Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Seed Orders - 2015


I have a little word file tucked away on my computer where I quickly jot down varieties that pique my interest, often as a result of other bloggers posts or comments.  Well…that file is now 14 pages long.

I would love to grow every single variety – wouldn’t we all? - but the limits of time and space mean that I have to pick and choose.  For me, this is often the most difficult part of the planning process.  The good news is that since growing vegetables is generally a one year (or less) commitment, I can eventually try everything on my list….in theory anyhow.  In practice, for every one variety I try, I probably end up adding at least one or two more to the list.

In my last post, I outlined the process that I went through before purchasing seeds.  Once I decide what seed varieties I want to purchase, I first look to my 3 favourite seed companies:  William Dam, Pinetree, and Baker Creek.

All of these companies sell a wide variety of seeds at good prices and, equally important to me, they have all signed the Safe Seed Pledge.

Since William Dam is within a reasonable driving distance, I usually go there to pick up my seeds & I also get many of my supplies from them such as seed starting mix, fish emulsion, cell packs, etc..  When I went there in January, they didn't have a couple of the varieties that I wanted in stock yet, so I am already planning a second visit within the next couple of weeks.

William Dam Seed Order
 

What I love about Pinetree is that they sell small packets of seed for an equally small price.  Most “regular” seed packets contain many more seeds than I could ever use, even in the 3-4 year life span that most seeds have.  For the same price, I can purchase 2 or 3 different varieties from Pinetree and the packets still contain more seeds than I generally need.

Pinetree Seed Order
 

Baker Creek is all about heirlooms - they have many unusual heirloom varieties that you can’t find elsewhere.

Baker Creek Seed Order
 
Pinetree and Baker Creek seeds have to be shipped, of course, but their shipping charges to Canada are very reasonable.

Unfortunately, I usually find that some of the varieties I want are not available at any of these sources, so I have to expand my search to other seed companies.  In order to keep costs down, I like to purchase seeds from as few companies as possible.  The cost of the seeds themselves often isn’t all that much (although it can really add up, especially if you are into ordering many different varieties like I am!), but some companies charge an excessive amount for shipping.  Territorial Seeds, for example, charge $7.95 for standard shipping PLUS an extra $10 to ship to Canada….I can’t think of any seed variety that would get me to pay $18 for shipping.

So my plan is usually to order what I can from my three go-to companies and then choose only one “extra” source each year.  Unfortunately, this generally means that I won’t be able to get every variety that I want.  Varieties that I can’t get go back on the list for future purchasing & I then substitute other varieties that are being offered at the chosen seed houses.

This year I decided that the extra source would be Renee’s Garden.  I REALLY wanted to get Romanesco squash and Michelle commented on a prior post that the variety sold at Renee’s was different from many others, being an F1 hybrid (and this was the likely reason for its hyper-productivity in her garden!).  I looked around their site and found several other varieties of veg that I wanted to try in order to get the most from my $7.95 shipping charge.  All of the seeds I purchased should last for several years, so even if I enjoy these varieties, I won’t have to reorder from Renee’s for quite some time (leaving the door open to try varieties from other companies).

Renee's Garden Seed Order
 
In addition to seeds, I also ordered seed potatoes this year.  For these, I had to go to a specialty seed company - Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes in Alberta.  I ordered "foursums" of 4 different varieties, meaning I will get four potatoes for each variety.  Hopefully I'll be able to cut each potato at least in half, but this all depends on how big they are and how many eyes they have.  As this is my first time purchasing/growing them, I have no idea what to expect.

And now, without further ado, here is my seed purchase list for 2015:
 

 



You may notice that there is one additional source listed that I haven’t mentioned yet – High Mowing Organic Seeds.

In the last few years, many companies who did not previously ship to Canada, are now doing so.  I also recently noticed that some shipping rates have changed for the better.  When I found a few varieties that I wanted to get at High Mowing, my original thought was that I would put these on hold for a future purchase as my “extra” company this year was already chosen.  But then I double checked their shipping charges – and would you believe they now have FREE shipping….to Canada.  No, it is not a misprint…I checked ;)  What it IS is a miracle, especially as most seed companies don’t even ship for free within the United States (or within Canada, for that matter), much less outside of it.

Moral of the story?  Don't assume.  It's always wise to check, just in case.  And this goes for the opposite as well, where costs may have gone up.  After spending hours scouring a company's offerings and building up your cart, you wouldn't want an unpleasant surprise come checkout.

High Mowing Seed Order
 
One of the great things about High Mowing, of course, is that all of their seeds are organic.  Edible Gardens -- Point Loma recently published a very interesting post on why you should purchase organic seed - most of the reasons listed were ones I had never even thought of before.  If the seeds I purchased from High Mowing perform well, I will likely be placing a much larger order with them next year.

So looks like I will now have four go-to sources – happy, happy, happy….I love shopping for seeds.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

20 comments:

  1. Ordering seeds is always a highlight of the winter for me! How nice that one of your favorite seed companies is within driving distance. I love Pinetree and Baker Creek seed companies - - they get the vast majority of my seed ordering business, for the reasons that you've outlined. One of our local organic CSA farms collects and sells seeds every year from their locally-adapted plants, so I buy from them a lot, but they definitely don't have the variety that Pinetree and Baker Creek have.

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    1. I had never thought of getting seeds from a CSA - that's such a great idea! I'll have to look into it to see if any of our local CSA's do the same thing.

