Seed Starting Update 4/12/21

And, finally, a seed starting update. You didn’t think it was all live plants, did you?

(This one will be long. Luckily this blog layout goes to a cut on the main page after a few lines.)

Where did I leave off? Oh yes, March 27th. So, since then, this is what I’ve planted:

Seed starting, 3/30/21:

Tomato, Thornburn’s TerracottaBaker Creek
Tomato, White Tomesol Baker Creek
Tomato, Dad’s SunsetBaker Creek
Tomato, Barry’s Crazy CherryBaker Creek
Pepper, Biquinho Yellow (hot)Baker Creek
Sweet Pea, My NavyBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Little SweetheartBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Royal BlendBotanical Interests
Dahlia, Caf├ę au LaitSkyfall Flowers
Dahlia, Giant Hybrid MixJohnny’s Seeds

I bought a bunch of orange tomatoes to try, and received a free packet of white tomato seeds as well. Also, technically, the Dahlia was a tuber that I pre-sprouted, not a seed. ANd, another round of sweet peas. They are currently my bane.

Seed starting, 4/2/21:

Purple echinacea (stratified)Sustainable Sprout
Peppermint (stratified)Sustainable Sprout
Valerian (stratified)Tradewinds Fruits
Giant Columbine (stratified)MI Gardener
Lavender, Provence Blue (stratified)Sustainable Sprout
Calendula, Pacific Beauty Mix Baker Creek
Aster, Giant Perfection Mix Baker Creek
Bachelor’s Button, Blue BoyBotanical Interests
Calendula, Pink Surprise Baker Creek
ECHINACEA, Green TwisterSwallowtail Seeds
ECHINACEA, Primadonna Deep RoseSwallowtail Seeds
ECHINACEA, White SwanSwallowtail Seeds
Morning Glory, PurpleWild harvested
Zinnia, California GiantBotanical Interests
Zinnia, Queeny Lime OrangeBotanical Interests
Zinnia, SenoraR H Shumway’s
Pepper, Aurora (hot, decorative)Seed Savers Exchange
Leek, King RichardJohnny’s Seeds
Dianthus, Sweet WilliamPinetree Seeds

One day, I will get those Echinacea seeds to sprout! Perennials are the next frontier, apparently.

Seed starting, 4/3/21:

Sweet Pea, My NavyBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Royal BlendBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Little SweetheartBotanical Interests
SalanovasJohnny’s Seeds
Basil, Lettuce LeafBaker Creek
several nasturtiumsmisc
Sugar Snap peasJohnny’s Seeds
Bulgarian Giant LeeksBaker Creek

I had just gotten a new order of Sweet Peas in, as my last batch did not take. And it seemed prudent to get some more nasturtiums, leeks, and lettuces started.

Seed starting, 4/4/21:

Pusa CarrotsBaker Creek
Sugar Snax CarrotsJohnny’s Seeds
Dragon CarrotsBaker Creek
Breakfast RadishesBotanical Interests
Yellow TurnipsBaker Creek
Mulberry TreeBaker Creek

Working on getting some carrots planted, and filling the Greenstalk.

Seed starting, 4/5-4/6/21:

Dahlia, Dwarf CactusRH Shumway
Sugar Snap PeasJohnny’s
German ChamomileBotanical interests
Pink HollyhocksBaker Creek
Giant DahliaJohnny’s
Cylindra BeetsJohnny’s
Botlhardy BeetsPinetree Seeds
Ruby Swiss ChardBotanical interests
Lollipop Mix GaillardiaBaker Creek
Hollyhock, NigraTrade Wind Fruit
Pansy, Got the Blues Botanical Interests
Poppy, Amazing GreyBotanical Interests
Poppy, Spring Melody Blend California Botanical Interests
Poppy, Falling In Love Baker Creek
Poppy, Hungarian Blue Breadseed Baker Creek
Rudbeckia, Autumn ColorsPinetree Seeds
Snapdragon, Madame Butterfly MixJohnny’s Seeds
Viola, King Henry Botanical Interests
Dianthus, Sweet WilliamPinetree Seeds
Delphinium, Magic Fountains Sky Blue/WhiteSwallowtail Seeds

Here I was, attempting to get more cold-hardy plants started from seed outdoors. As of yet, none of the flowers have sprouted, so back inside to the heat mat they go.

