One of the #1 questions I field on a regular basis is:
"Where do you buy your seeds?"
The Short Answer? EVERYWHERE.
Seriously, it seems like every store I enter, I'm drawn like a moth to a flame to the seed section. Do you know how many stores carry seeds in the spring?!? It's crazy. My family sometimes has to physically drag me away from those enticing displays.
I can't help it!!! I buy seeds where ever I go - dollar store, grocery store, hardware store, Target... they are everywhere!
The Long Answer? EVERYWHERE. ;)
Ok, fine, so I'll try to narrow it down... a bit.
Here are few suggestions I usually make before I give Seed Source advice:
1. Seek out seed companies that are located in a similar growing environment to yours. This not completely necessary, but it makes sense that if a plant variety does well in their trial gardens, it will probably thrive in YOUR garden.
So if you live in the Pacific NorthWest, choose companies in the PNW. If you live in the NorthEast Coast, go for seed companies in the NEC. If you live in the deep South, go with companies in the deep south. You get it.
2. Are you interested in saving your own seeds to use next year? Then you will want to seek out companies that specialize in "Heirloom" or "Open Pollinated (OP)" varieties. These seeds will save "true to type".
You should NOT try saving seeds from Hybrid varieties. You will know it's a Hybrid if you see the term "F1" on the seed description. Hybrid is not a "bad" trait - it simply means it's a specifically pollinated cross of 2 different plant varieties and the seeds saved from the resulting fruit/veggie/flower will NOT be "true to type".
I like to save my own seeds, so I avoid Hybrid varieties when possible.
3. Are you going to grow your garden with only Organic methods? If so, you may want to lean toward purchasing certified Organic seed. Most Organic plant varieties are bred specifically to thrive without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides. But don't feel like you have to limit yourself to only certified Organic seeds.
Given the choice, I will purchase Organic, but I'm not a stickler for ONLY Organic.
Make sense? Ok, good.
I'll give you the rundown on some of my favorite seed/plant sources and maybe it will help you decide where to start.
My Favorite Seed and Gardening Sources
Your Local Garden Center
In our neck of the woods (near Grand Rapids, MI), my favorite place to shop for seeds is Fruitbasket Flowerland (I hit up the location on 28th St., near US 131). They have a HUGE selection of flower and vegetable seeds, seed potatoes, onion sets, tubers, bulbs, etc. As a bonus, they have a highly knowledgeable and helpful staff. Maybe it's because I have good memories of shopping there with my Grandma when I was a toddler, but I just love that place and I look forward to my annual spring shopping trip.
High Mowing Organic Seeds
Located in Vermont, this seed company has been my trusted go-to source for almost the past decade and is my #1 recommended source for vegetable seeds.
Great selection, appropriate for home gardens, homesteads and farms.
They offer a good mix of Open Pollinated and Hybrid seed varieties.
Ordering online is super easy.
Free shipping on orders over $10!
100% Certified Organic
Non-GMO Project Verified
Johnny's Selected Seeds
This Maine based company has been killin' it since the 70's. Johnny's not only offers great seeds, but also their website is chock full of valuable growing information. This is where I order the majority of my flower seeds, since they offer flowers varieties that are suitable as cut flowers (only some flowers are good for cutting/bouquets!).
Wide vegetable selection makes them the trusted source for many small farms, but also appropriate for the home gardener.
Offer Hybrid, Open Pollinated and Organic choices.
Fantastic selection of Herbs and Cut Flowers.
Well known for their high quality growing supplies, such as seed trays, heat mats, plastic mulch, etc.
Free shipping on orders over $200
Territorial Seed Company
Located in Oregon, this company offers a selection similar to Johnny's Select Seeds. I often find a few unique varieties that are not available anywhere else, like their "Yum Yum Gold" mini sweet bell peppers, which are AH-MAZING and some super fun tomato varieties.
Excellent selection of Hybrid, Open Pollinated and Organic seeds.
Lots of unique cut flowers, peppers and tomatoes.
Easy on-line ordering
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Ah, Baker Creek... their seed catalog is the stuff of dreams. *Swoon!* If you are looking for fun, unique or rare varieties, look no further. Jere and Emilee Gettle, the founders of the company, and their employees quite literally scour the globe as seed explorers, searching for new (or perhaps we should say ancient!), endangered and rare seed varieties. You must check them out! They are located in Missouri, but also have stores in Connecticut and California.
You get a free pack of seeds with every order. It's a fun surprise!
GMO free seeds
Supporter of heritage and heirloom seeds
All seeds are Open Pollinated (so you can become a seed saver, or course!)
Rare, exotic seeds that you won't find anywhere else, along with some familiar faces
Seed Savers Exchange
If you are really geeked out about seed saving, consider a membership to the Seed Savers Exchange, one of the nations largest "seed banks". Their mission is to preserve our diverse agricultural heritage. They are located in Iowa.
All seeds are Open Pollinated (obviously!)
Many certified Organic options
Offer "Certified Heirloom Varieties", which means they have been saved and shared by home gardeners for generations.
Great selection of Heirloom tomatoes and peppers!
Offer "Garden in Box" gift sets. What a great Mother's Day gift idea!
Grow Organic/Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply
Located in California, Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply is a homesteader's dream come true. They offer everything from seeds to gardening tools/equipment to cheese-making supplies to composters to dehydrators to beekeeping supplies! I could go on and on. Be sure to sign up for the email subscription service, as they regularly offer flash sales and discounts to their subscribers.
100% GMO free seeds
Certified Organic seeds
HUGE selection of farming, gardening and homesteading supplies. Watch out! You're going to put EVERYTHING on your wish list!!! Ha!
Good source for Organic garden fertilizer and compost
Ok, I must confess one of the reasons I love this company is because of their great artwork/illustrations. Everything about their seed pack and products are beautiful and sure to make you feel joyful and inspired! If you live in the Grand Rapids area, be sure to visit Fruitbasket Flowerland, since they carry this brand in the store. Otherwise, their online ordering is simple.
Non- GMO seed
Great selection of Heirloom and Organic vegetable choices (and the occasional hybrid, but most are OP).
Varieties are selected for home garden use.
Large selection of flowers, many that make good cut flowers
Old House Gardens
This small company is located in my home state of Michigan (Ann Arbor). They specialize in rare, endangered and Heirloom Bulbs/Tubers. Their customer service is top-notch and their catalog/website is so fun to explore. A great source for hard to find:
Dahlias and more...
Floret is located in Washington state, and they offer an incredible selection of seeds and tubers specifically for cut flower use.
What are your favorite sources for seeds and supplies? I would LOVE to hear about them.
Have fun searching for seeds and dreaming about spring!