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  2. I already have all my seeds (except some backorder ones form Fedco) but I decided I wanted to trial some squashes this year. They have a lot of C. moschata varieties to pick from which are the only kind that will reliably grow here because of the squash vine borer. So I think I'll order a couple to try. I wish I could try more, but the Waltham butternut is so reliable here that I don't want to replace too many.

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    1. That’s the one problem with trying new varieties – you have the tried and true & you don’t want to risk not getting as good of a harvest by replacing some of them with an untested variety. In most cases, I think it’s worth the gamble…experimentation & discovery is one of the reasons I love gardening so much. And I hear you on that darned vine borer – I’ll definitely be trying out more of the C. moschata varieties in the future.

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  3. I like the idea of very small packs of seeds. I sometimes buy from Seeds of Italy, and their distinctive feature is to provide packs with hundreds (sometimes thousands) of seeds in them. This is unnecessary for the domestic gardener, but could be useful for a gardening club or Allotment Society. When I find a vegetable variety that does well I often want to grow it again, rather than experiment with another one which may not be so good.

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    1. Being a seasoned gardener, you must have many favourite varieties that you turn to year after year. I completely agree with you on keeping those that work well in your garden and many of the varieties I’m growing this year are repeats from last year.

      Even at my early stage of experience, keeping some varieties that worked well in the past not only gives me some assurance of a harvest but also provides a good basis for comparison for any new varieties. And you never know when you may stumble on THE variety that totally blows your socks off!

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  4. It's so much fun to peruse other gardeners seed lists. I've found plenty of inspiration on my favorite garden blogs, it's a good thing that I don't keep a list though, I get into plenty of trouble all on my own. :) I hope that Romanesco zucchini does well for you.

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    1. Thanks Michelle – I’m really hoping that adding a couple of new varieties & changing up how I grow them by using the straw bales will make a difference. If I at least have some improvement over last year, I’ll be quite happy.

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  5. Free shipping to Canada - what a deal! My list of things I want to grow is always longer than I could ever find room for, so I know what you mean about having to pick and choose.

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    1. Yup - choosing is not easy...but that makes it no less fun!

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  6. So great that you are nearby William Dam - always where the bulk of my order goes. But like you, I try to get different varieties with other places. Shipping prices - ugh! Pinetree looks great (I've just bookmarked their website) - too late for me this year, but I love the idea of smaller packets for lower price; more opportunity to try different varieties. Great list of purchases this year ... wow, lots of "chinese greens"! :) I'd love to try Gailan some time.

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    1. I'm a big fan of Chinese greens (obviously!) and there are so many interesting varieties - some I've never even heard of before or seen at the market. Now that I think about it, I could probably say that about most veg I grow at home, which is another great reason for growing your own!

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  7. Lucky you to be able to drive to a store close enough to you to get your seeds. I think I would not look at my list if it was 14 pages long!! I don't have much patience! Nancy

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    1. Nothing beats going to a store that is just filled with row upon row of seeds - I usually find an excuse to go there several times each season.

      And my seed list sounds more daunting than it actually is - I have different headings for everything, so for example I have one heading for "Lettuce" & when I see an interesting variety, I jot it down under that heading in a bullet type list. Then when it comes time to choose some seeds, I just go to that section and pick whichever varieties strike my fancy at the time.

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  8. The greatest time of year. And also filled with anxiety--because there are SO MANY wonderful choices out there. I can't wait to see how you like High Mowing. I got their gorgeous catalog for the first time this year and was going to try a few things but cannot this year.......we are hoping to be GONE for a good portion of the summer so nothing but the very basics this year.
    I loved this post (as always!)---you are SO thorough. And wow--what a fine selection.
    Happy planting (in a few months)

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    1. Thanks Sue - I can't wait to crack into those seed packets, that's for sure!

      Sad to hear that you will not be planting as much this summer but GLAD to know that you will be relaxing & having a wonderful time when you go away. I haven't gone away in ages so I'm quite jealous of all you globe trotters!

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  9. This is quite a list! I bought seeds from baker creek and renee's garden and I think both are great. Never an issue with germination. Hope you like the amish paste tomato! It's been my standard paste tomato ever since I started gardening. Love the romanesco zucchini as well.

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    1. I'm really looking forward to growing both those varieties - since we are in relatively similar climates the fact that you have had good results with them is very encouraging!

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  10. While I haven't ordered from William Dam, I have to agree with you on Pinetree, Baker Creek and High Mowing as seed sources. I also like Johnny's and Fedco. Great choice of varieties you have made. I also bought Costata Romanesco from Renee's this year, but Michelle has said she is not growing it this year because it is too productive. You and I will just have to compare notes, I guess. I am looking forward to experiencing what a zucchini glut is like.

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    1. Well, I have to first say "Thank you!" as several of my choices this year were from your recommendations!

      Johnny's is definitely going to be chosen as the "extra" company at some point in the near future - there are several varieties on my list that only they offer. I have also looked at Fedco & was very excited that they finally offered shipping to Canada last year. However, their vague statement that shipping charges are calculated on a per order basis based on weight, handling, etc., kind of scares me off. I may give it a go at some point or call them to get a rough idea as to what those charges may be - you never know, I may end up being pleasantly surprised.

      As for the zucchini glut - I've got my fingers crossed that this will be OUR year!

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