Seed starting, 4/8/21:

White MalvaPinetree Seeds
African DaisyBaker Creek
Bachelor’s Button, Classic Romantic Botanical Interests
Bergamont, WildBotanical Interests

A small batch of seeds started–Botanical Interests is having a free-shipping deal during all of April, and I couldn’t resist.

Also on 4/8/21, I starting trying my hand at taking cuttings from the bushes in our yard: purple lilac, honeysuckle, and our large quickfire hydrangea. Still waiting to see how these turn out. So far, the honeysuckle cuttings look good while the rest seem just eh.

“Seed” starting, 4/11/21:

A big chunk of my dahlias arrived yesterday, and I spent a few hours pruning and splitting them. I also potted up ‘Melody Pink’ and ‘Great Silence’ in the hopes that I can start taking cuttings off of them. Nothing like a plant that is easy to propagate ­čÖé Makes me feel a little bit better about how much they all cost.

Seed starting today, 4/12/21:

Sweet Pea, My NavyBotanical Interests
Sweet pea, Royal BlendBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Bouquet Blend Botanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Knee-Hi Blend Botanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Perfume Delight Botanical Interests

One last attempt at growing sweet peas, again thanks to Botanical Interests.

From now on, I’ll likely just be focusing on live plants and potting up my current seedlings. And the, you know, actual gardening, since I should finally be able to get out and start working in the beds next week.

Seed Sowing, Week of 3/22/21

Another week, another batch of seeds started.

My Swallowtail Seeds order arrived, finally–over 30 days after I ordered it, true, but the website did warn of 5 week delays. So I was finally able to get my Echinaceas planted. My Pinetree Garden Seeds order also arrived, slightly quicker than the Swallowtail Seeds order, and another small order I put in at Johnny’s arrived, all in the same week. So it was a pretty busy week of sowing.

My “Moon Garden” plants are, for the most part, started. I’ll be using the Fleurel dahlia as my centerpiece, with the White Swan echinacea, Snow White malva, Abyssinian Gladiolus (Acidanthera Murielae), and white African daisy in graduated rows leading up to it, and any ranunculus and gladiolus bulbs form my mixes that end up being white, all framed by a moonflower vine. I’ve also got night-blooming jasmine on order, but that’s not set to arrive until late May, so I need to remember to leave some space in the Moon Garden for it as well. All in all, not a bad start for an all- white garden.

Sowing 3/20/21:

Madame Butterfly MixJohnny’s Seeds
Dahlia, Unwins Mix Baker Creek
Dahlia, Redskin Mix Pinetree Seeds
Calendula, Pink Surprise Baker Creek
Calendula, Zeolights Botanical Interests
Lupine, genericJoseph

Sowing 3/24/21:

Amazing Gray PoppyBotanical Interests
Black NasturtiumRH Shumway’s
Peach Melba NasturtiumBotanical Interests
Malva, Snow WhitePinetree Seeds
Rainbow Loveliness Cottage PinksBotanical Interests
Hollyhock, Indian SpringBaker Creek

Sowing 3/26/21:

Dahlia, FleurelDutch Bulbs
ECHINACEA, GREEN TWISTERSwallowtail Seeds
ECHINACEA, WHITE SWANSwallowtail Seeds
SALVIA, ROSE QUEENSwallowtail Seeds
SCABIOSA, FAMA DEEP BLUESwallowtail Seeds
MoonflowerSeed Savers Exchange
Madame Butterfly Bronze w/ WhiteJohnny’s Seeds

Sowing 3/27/21:

Basil, Lettuce LeafBaker Creek
Chamomile, GermanBotanical Interests
Cosmos, Sea ShellsBaker Creek
Swiss Chard, Ruby Red/RhubarbBotanical Interests
Beet, CylindraJohnny’s Seeds
Beet, BolthardyPinetree Garden Seeds
Salanova┬« Green Sweet CrispJohnny’s Seeds
Salanova┬« Home Garden MixJohnny’s Seeds
Delphinium, Sky Blue/WhiteSwallowtail Seeds
Hollyhock, NigraTrade Wind Fruit
Genovese BasilBotanical Interests

The reason I start so many seeds is because 1) seeds are cheap, and I’ve already paid for them; and 2) I like to have variety. I’m not sure if I’ll end up planting all of these seedlings in my garden, but I want to have the option to do so. And despite overspending on seeds this year, it’s still cheaper than buying these plants already started from my local garden center (assuming my local garden center even carried all of these varieties, which is unlikely). But, mostly I just need something gardening-related to do right now while I’m housebound and healing.

