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Chris Amirault

Best Online or Catalogue Heirloom Seed Companies

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I'm shopping for a gift certificate to an heirloom seed company for a friend. They are more sophisticated than I am at such things, but I believe they'd want the highest quality and widest selection. Assume nothing please -- I'm ignorant. What are my options?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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My husband has been happy with the seed he ordered from the Seeds of Change catalog.


"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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How about Heirloom Seeds

Also, John Scheepers (famous for imported Dutch flower bulbs) now has a seed company called Kitchengardenseeds.

I haven't ordered seeds from either of them, but I've been very happy with Scheepers' bulbs and customer service. I used to order from Scheepers at their old location on Wall Street before they moved to Ct. It's hard to imagine shopping on Wall St. for bulbs, but it was the hub of the maritime industry for many years and many importers had offices there. Fascinating history of the company here. Sorry to digress...


Ilene

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I purchase seeds from Bountiful Gardens.

Bountiful Gardens

Bountiful Gardens is John Jeavons' organization that sells untreated open-pollinated seed of heirloom quality for vegetables, herbs, flowers, grains, green manures, compost and carbon crops.

You may be interested to know that Bountiful Gardens is a non-profit organization and a project of Ecology Action which does garden research and publishes many books, information sheets, and research papers, some in other languages. Ecology Action operates a research mini-farm in Willits, CA and promotes the GROW BIOINTENSIVE method of food production which teaches people in 130 countries around the world to grow food and build soil with less work, water, and energy by natural methods.

I like thinking that the proceeds go toward helping others become more sustainable.

Patricia Edie


Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.

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If they are big on tomatoes and peppers, Tomato Growers Supply has always been reliable - the seeds fresh and the selection wonderful.

Best all around for heirloom seed (also roots, and poultry) would be Sandhill Preservation in my opinion. Fair warning, they aren't a "fast food" type of outfit - but they keep their stuff fresh and viable. They also have many items that just can't be found anywhere else.

Victory Heirloom Seeds is another company that I have dealt with personally, and they also have a few varieties that you just won't find anywhere else.

All three of these have excellent reputations in seed circles.

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I'm shopping for a gift certificate to an heirloom seed company for a friend. They are more sophisticated than I am at such things, but I believe they'd want the highest quality and widest selection. Assume nothing please -- I'm ignorant. What are my options?

Fedco is a great option. Entertaining catalog as well.

Fedco Seeds

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I think you folk ought to know about

http://www.seedsofitaly.com/

They are good. Very good indeed.

And, authentically, they close for much of August!

They seem to ship overseas. Seeds are lightweight (for airmail).

And their quantities are pretty generous.

Well worth a look.


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Sandhill Preservation Center : http://www.sandhillpreservation.com/

My favorite place, hands down.

A mom & pop operation of stupendous [truly] quality and worth by Glenn Drowns, the Cucurbits Curator of the Seed Savers Exchange. His Tomato & Sweet Potao collections are the best, bar none, and very true to type. A whole range of cucurbits, obviously, including a special watermelon bred by him. The prices are ridiculously low & postage paid for purchases above $10. He has conservation breeds of poultry as well.

I have been purchasing from him for at least 8 years now and have yet to be disappointed. That is something I cannot say for another company mentioned upthread that enjoys a big reputation and from whom I have also purchased through a buying club for a similar length of time. I shall not anymore!

Mind, Glenn Drowns does it all by hand and does not ship seeds between August and December 31 when he is harvesting etc. So people need to be quite patient and order early. I love to support people of this sort who do it as a labor of love.

He has a sterling reputation in the heirloom tomato fraternity and is one of the 2 places to which Dr. Carolyn Male entrusted many of her discoveries for multiplication and sales.

Roses Unlimited is another fantastic mailorder place where you get more than your money's worth. Roses Old & New on own roots. http://www.rosesunlimitedownroot.com/

Great sale on now!!


Edited by v. gautam (log)

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I think it's important to remember where the person lives. I've always loved Johnny's, but largely because many of the seeds they sell are proven at our Northern latitude.

Here in MN, we are still waiting for summer (in August, BTW), and I'm sure glad I didn't plant anything that has a 90-day mature time, and I don't care if you get it started indoors or not.

Look for some place that specializes in seeds that will really grow in the area of the recipient. I know that folks like Anne (in FL) can grow tomatoes that I could never dream of growing, other than watching them hopefully ripen while I'm raking the yard in October while wearing fleece.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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... Look for some place that specializes in seeds that will really grow in the area of the recipient.  ...

Aaah, yes, but ...
Italy is only partly a Mediterranean country - 3/5ths of it is Alpine too, with the Alps and Dolomites in the North and the Apennines running down the spine. The beautiful city of Torino hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics of course and it reached -30c in Friuli last year!! As a result, some of our varieties are much hardier and love our mild British climate, and some will grow unprotected outside all winter. But just treat our tomatoes (or any of the varieties) the same way you'd treat a similar domestic variety and they will prosper.
http://www.seedsofitaly.com/

Should have said earlier - do check the herb and lettuce listings!


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I use Real Seed from Wales. Terrific heirloom varieties, everything open-pollinated. However, they don't ship to the U.S., recommending Seed Savers Exchange. I've not used the latter company, but their products look quite interesting.

I also second the upthread recommendation for Victory Seed, out of Oregon. After my order was held up at Italian customs and ultimately returned, I ended up smuggling them in with me following a trip to the U.S. this June. Since these were planted late, nothing yet to report on results.

I ordered all my herbs from Richters Herbs in Canada. Those seeds, too, are sitting in Italian customs for the second time. I hope to have them cleared in time for the 2010 planting. :angry:

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I think you folk ought to know about

http://www.seedsofitaly.com/

They are good. Very good indeed.

