When it comes to farming (or homesteading or large-scale gardening or whatever your chosen designation), seed is king. Starting with the proper seeds and taking care of the proper seeds can mean the difference between a beautifully healthy crop, and a very pissed off, angry shopper in the produce department at Kroger. Believe me, I've been there.
Though we save our seeds, on average, for three years before we throw 'em out and start over, it helps that we trust the places we've ordered from. Here's the lowdown on the seed suppliers we've used in the past.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (www.rareseeds.com)
By far our most used source. This seed company has been around since 1998 and has one of the best selections of heirloom and unusual seeds from around the world. Shipments are timely, seeds are well-packaged and we typically have a high germination rate with just about everything we've ordered. Veggie failures we've had from Baker Creek seeds have been due to other outside forces (unusually cold or rainy seasons, critters).
Some of the best things we've grown from Baker Creek seeds include:
Totally Tomatoes (www.totallytomato.com/)
We've only ever ordered tomatoes (seed and plant) and peppers (seed) from this source, but they have a pretty nice selection of other veggies, herbs and fruit. Our germination rates varied, with heirloom tomato germination rates at about 75% on average compared to 95% for everything else.
Seed Savers Exchange (http://www.seedsavers.org/)
SSE's mission is to "save America's heirloom seeds." It's a great nonprofit organization that not only allows you to buy (and thus preserve) rare plants, but learn more about heirloom veggies, flowers and herbs than you could ever imagine. You can support SSE in a multitude of ways: by buying a few seeds, by becoming a member, or by simply making a donation.
Gurney's Seed & Nursery (www.gurneys.com/)
Gurney's seems to be a seed source that not many people in our little gardeners circle know much about. Maybe it's not that big of a secret to everyone else, but they really became a standout for us about 3 years ago. Gurney's runs neck and neck with Baker Creek for us in terms of customer service, germination rates, and quality of plants and sets when ordered.
Although we have used other, probably more popular seed suppliers such as Burpees, Johnny's Select Seeds, and Harris Seed we've had our own unique problems with many, found their selections lacking what we needed or just plain didn't agree with their business choices.
What are your favorite seed companies? Which ones do you love?
I'm the wife of a Fledgling Farmer(FF) and mom to Fledgling Farmer Boy(FFB) and Fledgling Farmer Girl(FFG).