So far, everything from the 3/20/21 sowing has germinated, and the Amazing Gray poppy from 3/24 has also germinated (poppies seem to germinate very quickly). I reordered the Madame Butterfly Bronze with White because it turns out that I hadn’t ordered the correct variety earlier–I had ordered a Madame Butterfly mix instead. So I will have a ton of snapdragon seedlings to choose from in about two months.

A note on dahlia bulbs: not all dahlia sellers are equal, apparently. The Fleurel bulb I ordered from DutchBulbs.com (again, very early into my dahlia purchasing) was way overpriced, and the bulb I received was clearly dehydrated, with the outer skin peeling off of most of the bulb. I planted it up in a pot anyway, but as of yet, it doesn’t show any signs of life. To be on the safe side, I ordered another Fleurel from Longfield Gardens, which was cheaper and actually includes three bulbs per order rather than just the one Dutchbulbs.com offers. (Also, the customer service at Longfield Gardens is amazing! Quick to respond and very flexible in rearranging my orders.) Once I get all of the bulbs I ordered and have them planted, I’ll write up a comparison of the five companies from whom I ordered dahlia bulbs.

Seedling Update 3/20/21

Well, another weekend, another round of planting. Plus it looks like I didn’t put last week’s big planting up. So, a lot to cover today.

Planting 3/13/21 (2 each variety of Bootstrap Farmer’s 2″ pots/trays; Pro Mix w/ Mycorrhizae instead of the Black Gold seedling mix):

Pepper, Alma Paprika (hot)Seed Savers Exchange
Pepper, Aurora (hot, decorative)Seed Savers Exchange
Tomatillo, Grande Rio Verde Botanical Interests
Tomatillo, PurpleBaker Creek
Tomato, Barry’s Crazy CherryBaker Creek
Tomato, CarbonBaker Creek
Tomato, Paul RobesonBaker Creek
Tomato, Sun Gold Pole Cherry Botanical Interests
Tomato, Sun Gold Pole Cherry Hirt’s Gardens
MoonflowerSeed Savers Exchange
Nasturitum, Tip Top AlaskanBaker Creek
Sunflower, ValentineSeed Savers Exchange
Eggplant, Listada de GandiaBotanical Interests
Snap Pea, Magnolia BlossomBaker Creek
Daisy, AfricanBaker Creek

So far, all of these have germinated at this point, though the peppers from Seed Savers have only one seedling each, and they only finally poked out their heads yesterday. Oddly, my both of my sets of Moonflower seedlings geminated on the same day, despite being sown two days apart. (I didn’t soak the first set of seeds, and nicked the second set.) And the tomatillo seedling are long and skinny, moreso than most of the rest of the seedlings. Maybe that’s just they way they look? (They look like really sickly tomato seedlings.) And–miracle of miracles!–all of my nasturtium varieties have now germinated, including the Peach Melba which got recycled into my snap pea potting soil. My Sweet Peas are all at least 6″ tall and my snap peas are not far behind. Currently, the peas are sitting on on the deck, getting acclimated.

Today’s sowing 3/20/21 included just one plant: the Madame Butterfly Bronze snapdragons I ordered from Johnny’s, as I just received them yesterday. Such tiny seeds for such a large plant! These are my absolute favorite of all of the snapdragons I’ve seen displayed on videos and seed catalogues: tall, frilly blooms of coppery-peach edged with white.

Finally, the leeks and onions are still not planted. My friend ended up rescheduling to this weekend, which is probably for the best, because we ended up having 3″ of snow! But they are happily sitting in my cool, dark back hall and should be fine.

