While this is being written, all the most important of seed orders for the garden will be in the hands of the seedsman, and busy hands are now employed late and early in wrapping up, labelling, packing, and sending off seeds to every corner of the country to be in readiness for the seed-time which is now upon us. The Gardener's seed-time is almost all the year round, but the great bulk of garden-seeds are sown from the second to the fourth month. While we write (the 13th of February), the ground has not been in such trim for receiving seeds for five months: it is dry, loose on the surface, and firm to the tread. In speaking of seeds, the first thing uppermost on our mind is a repugnance to old and cheap seeds - have nothing to do with either. Some seeds are said to be better for being old - for instance, Melon and Cucumber seeds; but we are very doubtful of the saying; we don't at all think it is a fact. Some seeds will keep their vitality a long time, and will be little deteriorated for a year or two's rest: but deteriorated they will be to some extent, and, besides, it all depends on the keeping.

The best seeds will be completely spoiled in a few months, or even weeks, by bad keeping - that is, being too damp or even too dry, and cold will injure the vitality of many seeds of exotic plants, such as Melons, Cucumbers, tender Annuals, either of flowers or vegetables: they are just as susceptible to cold as the bulbs of Caladiums, Begonias, Gladiolus, or Potatoes, or any exotic bulbs, - so that the quality of old seeds depends very much on how they have been kept. We have also a great suspicion of cheap seeds. The professional gardener is generally too wide-awake, and his responsibilities too pressing, to allow himself to beguiled by cheap and inferior seeds; but it is surprising how many people, indeed the great majority of seed-buyers, run after cheap seeds, just as they will after cheap tea or anything else; and cheap seeds are supplied in plenty. There seems always to be an inexhaustible stock of cheap seeds. Annually, we have numerous complaints as to the failure of seeds, and crops coming untrue to name. On the latter point we might ourselves have something to say. The best remedy we recommend is to deal with houses of known respectability, give the price, and stick to your seedsman.

Nothing we know is so dear in the end as cheap seeds: at the same time the dearest are not always by any means the best. Those who have a hankering after novelties may have them by paying the novel price. Before sowing seeds it is an excellent plan to soak all seeds in tepid water: one night's soaking will do for some; with others, such as Canna seeds, those of the Camellia, Palm-seeds, Ipomoea, Passiflora, and many of a leathery texture, will want several days' soaking: this insures the seeds germinating more evenly and coining up together, and it also exposes at once bad seeds; good seeds swell up quickly and keep their colour, bad seeds soon look worse when steeped. Like dried and shrivelled Anemone-bulbs, in one night after being planted they will swell like to burst their jackets if sound - if unsound they will not. The placing of seeds in bottom-heat at once after sowing is often a great mistake, though done with the object of facilitating matters, although many seeds respond at once to a lively bottom-heat and come up vigorous and well; others will not, but are not unusually spoiled by it: many seeds require time to germinate, and will not be forced.

Such seeds as Tacsonia, Lapageria, Clianthus, Primulas of sorts, Camellia, will be found to germinate more satisfactorily in a moist, mild atmospheric temperature, than plunged in bottom heat; or they will even do better sown in the open air under a hand-light in summer.

In spring all seeds should be covered lightly; the soil is yet cold, and if deeply covered they may rot or be killed before germination. The soil is moist enough on the surface at this season for all seeds, and when lightly covered they feel the sun-heat sooner. Seeds of succulents, which should now be sown if not done in autumn, should not be covered at all, but sown on a fine surface, the soil previously well soaked with water; Fern and Orchid seeds in the same way, merely covering the pan with a piece of glass or a bell-glass. Lobelia, Petunia, Wigandia, Pyrethrum, Coleus, and suchlike fine-seeded things, should be managed in the same way. Larger seeds may be covered lightly, and avoid with these too much water at this season: in moist soil no water is necessary until they have germinated, if the seed-pans are in a moist pit.

To mention all the seeds which should or might be sown this month, would embrace the most of the catalogue. Peas are a vexatious question: our first sowing of Sangster's No. 1 and Early Long Pod Beans was in January, covering the seed with a dose of wood-ashes. Onions should be sown as soon after the new year as possible; we have sown them, 200 miles north of the Tweed, in the second week of February; our summers are none too long to grow and mature the Onion crop, at least in the north: the immense fine-ripened Onions from Spain and Portugal are plump and hard in the shop-windows after our English Onions are all sprouting. Soil for Onions should be rich on the surface to start them; they are not deep rooting: draw the drills entirely in rotten manure if possible, sow thin, and after the first thinning of the crop, give a dressing of guano to stimulate the young plants over the season in early May, when the ground is still cold; this is the time when weakness in a quarter of Onions generally shows itself.

Carrots, Parsnips, Parsley, should be sown early while the soil is moist, and that they may get a good hold of the ground before drought sets in; a dry, hungry soil is useless for these. The seeds of the two former being light, should be lightly covered; a sprinkling of wood-ashes is a good covering for Carrots. Plump, well-grown French horn Carrots are much the most acceptable with the cook at all times for the dining-room; the larger sorts as intermediate Carrots for general use. It is often recommended to dig in a layer of dung under the first spit of soil to make Carrots long; they are said to run down for the dung. We don't think the spit of dung has anything to do with the length of either Carrots or Parsnips. Soil for the Carrot should be rich, just as for any other crop, but it should be open in texture, and with a moist, cool bottom; the tap-root of the Carrot will go down a long way after moisture, which is the secret for long Carrots. The soft, hairy, finely-cut foliage points to the great demand the plant has upon it for water in dry summer weather. The moist boggy lands in Surrey grow Carrots well: when sown early in such land they will not readily go to seed; but on high gravelly soil they will be sure to bolt, and the roots will be all heart and woody.

The same remarks apply to the Parsnip still more forcibly. The Irishman's tale of the Parsnip grown in the deserted pump-barrel, if a fiction, is certainly founded on fact. Parsley also should be sown very early, and requires a deep, rich soil: sow in drills and transplant a portion; sow shallow, - the ground is moist enough at the surface, and the sun not much power to dry. Celery, another of the moisture-loving Umbellifene, though a hardy native, must be sown in heat for early planting; in the south, for the main crop, it is time enough to sow in the open air the end of March.

There are a number of seeds which it is undesirable to sow too soon, as the chances are they will perish largely; for instance, the better sorts of the Marrow Peas will quickly rot in cold wet soil. Kidney-beans no one will think of sowing out of doors before May in the north, the second week in April in the south. Beet is time enough in April; for early use it may be sown in heat, and transplanted on a warm border. Cold and wet injures the vitality of many seeds reputed hardy - even cold and damp drawers in the seed-room - and when a failure comes the seedsman is blamed.

On the other hand, it is well known that the seeds of many things reputed tender will live through the winter though barely covered, and grow in spring; for instance, New Zealand Spinach, Nasturtium, Mignonette, and numbers of flower-seeds - and we have seen an instance of a Tomato which came up and grew most vigorous, and ripened a heavy crop of fruit in the open ground.

All seeds, supposing them to be good, should be sown thin; when the seedlings come up thick, they at once begin a struggle for existence, and starve each other, and thinning does not improve matters for the time; we have known whole beds of seedlings go off very quickly by being too thickly sown. Seed-beds should also be of rich soil: every living thing, when young, should be well fed. There is no doubt but there is quite three times as much seed sown on the cultivated surface of these islands as is necessary, more particularly in gardens. Secure good seeds, and sow them thin. The Squire's Gardener.