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Where to buy seeds

Where to buy seeds

Marshall and I have moved a LOT in our five years of marriage.  In that time we’ve lived in 5 different homes in 4 different states.  Last year we finally landed in Virginia and the first thing I wanted to do was start a garden.  I love food, I love plants and I love being outdoors so gardening is a natural fit.  I have a tendency to jump in over my head so I ordered a bunch of seed catalogs and got way too excited:)  The catalogs were gorgeous, the plant descriptions sounded so delicious and I literally wanted to grow (and eat) everything!  I eventually decided to order from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds plus a few extras from Seed Savers, in all I ordered over 20 packets.  I was worried that it was too much for my first year but things worked out really well (see http://youngmotherhubbard.com/http:/1382/notes-from-my-garden/ for an overview of our garden!).

You might be wondering why bother starting seeds when you can just buy transplants.  Well for starters, starting your own seeds is much less expensive.  Most seed packets cost around $2-$3 and contain 20-100+ seeds.  This makes it fun to share or barter seeds with friends and if stored properly most seeds last for at least a couple years.  But the best part of seed starting is that you have access to the most amazing variety of plants you can imagine.  I was literally blown away by the diversity of plants available.  For example, did you know there are over 300 types of garlic and over 5,000 types of tomatoes?  Holy cow!  Another important perk of seed starting is that you can avoid the chemically laden, genetically modified plants that are overtaking the food industry.  There are great options for people who love heirloom seeds and don’t want to support the patented, GMO mess.  My personal favorites are Baker Creek, Seed Savers and Seeds of Change.  They offer a wide variety of open-pollinted, non-patented seed.  And the catalogs are so pretty you could keep them on your coffee table.  Here’s an overview of my top three:

  • Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – Website: http://rareseeds.com/.  This is my personal favorite seed catalog and the company I ordered most of my seed from.  They offer over 1,300 varieties of pure seed including vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers.  Their prices are very reasonable (the cheapest of the three) and I can vouch for their high seed quality.  The catalog is beautiful – it’s oversized, has tons of full color pictures and it’s well laid out.  The descriptions are helpful and often contain a bit of history which I like.  They offer a wide variety of plants without being overwhelming.  They also offer a small collection of books and gardening items (this section could be better).  If you want good seeds at a reasonable price, this is the catalog for you.
  • Seeds of Change – Website: http://www.seedsofchange.com/default.aspx.  This company offers over 1,200 varieties of certified organic seed.  They’re the only certified organic company of the three but they’re also the most expensive.  However they counter the price by offering things the others do not, including an interesting variety of live seedlings, apple trees as well as gardening items such as grow lights, raised beds, composters and miscellaneous tools and supplies.  The catalog is interspersed with gardening tips and bits of trivia.  This is a good choice if you want organic seed and a wide range of both seeds and other products.
  • Seed Savers Exchange – Website: http://seedsavers.org/.  This company is one of the world’s best sources of heirloom seed.  The catalog offers over 600 seed varieties for sale to the general public.  If you become a member ($40/year) you’ll gain access to over 13,000 additional seed varieties.  This is really cool but unnecessary – 600 varieties is more than enough for your average person.  But hey, it’s good to have options right?  In addition to seeds, they also offer tomato and pepper seedlings and a nice selection of gardening books.  This is another beautiful, well organized catalog you’ll be glad you got.

All three of these companies distribute a free, color catalog that can be ordered on their websites.  Ours took about 3 weeks to arrive and I opted to have a new one sent to me automatically at the end of each year, in fact I just got my 2012 Baker Creek and Seed Savers catalog last week!  Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s really cool to see what’s available and since they’re free you have nothing to lose.  Have fun!

For reviews of additional vendors I use and love, see:  http://youngmotherhubbard.com/reviews/vendors-i-love/

Photo Credit: Seed Packs, a photo by LollyKnit on Flickr.

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