Hopefully, by April I should be more mobile and able to perambulate my backyard and get a better idea of where I am going to plant all of the things I’ve ordered over the last two months. It’s getting pretty crowded, as I also picked up another dahlia and a 25-mixed bag of caladium bulbs to replace my mom’s tired old hostas around the deck. And a 25-pack of strawberries….

Seedling Update 3/13

I started planting my first seeds two weeks ago, and have been planting more batches every few days as the seed packs indicate. So far it’s going pretty well; about 90% of seeds have germinated and are up and going. I can say this with confidence as I have all of my seeds and this year’s sowings organized in Excel spreadsheets and know exactly how many seeds were planted and when. (I literally had nothing to while the earth was covered in 2′ of snow and waited for my knee to heal this past month.) So I’m possibly better organized with my garden than I’ve ever been with anything, but I know I’ll be grateful for it all when it comes time to plant next year.

Here’s what I’ve planted so far:

Medium: Black Gold seedling mix. All seedlings are planted in 6-pack deep trays or Bootstrap Farmer’s 2″ seed pots. All trays are in 10×20 trays on heating pads with large humidity domes.

2/28/21:

Autumn Colors RudbeckiaPinetree Seeds
Dwarf Cactus DahliaRH Shumway
Redskin Mix DahliaPinetree Seeds
Lobelia (Crystal Palace)Botanical Interests
Sugar Stars PhloxBaker Creek
Rainbow LovelinessBotanical Interests
Pink CarnationsMI Gardener
Arena Red Lisianthus Hirt’s Seeds
Listada de Gandia EggplantBotanical Interests
Lettuce Leaf BasilBaker Creek
Holy BasilTradewinds Fruit
PennyroyalHirt’s Seeds

Of this batch, the Sugar Stars Phlox and the the Lisianthus did not germinate at all. I recycled the phlox and will prob attempt to resow them at some point later this spring. I’m still waiting on the Lisanthus as I know they take forever to germinate.

(Note: when I say I “recycled” a given variety, I’m just recycling the soil, not the actual seed. Yes, I know sometimes the seeds will pop up later on in random places; it’s all good.)

3/1/21:

Peach Melba NasturtiumBotanical Interests
Single Blend Trailing NasturtiumBotanical Interests
Lollipop Mix GaillardiaBaker Creek
Bull’s Blood BeetPinetree Seeds

Of this batch, one lone Trailing Nasturtium germinated and absolutely no other nasturtiums did. I loved growing (and eating) my nasturtiums last year, but I used an Alaska Mix from Ferry Morse (of all companies) and I had to restock. I had no problems with that seed mix, though I noticed that nasturtiums take forever to grow,\ so I knew I needed to start them early. Really sad that these did not germinate. I have the lone trailing nasturtium sitting in my kitchen windowsill and recycled the soil of the rest. The Gaillardia germinated well but I am finding that, once germinated, they are growing really slowly. Or perhaps I’m just impatient. (I ended up eating the beet seedlings; technically they were from a microgreens mix anyway. I’ll plant more outside later.)

3/4/21:

Sugar Snap PeaJohnny’s Seeds
Salanova┬« Green Sweet CrispJohnny’s Seeds
Salanova┬« Home Garden MixJohnny’s Seeds
Wildfire Mix LettuceJohnny’s Seeds
Fenugreek (plant)Johnny’s Seeds

So, I broke down one night after watching way too many “You Can’t Eat The Grass” videos about how much they looooved Johnny’s Salanova lettuces and bought some to try out. (It was slow going as most of the time I tried to buy something from their website, they were closed to home gardeners as they were just trying to get caught up with actual farmer’s orders.) If you’ve never bought from Johnny’s, prepare to deal with some serious sticker shock. Each pack of the Salanova lettuces was around $6 for 25 seeds (which for lettuce seed is outrageous!) However, the Salanovas, at least, are highly researched and trademarked, and apparently last 3x as long in the fridge, taste better than most lettuces, are highly prized by market farmers, etc. I was very careful with my Salanova seeds and only planted two of each kind–they had better have 100% germination at that cost. And so far, they have. The Wildfire mix was on sale; it germinated well but tasted bitter, so they got recycled. The Fenugreek also germinated well and grew extremely quickly as a microgreen, but I also found their taste to be bitter; I saved one so I could grow it as an herb and recycled the rest.

