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Jul 17, 2012 09:02 PM

Your favorite place to buy seeds/heirloom seeds

I'm a beginner (poor college student) gardener living in an apartment that finally has enough light to grow stuff (I JUST moved which is why I'm starting the gardening late). I'm interested in trying out some different varieties of veggies that I can't find at my farmers' markets around here - like rainbow carrots. I've been doing a lot of research and feel about as well-prepared for the start as I can be. So my question: where are your favorite places to buy heirloom seeds? I know of Seed Savers, and I've found some stuff on Etsy but they're so expensive by comparison to Seed Savers (again, that whole broke college student thing). I've been looking at a couple of stores around here, but they largely seem to have the standard varieties.

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  1. I like Johnny's Seed and Fedco but I'm gardening in NH. Baker's Creek also has an amazing variety but darned if there are a few things I can only get at ONE of the suppliers and I know shipping mounts up. You might try finding a gardening friend to split shipping costs.

    Also, start looking around right now for sales on seeds. The food coop I shop at occasionally has High Mowing Seeds for $1.00 off (regular $2.49). I've found most seeds still have a good germination rate for more than a year.

    You might also try the forums on I have never done a seed swap but it looks popular. I have participated in plant swaps arranged on the gardenweb and some people bring seeds. In advance of a swap people can post requests for certain things.

    Good luck.

    8 Replies
    1. re: dfrostnh

      Awesome, thanks! I was wondering where to find seed swaps - thanks for the heads up about

      1. re: hippiebiologist

        Yes, Gardenweb is a terrific site -- a font of information.

        Since you're getting such a late start I'd recommend going over there to the Vegetable forum, and make a post asking what veggies you can still grow this season. Tell them where you are located since, depending on that, and on your weather, not all seeds will be able to germinate well and not all vegetable crops will have time to produce.

        Also, if you are a new gardener personally I'd counsel you just to try growing some easy stuff first and not sweat over whether it's unusual or heirloom or whatever. A home-grown vegetable of a decent variety will be much tastier than anything store-bought! I also prefer heirloom varieties in general but sometimes a hybrid can be easier to grow, and, depending on the vegetable, may also taste as good.

        One final thing: I noted you said you have enough "light" rather than "sun." Are you planning to grow indoors? If so this completely changes the game for growing food, and then you'll want to post on Gardenweb in a forum devoted to growing indoors.

        Have fun!

      2. re: dfrostnh

        dfrostnh, I chose you to vent my particular gripe. I can never find ALL the seeds I want at one source - one package of seed here, one there, & maybe two some other place. Add shipping to all these babies & suddenly your "garden" is not penciling out.

        Has anyone tried purchasing seeds on ebay?

        By the way, how do you folks store the excess seeds? Jars, baggies, photo albums or what?

        1. re: cstout

          I've tried several eBay seed offers. Poor results on most.

          1. re: DonShirer

            Thanks for pointing that out. A while back I inquired about some seeds a person had for sale on eBay. S/he was very specific about how many seeds were in a teaspoon. One incidence was "three thousand" seeds in the package of poppy seeds. I asked how in the world did she know that specific amount. Sharp reply was that she "counted them", that's why. At that point I just backed off from buying any seeds on there.

          2. re: cstout

            cstout, my strategy is that a packet is probably more than I need of most seeds and most are good for a couple of years.Then I might not buy from that company for another year or two. I like Baker Creek's variety but I don't buy from them every year.

            I have the packets organized by variety in small wooden crates that clementines came in. I have a small shipping carton for the large packets of things like peas.

            Seed I save from the garden might be in paper envelopes or brown paper sandwich bags. I like the paper seed packets from Fedco and Johnny's that are re-sealable. I do have some small plastic bags available at craft stores that I sometimes use. This might not be the proper way to do things but I've been doing it this way for years. Our house is very dry in the winter.

            1. re: dfrostnh

              Buying seeds only once a year - your take on that certainly brings the cost of shipping into proportion, I never looked at it that way. As those magazines start coming in the mail though, all sanity & reason flies out the window. Yep, I have plenty seeds from last year, but "looky here" - gotta try that one. The old saying, "my tomatoes cost me 40 dollars a pound" originated in my garden

              Seed saving - I suppose for every seed out there someone has their own unique method of saving them. Heard the freezer was the best place to store them. I have some of those half gallon wide mouth jars & put the packages with a little paper clip on the top of the package & place them in the jars in the freezer. Must admit that having them in little wooden crates sure would look neat though. Displaying your seeds is half the fun. Thanks for a great post, now tell me how in the world you got your hands on one of those little clementine crates???

              1. re: cstout

                That's the way clementines are sold most of the time at our local NH supermarkets. They probably hold about 2 dozen or so... three seed packets wide.
                For some reason, the clementines that come in net bags aren't as sweet.

        2. For heirloom seeds, I regularly use Sandhill Preservation. Johnny's Seeds, and Totally Tomatoes have some good heirlooms, but also many hybrids. I often try new varieties from Pinetree seeds, since they often sell smaller quantities at a lower price. Baker Creek has an astonishing variety of squash and melon varieties.

