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Jan 3, 2011 12:20 PM

US seed suppliers versus Italian seed suppliers

I think it is about time that we take US seed suppliers to task for being expensively stingy. They sell 30 hot pepper seeds for anywhere from $2.35 to over $4.00 depending on the seller.

My wife and I were in Italy in the summer of 2010. I bought packets of peperoncini (hot peppers in US parlance) for 1.5 Euro each. Each packet had at least 300 seeds in it if not more. I shared 60 seeds from each packet with a neighbor down the street. Even with the money conversion factor I came out way ahead, and there was no shipping and handling charge. I've stopped buying seeds from US dealers and save seeds from previous years. My advanced degree is in quantitative genetics, so I don't care if the flowers are cross pollinated. I only grow very hot peppers, and I'm only interested in the amount of capsaicin that is produced.

We should stop supporting US seed companies until they become more generous.

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  1. Chilidude,
    Are you comparing the exact same pepper varieties? Those expensive seeds are often hybrids (usually denoted with F1), and the majority of the cost for a small quantity is in packaging and handling. Even so, commercial quantities aren't cheap, due to the patent.

    Open pollinated varieties are usually less expensive, but, again, the cost of a small pack of seeds will involve the packaging factor.

    Check out this supplier's price for 1/8 ounce of pepperoncini seeds.

    You might also try Johnny's in Maine for bulk pricing.

    2 Replies
    1. re: farrago

      I am aware of Tomato Growers. I've been a customer of theirs, and receive a hard copy annually, altho there is an online catalog. I also receive catalogs from other seed companies, most of them having too limited a choice of cultivars.

      BTW, you're preaching to the choir when it comes to genetics. As indicated in my original post, i more than 1 degree in genetics from a cow college, The University of Illinois (the word 'The' was included just in case you're from that arrogant school in Columbus, Ohio). I've been growing chilies since I've had a home where I could do it...over 40 years.

      Curiosity causes me to allow open pollination ever since a chocolate habanero plant produced pods that were not expected in the shape of a wrinkled, more pointed jalapeno and orange in color. I've planted F1, F2, F3, etc. seeds from the original cross which had to be with a C. annuum cultivar.

      My objective in growing chiles is for their pungency, and not for their phenotype.

      1. re: ChiliDude

        Alas, I only have twenty years of playing in the dirt. I am glad to hear you have the background and patience to breed an open pollinated variety after an unexpected result from a hybrid.

        My inspiration comes from Steve Solomon, who started Territorial Seeds out in Oregon. He described the hows and whys of seed pricing.

        If you need to purchase seed, consider buying them in bulk and storing them for longevity (closed container, cool storage, and a silica gel pack). However, this won't work for short-lived seeds, e.g. spinach.

        Since you have the knowledge and power, and since peppers are self-pollinating, once you find the cultivar that has the pungency you desire, would consider making a project of breeding that pepperoncini?

        There are lots of gardeners who have the same concerns and wishes as you.

    2. We got seed last year from these two companies:

      Both were generous in the amount of seed and had fair prices. Some of the foil seed packets were printed in Italian but I can't remember which company those came from. We did buy the small bulk quantities for a number of things that we succession plant but even the packet sizes that we bought were generous enough that for some things we have seeds for this year's garden.

      3 Replies
      1. re: morwen

        Thanks for the URLs. I was unaware of that seed purveyor. I seeds that I bought in Italy came from the Campania region, Naples is the capital.

        1. re: morwen

          OOPS! I meant to put up links to two different companies and had an operator error!
          Here's the second company:

          1. re: morwen

            Wow, they have sweet alyssum in bulk...much better than buying by the packet, even at Christmas Tree SHops. Thanks for the link!