And, authentically, they close for much of August!

They seem to ship overseas. Seeds are lightweight (for airmail).

And their quantities are pretty generous.

Well worth a look.

I have ordered from Seeds from Italy a number of times. It is owned by Bill McKay who is very responsive to any questions or emails...answers within minutes! They are actually based in Mass. and import their seed packets. Many are from Franchi which we have seen sold in Italy.


Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.

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It turns out that they DO have a US Distributor (indeed based in Winchester, MA ), Seeds FROM Italy (whereas the UK operation is Seeds OF Italy) operating a different website : http://www.growitalian.com/ albeit with a bit of confusion over whether its now 2007, 8 or 9 ...

Whatever, the Franchi seeds are excellent.

Welcome to Seeds from Italy.  We are the U.S. mail order distributor for Franchi Sementi spa of Bergamo, Italy, Italian seedsmen since 1783. Our Italian Vegetable seeds are traditional Italian varieties, chosen by discriminating Italian cooks over the years.  All come with our no nonsense unconditional guarantee-if you are not satisfied for any reason, will will give you a complete refund.

So - no need to worry about US Import admin !

ADDED - there are other operations in other territories (this from the UK 'Contact Us' page)

In the EC - www.seedsofitaly.com

In the USA - www.growitalian.com

In Australia - www.theitaliangardener.com.au

In Belgium - www.kitchengarden.be

In New Zealand - www.italianseedspronto.co.nz

In France - www.semenceitalie.com

InScandinavia - www.gourmetgarage.dk


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Try rareseeds.com. Their catalog is huge and its all heirloom. I've drooled over it all spring, big selection, great pictures and its an interesting story about the owner.


Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality. Clifton Fadiman

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Franchi Sementi of Italy, the suppliers of Seeds of Italy, produce supremely excellent seed, offered in very generous quantity in their standard packet that is about US$2.95 [unlike far too many US & UK companies that are extortionate, especially as they purchase their seed wholesale from a handful of the same overseas companies, and market them with pretentious hype].

Their tomato and chard varieties, in addition to the herbs etc. mentioned upthread, are fantastic, and I have grown them for nearly a decade.

Upper Canada Seeds,

http://www.uppercanadaseeds.ca/,

is a small company in Ontario with many unusual heirloom tomatoes NOT found in either the Sandhill or Victory catalogs. I have ordered from them and found their prices, service and products excellent. Particularly noteworthy was a French pink heirloom "Chateau Rose", adjudged the best tasting in 2008 among more than 20 heirlooms grown. Their prices are postpaid to the continental USA for 10 packets+.


Edited by v. gautam (log)

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Territorial Seeds out of OR has some heirloom seeds, and some organically grown seed or starts (potato starts, leeks, onions, etc.). Like Johnny's Selected Seeds, for Maine & similar climates, Territorial Seeds is raising & selecting for seeds for veg & fruit that do well in the Pacific NW so how closely your climate resembles that of the PNW needs to be considered when looking through the seed catalog.

Peace Seeds out of Corvallis, OR, and Abundant Life seeds (Saginaw, OR) offer some heirloom seeds, I think (or unusual varieties of a given herb or veg). A relative newcomer, just for herbs, is the Thyme Garden Herb Company near Alsea, OR. I've not grown any plants from their seeds yet, but have bought plants in 4" containers from them & they've always seemed to be in good shape & have done well. Thyme Garden has a broad variety of herbs as well as a good range of varieties w/in a given herb, i.e,. quite a few different kinds of lavenders, thymes, mints, as well as some relatively unusual herbs. I bought some Thyme Garden lovage seed this spring but never got around to planting any of the seeds this year.

All the seeds I've gotten from Seeds of Change (with the except of the Bread poppy seeds, but that may have been my fault) have had very good germination rates. I look very carefully at the seed information though, to be sure that what veg or flower I'm interested in is likely to do well in my climate. I think Seeds of Change grows & trials its seeds in a much drier & hotter climate than mine, so I don't assume the varieties are well suited to my area or that of a friend (also western OR but a somewhat different growing environment). However, S of C's heirloom Romano beans have been a great success, just as productive & tasty as described in the catalog.

A Seed savers exchange that includes people from wherever the garden is would probably have some seeds definitely worth trying.

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On annecros's recommendation I ordered all my seeds from Tomato Grower's Supply this year. Now that the seeds have germinated, I can go ahead and give TGS a thumbs up. They have a huge selection of heirloom varieties, the germination rate is good, and the customer service and shipping were excellent as well. If you haven't ordered your seeds yet for this season, I recommend giving them a shot.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I'll second (third?) the Tomato Growers Supply suggestion. I have always been happy with their seeds.

For seeds other than tomatoes and some peppers/chiles I use Fedco Seeds and their sister companies Moose Tubers and Organic Growers Supply a lot. They are based in Maine and while they do specialize in seeds that do well in the northeast, not exclusively so. They are a co-op and their prices are very good. They are also very heavily into organic, GMO-free, fair-trade and politically correct products if that is a factor in your ordering.


The Big Cheese

BlackMesaRanch.com

My Blog: "The Kitchen Chronicles"

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"The Flavor of the White Mountains"

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I order far more herb seeds than vegetable seeds because I now do very little vegetable gardening.

I have had excellent results with the seeds from OVM seeds,

http://www.ovm-seeds.com/storefrontprofiles/deluxeSFshop.aspx?Herb%20Seeds&sfid=136776&c=116864

For some varieties, ten seeds is enough, for other herbs, I may want more and the way they package and sell the various herbs is a boon for someone who has a very small garden or wants to grow many types of herb rather than a large patch of one kind.

This year's "crop."

herb seeds.JPG


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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