The Snap Peas are off and running and are already 6″ high. I had a ton of trouble with my peas last year–it was so disappointing, as I love snap peas and they are one of the few things I can grow that don’t trigger any of my food intolerances. But now I’m not sure what to do with snap peas that are actually growing the way they should. At the moment, I’ve pinched them off the way you would a Sweet Pea vine; maybe they’ll bush up the way a Sweet Pea does? Who knows? The tops were tasty, though. (If I’ve learned nothing at all from Charles Dowding, I’ve at least learned that you can grow snap peas just for their shoots.)

3/7/21:

Hyssop, Apache SunsetBotanical Interests
Pansy, Got the Blues Botanical Interests
Viola, Johnny-Jump-UpBotanical Interests
Viola, King Henry Botanical Interests
Pepper, Biquinho Yellow (hot)Baker Creek
Pepper, Fish (hot)Baker Creek
Pepper, Pasilla Bajio Chile Chilaca (hot)Botanical Interests
Leek, King RichardBotanical Interests

The pansies, violas, and hyssop have all germinated well and look good. Even my leek seeds have sprouted (I’m trying to get some succession sowing–I have leek starts, and now this batch from seeds.) Also, surprisingly, the Pasilla Bajio pepper popped up already. My (limited) experience with hot peppers is that they take forever to germinate. When I grew Sugar Rush Peach peppers last year, I had healthy seedlings pop up in recycled soil a good two months after I had originally sown them, though my first Sugar Rush peppers only took three weeks or so to germinate, I think. So I’m not worried about the other hot peppers, but I’m a tad worried about the Pasilla Bajio as it’s not going to be warm enough to plant them outside here until at least mid-May. But who knows? Gardening is always a guessing game, imho. I’ve never grown any of these from seed before.

3/8/21:

Sweet Pea, Little SweetheartBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, My NavyBotanical Interests
Sweet Pea, Royal BlendBotanical Interests

Note: Sweet Peas (the flowering vine) are grown for their flowers only, as all parts of that plant are toxic if ingested. Just FYI.

So, inspired in part by “The Impatient Gardener” videos, and a bunch of other market flower grower videos, I’ve decided to try my hand at growing Sweet Peas. They look very curly and pretty, and apparently many of them smell heavenly. So why not? I gave the seeds an overnight soak, and so far the “Royal Blend” seeds have all sprouted, with the “My Navy” seeds not far behind. (While it’ll be cool to finally grow any pea successfully, it’s just one more crop that needs a trellis, unfortunately. Sigh.)

3/11/21:

WormwoodSeed Savers Exchange
African DaisyBaker Creek
White MarigoldBaker Creek
MoonflowerSeed Savers Exchange
Black Velvet NasturtiumR H Shumway’s
Dwarf Jewel Mix NasturtiumBaker Creek
Tip Top Salmon NasturtiumBaker Creek

These seeds obviously haven’t had a chance to come up yet. I’ve sown a new batch of nasturtiums from different companies in the hopes that these varieties have better germination rates. I have enough seeds to keep resowing them all year if need be. Though I did forget to soak this batch, so that may not help things. Also, moonflower seeds, as I learned after the fact, also need to be soaked or nicked somehow before they are planted, so this batch of moonflowers may not come up at all. But then again, moonflowers are a morning glory, and morning glories want to grow, so who knows?

The wormwood is part of my ongoing plan to create a perennial witchy Victorian-style herb garden, with a wide variety of both culinary and “magical” herbs. Apparently wormwood, like morning glories, want to grow, and will get huge and take over the garden the way a mint or basil would if given a chance. (This seems to be the case with many herbs I’ve seen, actually.) So my herb garden may have to end up being a container garden, like for a Victorian’s solarium, rather than an in-ground English cottage hedge-witch type of garden. Ah, well.

This weekend’s plan is to get the rest of my peppers and all the rest of my nightshades planted. The tomatoes will probably go out to the garden sooner than the peppers; I’ve no idea how the tomatillos will grow, as I’ve never grown tomatillos. I have enough seeds in my collection to keep growing for at least five years, so either way, I’ll get something to grow.

