure pure seed and how to process those seeds for storage.

Thompson-Adolf practices what she preaches. She’s grown the seeds herself and shares hints to encourage stubborn seeds to germinate. She shares how she makes her own soil mix to start seeds, and even a do-it-yourself approach to creating a grow light structure.

Gardening doesn’t have to be expensive. “For the price of one pack of seeds, you could buy one head of lettuce — or 100 lettuce plants,” she said “If a flat of vinca plants costs $17.99 for 32 plants — and who buys just one flat? — it makes economic sense to start your bedding plants from seed.”

Tried and true methods lead to informational sections 

“Part II: Meet the Plants” includes vital info on the best ways to grow veggies, herbs and flowers. It also shares how long seeds are viable (it changes depending on the seed).

“I actually really do pay attention to viability,” she said. “The spring is so busy for me that I don’t want to lose any extra time with a variety failure. I’m pretty rigid about adhering to my seed freshness to avoid replanting or lost crops.”

A view inside "Saving & Starting Seeds".

Every gardener has a favorite plant to grow. For Thompson-Adolf, you can tell that one of her favorites is tomatoes, because that section is packed with information.

“I find tomatoes fascinating, simply because there are so many amazing varieties – and I want to grow them all!” she said. “I always think it’s interesting how the seeds look the same, basically, whether it’s a Purple Cherokee or Jaune Flamme.”

(You know an author is serious when she grew 184 varieties of heirloom tomato plants — in one year — to sell at the farmer’s market.)

Thompson-Adolf admits that she is “slightly” obsessed with seeds, which makes her the perfect person to share why seeds are just so fascinating. “The idea that a tiny seed that’s the size of a speck of dust can grow to gorgeous poppy, for instance, just floors me. They’re the perfect blend of science and magic.”

Thompson-Adolf goes into detail in her book not only on tricks to sow tomatoes successfully, but how to harvest and save the seeds for next year, too.  She also offers seed varieties that she recommends you grow in your garden as well.

“Starting & Saving Seeds” helps empower gardeners to become self-sufficient and successful at growing seeds. There's definitely a lot of information packed into this book and deserves a place on your gardening bookshelf.

A view inside "Saving & Starting Seeds".

Enter to win 

Thompson-Adolf’s exuberance for starting seeds is contagious. This is the perfect time of year to begin planning what you will grow in your garden — why not extend your seed-starting endeavors with her book?

One lucky reader of Frau Zinnie will win a new copy of “Starting & Saving Seeds: Grow the Perfect Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs and Flowers For Your Garden.” This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and runs through 3:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, Jan. 27.

Win a copy of "Starting & Savings Seeds"

“Starting & Saving Seeds: Grow the Perfect Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs, and Flowers for Your Garden” By Julie Thompson-Adolf. Published by Quarto Homes. Retail price $25 USD.  

*Quarto Homes provided me with a review copy of this book. Opinions expressed above are my own.


  1. I've been saving seeds in a small way for a couple years. I definitely want to do more, as it's economical and just plain fun! Tomatoes are also my favorite, but I only have a couple dozen varieties.

    1. I agree - it is definitely fun to save seeds! Good luck in the giveaway! :-)

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