          Experts I trust also recommend suppliers like Gleckler Seedsmen, Heirloom Tomatoes, Seed Saver's Exchange, Territorial Seeds and Victory Seeds for heirlooms.

          1 Reply
          1. I absolutely love The Sample Seed Shop. I found her via gardenweb plus a tomato forum. I ordered seeds - tomatoes and some hard-to-find herbs from her - and she gave me a free seed packet (of tomato seed) which I discovered is her standard procedure. She's personable - replied to me on facebook - and I had 100% germination rate with everything. (Wound up with 50 tomato plants when I had room for maybe 5 - gave away a ton of little plants!) I can't recommend her highly enough.

            3 Replies
            1. re: eepi

              Thanks eepi, the Sample Seed Shop looks like it has a great variety.

              1. re: dfrostnh

                I bought a bunch of seeds from Sample in 2010. Half were very good, and half were so-so. All of their Tomatoes are heirloom or open pollinated. Unfortunately the one tomato I got was in the so-so batch.

                1. re: DonShirer

                  As an example of service "above and beyond"...Sample Seeds saw the preceding post when browsing this thread and sent me unsolicited a more recent sample of the tomato seed I noted above, even though the so-so performance was more likely to have been due to my weather or soil conditions than their seed.
                  Thanks, Sample!

            2. My favorite online seed seller is:


              The majority of their stock is heirloom and OP seeds.
              They do have some hybrids, but no GMO. I grow varieties specific to the southern region of Italy.

              1. I really like Trade Winds Fruit. They have a huge variety of seeds, they're very cheap and send good quantities of seeds, and shipping is super fast despite being completely on the other side of the country from me. Everything I've gotten from them so far has germinated well and has grown true. Sometimes I just browse their catalog online for fun because they have so much interesting stuff.

                6 Replies
                1. re: StringerBell

                  Trade Winds Fruit - thanks for yet another neat place for me to spend some time...never heard of them. A good review like yours is worth a bunch.

                  1. re: cstout

                    Don't forget to check all the sections there. There is some neat/surpising stuff in the areas you might not think to look if you are confining yourself to the "obvios" heirloom vegetable ad herb areas (like seed for a species of raspberry that can take subtropical temperatures)

                    1. re: jumpingmonk

                      Tradewinds Fruit - well I have been on that site for hours! Yes, I am finally getting to the tropical & exotic fruits....what a great place to browse. Have you ever purchased any of the unusual things - how did they grow for you?

                      I am afraid to look at the total in my shopping cart - positive I will have to have to put some things back, but there will be another time.

                      If you folks want tomato variety, check this place out. Never saw so many tomatoes in one place before.

                      1. re: cstout

                        Quie a lot, though I admit that, as I am a terminal case of "man's reach exceeding man's grasp", the vast majority of those seeds are still sitting in drawers, waiting for an empty space (including a lot of exotics that Tade Winds carried once, but doesn't now, like Brazil Wood and Mexican Hand Flower). my last purchase (about 3 weeks ago) included both the Mysore Rasberry and that red Hawaiian blueberyy you'll find under the "V's" (no I am NOT going to attempt to type the Hawaiian Name) Which I am plannting to play around with over the winter (sow the seed indoors, and put the resultant plants in the ground in the spring). I'm also testing growing the nodding onions from seed (it's in the herb section)
                        Outdoors, a lot of the exotic stuff is going to be a no-go unless you live somewhere like Hawaii, South Florida or South California (expecially the tropicals that are trees) Indoors, some might work, but I'd need to do some thinking to work out which

                        1. re: jumpingmonk

                          Nodding onions, yes, I came across those & they are in my shopping cart. One time I heard about "walking onions", but that was many years ago & don't know if folks just coined that name.

                          Sounds like you might have a greenhouse. Do you sow your seeds in seed starting medium or what?

                          I would love to try something "exotic", but here in Texas, I need to stick to something very drought & heat tolerant. Big dream for me would be to have a large greenhouse with a small pond inside, banana & citrus trees, a couple of colorful birds flying around & Bose stereo playing some soothing classical music while I putter & sip on a luscious wine & watch the little seedlings grow.

                          Whoa, better get back on track here. Keep us posted on those seeds, I will pick a package out & try it. Thanks & sorry for the wandering everybody. Talking about seeds makes me crazy sometime.

                          1. re: cstout

                            No I havent had a proper greenhouse since I left coleldge. I mostly just use the radiators in the house plus a few stands outside for pots to sit on during the summer (at the moment I have ouside a rack of pots of tropical fruit tree seedlings. Mostly citrus (Yuzu and Mango Orange) and semi-citrus (wong pei) but there are 3-4 jambu trees I manged to get started from pits, a Kenaf (a hibiscus realtive used in parts of india for fiber) a pair of sun hemps (again hemp as in fiber, not hemp as in drug. that one is a legume, realted to the rattlebox plant you may have seen wild around you) and suchlike
                            Walking onions are another name for what is usally sold as Egyptian Topsetting onions. There called "walking" becuse between the fact the bulbs divide like crazy and the plant produces tons of big bulbils (mini bulbs) on top, you patch can readily spread out quite rapidly. If you want those, they really aren't all that hard to find.