Seed Companies and Catalogues

So I’ve bought seeds and live plants this year from a variety of sources. Last year, all of my seeds were from Baker Creek and Botanical Interests (and still I recommend both companies), but this year I’ve found several more companies worth buying from. Let me tell you about them!

Note that, due to Covid, every seed company that I’ve ordered from this year is behind on processing their orders. Some, like Baker Creek and Johnny’s Seeds, actually continue to shut down their website occasionally so no orders can be taken. (Johnny’s stops taking home gardener orders temporarily, and Baker Creek literally takes their entire website offline for a few days at a time.) Others are just taking up to 6 weeks to send out your order. All youtube garden channels I watch are explicitly telling gardeners to buy their seeds now due to the shortages. (Honestly, I didn’t need much convincing.) Currently, I have all of my seeds except for an order I put in at Swallowtail seeds mid-Feb and one I just put in at Barker Creek. I also have reserved a number of flower bulbs, asparagus crowns, sweet potato slips, and apple trees which I purchased a while ago but won’t ship until later this spring.

Favorite Seed Companies

(Note: Most of these seed companies specialize in heirloom, organic seeds. And all of the seeds–indeed, any seed that the home gardener is going to have the opportunity to buy–are all non-GMO. Only commercial farmers have access to GMO seeds.)

I rank seed companies using several factors. Large variety is key, closely followed by the quality of the seed packet, seed prices, and the efficiency of the customer service. I’m still too new to gardening to have much experience with the germination rates of seeds from one company to another, but hopefully by the end of this season I’ll have some good data on that as well.

Baker Creek

Baker Creek is one of the larges heirloom, organic seed companies. They pride themselves on recovering forgotten flower and vegetable varieties from all parts of the world. They also focus on the stories behind the seeds. These stories tend to make up half of their Whole Seed Catalogue, which is, as far as I can tell, the largest seed catalogue in the business. The catalogue gives a lot of good information on each variety–though, in general, both their website, seed packets, and catalogue are missing some of the basic essentials of growing the specific seeds (date to maturation, height/length, some sowing info). Their seed packets are extremely colorful, though, most of them having full-color phots of the variety. Also, every seed order has free shipping, no matter the size, so the price you see is what you pay. They also include a free seed packet with each order. As I tend to buy my seeds in groups of 4-6 at a time, I have a ton of free seeds from them. Currently I have several free packets of Japanese Giant Mustard, Cosmos, and various lettuces which are unlikely to be used, honestly. Though Baker Creek is one of the companies that completely shut down several times this winter, I still recommend them due to sheer variety of plants and the lack of shipping costs. Also, tI’ve found their customer service to be responsive and helpful.

Botanical Interests

Botanical Interests is one of my favorite seed companies primarily due to their prices and their seed packets. Their prices usually range from $1.99-$2.49/pack (though shipping is not free). Their seed packets are absolutely beautiful and the back of the packets contain a ton of growing information for each variety:

I’d estimate that about Ôůô of my seed collection comes from Botanical Interests. Germination rates seem to be fine, as far as I can tell.The amount of seeds per packet does vary widely, so it’s always good to double check how many seeds you’re getting for the price. They have a pretty good selection of seeds, though not all of them are organic or heirloom. Their website is also very useful and has detailed information on sowing, growing, and harvesting each variety.

Two new favorites this year are Pinetree Seeds and Johnny’s Seeds. Pinetree Seeds has great prices on garden supplies–I bought my seed starting mix and some fleece covering for plants from them at very reasonable prices. They have a good variety of heirloom and hybrid seeds and good prices. Their seed packets have a decent amount of information, though not as much as BI’s do. They also sell spices, teas, and candle and lotion-making supplies. They are a small, family-owned business operating out of Maine.

Johnny’s Seeds, on the other hand, is a huge company that researches and produces many of their own seed hybrids. Some of the varieties are just upgraded version of old favorites, and some are completely new varieties. They also sell heirlooms. From what I can tell, this company is one of the main suppliers for Farmer’s Market growers in the US: they sell many of their seeds in bulk and their website focuses on providing the type of larger-scale growing information that farmers need. (They do sell to home gardeners, but their focus appears to be market gardeners.) I didn’t pay much attention to this company until recently, as I’m not a market gardener and their seeds are really pricey if you’re only buying them in small quantities. (For example, 25 seeds of any of their patented Salanova lettuces average $6/pack.) Still, people swear by the germination rate and quality of produce that their seeds deliver, so I decided to splurge and buy a couple of seed packs. I’ve struggled with growing peas last year, so I brought their Sugar Snap pea, which is supposed to be resistant to many pests/diseases. I also picked up a sampler pack of their Salanova Butter lettuces, as market growers on many of the youtube garden channels I follow swear by them, and they appear to be the highly valuable, really expensive types that are sold at Farmer’s markets and high-end produce markets. (I figure why buy it if I can grow it myself?) I’ve started both the peas and lettuces, so I should know in a month or so whether they are worth the money. Finally, their seed packs, though very utilitarian in style, include a good amount of growing information.

Other Seed Companies

The Farmer’s Almanac website has a good list of seed companies here. I’m glad to see that they’ve kept up with the times and are still providing useful gardening information in 2021. Other companies I’ve bought from this year:

R H Shumway An old-timey seed company that was originally started in my hometown. Small seed selection and the seed packs are just OK. (I only brought from them due to the hometown connection.)

Seed Savers Exchange A non-profit dedicated to preserving heirloom seeds. They have a pretty good selection and their seed packets are also pretty good. I bought my garlic heads from them this year (Chesnok Red).

Hirt’s Garden Their website shows a huge variety of seeds at relatively good prices. When I received my order, however, I fund that the amount of seeds per pack was less than most other seed companies (for example, 20 seeds instead of 50 or 100 seeds). They also–and this is a big red flag for me–package their seeds in really tiny clear plastic bags which contain very little in the way of information. It was a big let down, especially given the way they present themselves on their website. (RH Shumway’s is clearly a much smaller company, but at least their seed packets are decent.) Currently, I would not recommend this company to new gardeners.

MI Gardener I followed this guy’s YouTube channel for at least 6 months before I realized he also owned a seed store. His prices used to be the best in the business–$.99/pack, regardless of variety–but as of this winter he has updated his prices to $1.99/pack. Still pretty inexpensive for many varieties, but I’m a bit sad I missed the $.99 prices. I’ve purchased a few packets of flowers and veggies from him, as well as some garlic cloves (Duganski). He’s based in Michigan, so we have similar growing conditions. I enjoy his videos for the most part, though he can come off a bit pompous and condescending in some of them (from what I can tell, completely unintentionally).

Tradewinds Fruit This company focuses on rare heirloom seeds, and is one of the few seed companies I’ve found where you can buy seeds for, for example, Jojoba nut and Baobab trees. I bought Japanese Maple and am stratifying the seeds right now, on the off change that I can actually grow one from seed.

Swallowtail Seeds I don’t know much about this company other than that they have many varieties of Echinacea. They seem to have a wide selection of other flower varieties as well.

Sustainable Seed Company This is another one I don’t know much about. However, their “Bugout Seed Bag”–aimed at preppers and survivalists–though is absolutely amazing. It contains 34 varieties of heirloom seeds for about $36/bag. and includes a good-sized, illustrated booklet showing how to grow each variety. I bought one after I watched a youtube’s review of “prepper” seed bags, and I was really impressed. Also, unlike many “prepper” seed bags, this kit includes full-sized seed packs for each variety in a resealable mylar bag.

High Mowing Organic Seeds This company purports to only sell organic seeds. This is another company that I’ve only bought a few seeds from. The cucumber variety I bought from them last year didn’t work out so well, but this is one of the only purveyors of the “Silver Slicer” cucumber than many youtube gardeners have raved about, so I bought a few more seed packs from them this year. We’ll see how they do.

I’ve also bought from larger seed companies like Ferry-Morse and Burpee, but my goal is to buy primarily heirloom organic seeds from smaller, independent seed companies.

My Seedling Set-up (upstairs)

This years seedlings are sprouting! Here’s my greenhouse set up in our living room. (I also have a greenhouse area in the basement, but, due to recent knee surgery, I can’t get down there enough to baby new plants.)

Currently, my Dahlia seeds are up and going, as are a several others: