What Are Your Favorite Seed Companies And Why?

| 2/9/2011 8:59:12 AM

Tags: seeds,

If you don't already have a favorite seed company, be sure to check out Best Garden Seed Companies for a state-by-state roundup of some of our favorites. If you do have favorites, we want to hear about them. Who do you love and why? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.

We'll send a free gift of an Heirloom Vegetable Gardening CD-ROM to the readers who post the 5 most interesting entries!

bob knack
11/21/2011 4:33:34 AM

I have used the big companies with great success but last year decided to give a new company a try. Clear Creek Seeds. Couldn't have been happier!! Prices were lower and packages contained more seeds. No problems with germination rates either. Only ships USA but that works for me.

lynne aldridge
2/18/2011 7:56:52 AM

Very few US companies ship seed to Europe. Baker Creek does, and has an excellent range. These days, I rarely buy for the "big" UK seed companies - poor selection of open pollinated seed being the main problem, but I find that the germination rates of their seeds is poorer than comparable stock from smaller companies. Most of the companies I use on a regular basis sell primarily open pollinated, if not heirloom varieties. Companies I use on a regular basis include Thomas Etty, Pennard Plants (Growing Old), Real Seeds and Seeds of Italy. I swear by Rugosa di Friuli Zucchini from Seeds of Italy. Not your run of the mill variety - yellow, lumpy and curved, but unbeatable texture and flavour. Also look out for Purlple Podded Peas - can be eaten as mange tout, shelled or dried peas, so excellent where growing space is limited.

lynne aldridge
2/18/2011 7:44:41 AM

Very few US companies ship seed to Europe. Baker Creek does, and has an excellent range. These days, I rarely buy for the "big" UK seed companies - poor selection of open pollinated seed being the main problem, but I find that the germination rates of their seeds is poorer than comparable stock from smaller companies. Most of the companies I use on a regular basis sell primarily open pollinated, if not heirloom varieties. Companies I use on a regular basis include Thomas Etty, Pennard Plants (Growing Old), Real Seeds and Seeds of Italy. I swear by Rugosa di Friuli Zucchini from Seeds of Italy. Not your run of the mill variety - yellow, lumpy and curved, but unbeatable texture and flavour. Also look out for Purlple Podded Peas - can be eaten as mange tout, shelled or dried peas, so excellent where growing space is limited.

jenny fritz
2/17/2011 7:43:59 AM

I have been trying to shop locally so i was extremely excited to fined a locally owned seed company in Texas. I have been using Willhite Seed Company out of Poolville Texas. All of their seeds are excellent choices for Texas extreme weather. We have terrible rocky soil in our area and I am always able to make their seeds grow with wonderful results. They also have great rerources on their website for researching different plants. They ship your order immediately which is great for someone like me who tends to wait until it's almost too late! Visit their web-site and see for yourself at www.willhiteseed.com

2/16/2011 2:11:50 PM

My favorite is Le Jardin du Gourmet at artisticgardens.com. All their seeds come in a regular pack for $1 and a small sample pack for only 35c! I like to try different varieties and this lets me do it without breaking the bank. When I ordered from them I sent them too much money and they enclosed a cash refund with the seeds. How nice is that? I love to support honest people.

tm fox
2/16/2011 1:55:29 AM

One of my favorite seed providers is Territorial Seed Company. They send out their compostable catalog a few times a year with selections for seasonal planting. You can also view online, if you don't want to have the publications delivered. The pictures in the catalog/online are what you can expect your harvest to look like (always nice, rather than wonder if you received the wrong seed). Each section (ie: tomatoes, garlic, carrots, greens) of their publication is informative about about cultivating, potential issues, harvesting, etc. about that group. Territorial is based out of Oregon, so I find their seeds very reliable and hardy for my area (Pacific NW). The selection at Territorial is phenomenal and they are always offering new (or rather different) varieties with an extensive heirloom selection. They also offer discount pricing on larger packages, which is great for succession planting or seed sharing. When I first tried my hand at gardening, I did the tried and true route - you know, stuff you can find in ANY supermarket - with a "risk" or two thown in. Now, I am a GARDEN ADVENTURER, most of my selections are special, not something you can find in many local grocery stores. After all, what is the point in trading apples for apples when you already know what those apples taste like?

kara p.
2/15/2011 6:39:06 AM

My favorite seed company is Fed Co Seeds http://www.fedcoseeds.com/ in Waterville Maine. Their catalog is awesome and fun to read filled with hand drawn pics and awesome quotes that in and of itself is reason to order from them. Then a year or two back they heard from customers about the fact that a few of their seed companies used seeds that down the line were actually sold by Monsanto - they got rid of those seeds immediately and replaced them with non GMO varieties. They sell tons of organic seeds and, also trees, tubers, and bulbs. They also have a great school fundraiser called "Seed Store" where children can sell seeds (as opposed to wrapping paper, or candy) and make money for school programs. They support local farmers and MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assoc) and they're just an all around awesome, local, seed company!

matt middleton
2/14/2011 1:35:51 PM

My favourite seed company is Urban Harvest (www.uharvest.ca). They sell awesome varieties, and the staff at their nursery store are super friendly and knowledgeable. What really sets them apart is the owner of the company, as she was a representitive for Canada at Terra Madre (I think), and she has tried to bring unique varieties in to Canada:

sharon b smith
2/14/2011 7:45:01 AM

My very favorite seed company is Baker Creek Heirlom Seeds of Mansfield, Missouri, which also owns a seed company in California, and recently aquired a 200 year old seed company in Connecticut. Their commitment to quality seeds and a sustainable lifestyle themselves really inspires me (and their seed catalog is not to be beat)! Not to mention the fact that they are local to me, so I LOVE to visit the seed store on their premises, which also offers a cute little "community" called Baker's Creek. It's a lovely little "town" set up old west style, and several festivals throughout the year, bringing in organic vendors, speakers, music, demonstrations, and a whole lot more fun. My family & I love to visit, and make the hour and a half drive at least once a summer to enjoy the fun and gaze at their heritage poultry, and get new ideas on our kitchen garden for the next year. I buy 99% of my seeds from them and I am always happy with their service. They usually add in a free seed with my spring order, and I'm always happy to try something new. Last year it was Ponderosa Pink Tomatoes. I LOVED them, and am planting them again this year. They also offer seeds on-line at www.oldseed.com Their corn is tested as non GMO, which makes me extremely happy. I hope everyone checks out Bakers Creek or one of their subsidiaries. This is a truely up and coming company to be watching. Thanks! Sharon

mandy lange
2/12/2011 7:44:43 PM

My favorite seed company is Gurney's. They have always given me accurate shipments of my orders. The seeds are always vigorous. I especially liked the live bareroot raspberries I received from them. They looked like a stick when I got them in the mail but when it was warm enought to get them outside, they just flourished! I didn't have a single one die and it has been 2 years since. They have wonderful deals on strawberry plants also at prices you just can't get in a store. They deliver your order in under a week's time in most cases.

johnny jalopy
2/12/2011 7:30:57 PM

i pick johnnys as my favorite seed company. (no relation)because of all their helpful advice on planting and seed selection. their catalog goes into a lot of detail on what to expect from their choices of seeds and plants. i especially enjoy the down to earth flavor of the catalog, i enjoy just reading thru it on a cold snowey day.

2/12/2011 4:57:15 PM

JT beat me to it, but I love Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE)! When I decided to start from seed for the first time last year I knew I needed to research the seed company to make sure I was buying from a company that would provide a good product and a company I would be happy to support. After looking at an extensive thread on another website where someone asked the same question, I discovered SESE. I looked at over 20 seed companies on the web and SESE met all of my needs. First, it offered the option of heirloom and organic seeds. They also have a non-GMO policy and they are relatively local - only one state away! They also cater to those who live in the mid-Atlantic which really helps especially when you are a new gardener. I am still learning how to grow my veggies to produce a bigger harvest, but I had amazing germination rates last year. Most of the packets had a nearly 100% germination rate by my count. I feel like the time spent researching last year has really paid off this year. I am buying what I need from their choices and have found at least one variety that matched my needs out of every plant seed I looked for. While the other catalogs may have glossy full-color pictures, what I need is better met by the one I received in my mailbox a few weeks back from SESE. If anyone reading is in the mid-Atlantic area, I suggest you check out Southern Exposure Seed Exchange!

ed esch_2
2/12/2011 2:37:09 PM

Pinetree is my favorite, though I also order from Johnny's, Burpee & sometimes from Vermont Bean Seed. I buy a lot of seed at our local Gale's Garden Center in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. They carry Burpee, Ferry-Morse, etc at 40% off early in the year.

deb brooker
2/12/2011 1:51:00 PM

Fedco is the one for me. Living in maine is nice to have a local seed co. with some local growers. Prices, quality and service are tops. Plant quality from heir seeds has been great for us, and if you have a problem or question they are good at responding. They have greqt variety, organic and not. Heirlooms and new hybrids. Plus I like their policy on Monsanto!

janine p
2/12/2011 11:33:31 AM

Although Baker Creek has the most beautiful seed catalog I have ever read and Territorial has the gadgets and seed variety I covet, my favorite seed company is Irish Eyes Garden Seeds. Irish Eyes provides much more advice to novice gardeners in short-season climates than any other company out there. I live above 4,000 feet in rural NW Montana where my garden experiences snow in June and, in some years, at least one day of 32-degree or below temps in every month of the year! Irish Eyes may not provide the most polished catalog or website, but it does provide in-depth sowing and harvest info in easy to understand language. With their help, I've actually harvested veggies without a greenhouse in an area that many claimed was practically impossible to have a successful garden.

ramona deluca
2/12/2011 11:26:37 AM

I love Pase Seeds. They have so many varieties to choose from over 3,000 kinds. The tomato selection is the biggest I have ever seen. I have purchased alot of their seeds which have done really well. Check them out at www.paseseeds.com. They also have a survival seed kit which I bought which is all heirloom seeds.

gwen lambert
2/12/2011 10:51:27 AM

My favorite seed company hands-down is Seed Savers Exchange. What this company continues to do to maintain seed (and livestock) diversity amazes me. The germination rate is second to none and organic certification is clearly a high priority for SSE, as well as heirloom. I will continue to purchase and seed-save from this company and share the wealth of all of the unusual varieties and succulent flavors that they've offered and I've grown throughout the past few decades. Please check them out, you won't be disappointed! Also if you're in the area, set up a tour of their farm. This will be my planned vacation for this year, so I can see them in action!

mark harnetiaux
2/11/2011 11:51:07 PM

I love Johnny's Select Seeds. If not for the tremendous variety of seeds available, for the FANTASTIC amount of planting and selection information in their HUGE catalog. I have ordered on-line and found great clearance deals on veggies I wanted (just a different type) and could order more than 3x more seeds for the same price!!! Additionally, I have had excellent germination om all the varieties purchased. This year, I'm adding seedless watermelon to my garden. It's going to be a great year of harvest...

2/11/2011 8:25:18 PM

I love Baker Creek & Johnnys. When I get their catalogs it is like I got some new novels to read. The pictures, the descriptions and the stories behind what they do. I literally keep these books by my bedside so I can browse through them repeatedly. Baker creek has such outstanding descriptions and pictures, Johnny's gives me all kinds of info that as a new gardener is very helpful, it really is more then a seed catalog to me. They both offer such a huge variety and feel so strongly about what they represent - I like that. Everything about those books registers pure. Don't get me wrong, I have used others as well, but these two stand out. The products all speak wonders for the companies.

2/11/2011 5:34:33 PM

Here in Maine we are blessed with lots of great seed companies, but my all-time favorite is FEDCO. Quirky, opinionated, and entertaining, I find their offerings have great value and are tested for my region. I also order from Johnny's and Pinetree and have good experiences with them. When I lived in Texas I loved Native Seeds/SEARCH for seeds that would thrive in hot dry conditions. Their catalog is inspiring and educational.

farmer roz
2/11/2011 5:23:14 PM

Pinetree Garden Seeds, aka www.superseeds.com is a great company. Their seeds are 100% US grown (not like some of the bigger companies out there) and their prices are quite reasonable. A couple years back, we had a warm spring, so I called to ask them to ship my seed potatoes early and they were on their way a couple days later. They are a small company, located in Maine, not one those big business companies that stock your local Walmart with seeds. Give them a try, you will order again. By the way, I don't work for them! I live in UPstate NY

m. joplin
2/11/2011 2:21:25 PM

I live in SW Missouri and very close to Baker Seed Company. Needless to say the people are great, the seeds and the service on mail order is excellent. At different parts of the year they have Heritage Days from March to November where you can come enjoy music and purchase seeds and produce. Then in May they have a festival for spring planting it includes speakers, music and many venders to by different items from, everything from plants to homemade soap to veggie burgers. I have a wonderful time then meeting people and drinking homemade root beer.

2/11/2011 1:51:52 PM

I like to use Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for several reasons.... they have a great knowledge of heirloom seeds and have contracted quite a few local gardeners to grow seeds Exclusively for them. They have certified and non-certified organic seed, which makes for a very large inventory... Another great plus is that the are extremely close to me geographically... the next state over so I know that the plants I grow will stand a better chance of doing well in my area...they state "we emphasize varieties adapted to the Mid-Atlantic region" I also like their Non-GMO Policy "The Safe Seed Pledge" which makes me feel much better about purchasing seeds from them. SESE started in 1982 as an outgrowth of their love affair with heirloom varieties and in seed saving. From the beginning they believed that their seed company serves: (1) as a source for new, high performance varieties, and (2) most importantly, as a preservation tool for collecting and distributing varieties with special qualities: varieties with heritage, flavor, disease resistance, or other qualities of interest to gardeners. So I buy almost all of my seed from them... thanks JT

2/11/2011 1:16:15 PM

Looking through the pages of the Baker Creek Catalog is like taking a walk through a perfectly preserved, eclectic, and bio-diverse garden; untouched by mono-cultures and big corporations. It's a call to claim back what this beautiful and bountiful Earth has to offer. Yummy! Happy gardening, Belem Garcia-Stanley Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds rareseeds.com

2/11/2011 12:43:28 PM

For many years I have been using Johnny Seeds and Seeds of Change. So many gardeners and seed companies that I read about in articles are from north or west of me.....I live in the southern Blue Ridge mtns, in North GA...where ground can be very very fertile or you can hit a patch that won't grow weeds. These two companies have been very helpful when I call with a question about my particular situation and never fail to express envy for my long growing season! :) I found SOC in a grocery store called Earth Fare that only carries products from companies that meet their rigid standards for sustainability and fair practices. I found Johnny's on my own. Best part is that due to these two outstanding companies, now I buy fewer and fewer repeat seeds. The ones I have saved over the years are just amazing! Good products, good customer service,informative catalog, excellent germination and a sense of humor make these two my constant favorites. Makes me wish they open a branch near me....I would consider a career change!

mike eckert
2/11/2011 12:24:32 PM

i really like baker creek seeds. they have such informative and colorful catalogs and they are also involved with many other aspects of heirloom living. they have a wide variety of tips from gardening to chickens and even books and information that you might not find anywhere else. you can visit them at rareseeds.com

xakk asphodel
2/11/2011 12:10:03 PM

While I have a great fondness for both Seed Savers Exchange, and Baker Creek Heirloom, my #1 favorite is Pinetree (superseeds.com). Their catalogue is not as big and glossy as the others, but I feel that makes it "greener" which I appreciate. The descriptions are informative, of course, but also lots of fun. They have a vast selection - including not only standards, but plenty of heirlooms, and lots of harder to find seeds. Of the numerous seed sources I perused this year, they were they only one with the flowering kale/cabbage that I was searching for. They also have an excellent selection of herbs - again, I was having a hard time finding mustard (not for greens, but for the herb), and they had three kinds. And the prices...well! I ordered a packet of heirloom cucumber seeds for $0.95! They have some really great values on seeds that I saw in other catalogues for over $1 more per packet. They also have wonderful friendly customer service. I just can't rave about them enough. I truly believe they are one of the best around, and I am very excited about the huge order I place from them this year!

ashley w
2/11/2011 11:11:56 AM

I enjoy www.underwoodgardens.com They had varieties I wasn't able to find anywhere else this year. The service was awesome. I also buy seeds of change and botanical interests from a local store. Here is a link to a list of seed companies with ties to Monsanto: www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/821458/monsanto-linked-seed-co-s-to-avoid

karen carlson
2/11/2011 11:05:39 AM

I have 2 favorite seed suppliers: 1. Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater, Maine (www.woodprairie.com). They are a small family farm in northern Maine that grows the best organic food and organic seed. I would not order my seed potatoes from anywhere else. Their seed selection is not as large as other catalogs, but their seed have never failed me....quality, quality, quality. And because I live rural, with only small farms around me who work hard to be sustainable and responsible in this "Monsanto" cursed society, I do my best to research and support small family businesses who are of my mind set. 2. I suppliment my basics in seed with unusual varieties from Baker Seed Creek. Their catalogs are beautiful, informative, collectors items for me...and again, their seed are quality, quality. I only grow heirloom seed, and theirs, too, never fail me. I do plan to try a seed or two from Seed Savers Exchange this season, but have not so yet, so can't really comment. However, I will not abandon my favorites, just add to. Thank you for an opportunity to express my view. karen carlson

lisa bramblet
2/11/2011 11:03:39 AM

I have been a fan of Renee's Garden for over 20 years (Previously known as Shepherd's Seeds). Having the opportunity to get to know Renee personally made me even more of a fan knowing how careful she is on her seed selections and her interest in what her customers think about the items available and what they are looking for. She looks for the unusual and quality is a huge consideration as well. And of course the totally girly side of me loves the beautiful water color reproductions on the seed packs. :) Thanks for the opportunity to comment on one of my great gardening passions in life ~ SEEDS!

2/11/2011 10:30:44 AM

I like Ed Hume Seeds. Especailly the flowers. They come out so beautiful, and last a long time. But I also use the vegetable seeds too. And the vegetables are so good.

c koehn
2/11/2011 9:52:02 AM

Territorial Seeds wins without question for me because they have a great variety of seeds and plants as well as SUPER plant information...germination requirements and many other helpful tips. The 2nd place winner is Parks Seeds because they are South-orientated! There's no doubt whether their offerings will grow in my Zone 8 garden.

2/11/2011 9:48:24 AM

I use Baker's creek Heirloom Seeds, their website is: rareseeds.com. This site is very comprehensive and filled with gardening/ seed info. The company was started by a teen who collected seeds while in HS and then slowly turned his hobby into a business on the family farm. It is still a family business run by him, his wife and kids. Their seeds are collected throughout the country, and the world, from people who cultivate heirlooms. They also produce seeds at the farm -vegetable, flower and herb. Seeds are non-hybrid and GMO free. They are very helpful, friendly people. Since I moved from the north to the south USA I needed help growing things in a new to me climate. Bakers Creek has a purchasing option of seeds already separated into catagories called "north" and "south" so you minimize your gardening issues by trying to grow things that are just not suited to your area of the country, or you can buy as you want to try different and new seeds. They have a wonderful array from which to choose. You can buy online, and they produce a very nice catalog, too. You can visit the farm and they have several events through the year where there is music and food, like a harvest fair. They also have speakers discussing many gardening aspects. It is nice to go in the spring and buy plants to put into your garden and skip growing seedlings. They are located in Mansfield MO.

ken walling_2
2/11/2011 9:48:05 AM

Like a number of other people, my favorite seed company is Johnny's Selected Seeds. Living in Vermont, it's helpful having a seed company that is in New England and tests their seeds under may of the same conditions I experience. But beyond that, the amount of useful information contained in their catalog and on their website is outstanding. Other than weeding and trying to guess when the first and last frost is going to be, what is the biggest problem a gardener faces? Which seeds do I pick to give me my desired results? Johnny's information is the tops for answering that question.

cecil young
2/11/2011 9:08:55 AM

Thanks for the opportunity.

2/10/2011 6:17:07 PM

I use seedsavers.org and Johnny's. I have been saving seeds since I was a youngster (1950's). My mom was the daughter of missionaries and they were extremely frugal. I acquired an encyclopedic volume of doing things the "old way." We had a fairly good size garden, raised ducks, tapped our maple trees and boiled off our own supply of "northern sugar," got our milk from a local farmer RAW and eggs and chickens from a local chicken farm. Back in those days everybody raised "pastured" everything. Saving seeds was something I also learned from a neighbor that was a First People Shaman. He had the coolest herb garden I have ever seen. It was filled with all sorts medicinal plants that are native to the northeastern deciduous forests. When the "return to an agrarian America" movement got started in earnest with the "Boomers" in the late 60's I just naturally fit right in with that lifestyle. My career found me living in cities for much of my early adult years though. I learned container gardening because I lives in apartments much of the time back then but I still saved my seeds. :-) Sorry for my rambling but hey this is the only magazine I have always read and reread and NEVER disposed of purposely.

k paules
2/10/2011 5:57:53 PM

Have you ever read a Baker Creek Seed catalog?? Every page is filled with descriptions of heirloom seeds and each one is a history lesson in itself! Go to www.rareseeds.com and read about an old bank in California that has been transformed into a Seed Bank, and then the preservation of New England’s Oldest Seed Company! And most of all...don't worry that heirloom seeds will be hard to grow! As a novice gardener, my heirloom seeds from Baker Creek outperformed all my neighbors WITHOUT any fertilizers (just compost). They were the nicest and best tasting tomatoes we've even had!!!

amy hanridge
2/9/2011 5:25:04 PM

My favorite seed catalog/newspaper is from Native Seed SEARCH, a non-profit organization in Tucson working to save rare seeds from native peoples all over the American Southwest. My dry mountain Arizona home amid the pines at 7000 feet elevation requires very specialized gardening skills and no seeds grow better here than the ones grown by native peoples for generations on arid lands at similar elevations. The website for Native Seed SEARCH is http://www.nativeseeds.org/ . Best, Amy Hanridge

evelyn vincent
2/9/2011 11:36:33 AM

My favorite seeds companies are: Johnny's Select Seeds - for heirlooms, and cold season crops for growing year round, great selection. Pine Tree Garden Seeds at https://www.superseeds.com - they have some seeds the others don't have. Shepard's Garden Seeds at http://www.reneesgarden.com - they have some interesting seeds. Seeds of Change at http://www.seedsofchange.com - for heirlooms and Seed Savers Exchange at http://www.seedsavers.org - nice selection. Ronniger Potato Farm at http://www.potatogarden.com - fantastic selection of potatoes!

monica milla
2/9/2011 11:05:34 AM

I really enjoy ordering seeds from the Landreth Seed Company. I love their beautifully illustrated catalog, their wide variety of heirloom vegetables and seed potatoes, and their knowledgeable, enthusiastic owner. I also enjoy both Renee's Garden and Botanical Interests seeds to pick up locally. Both have gorgeous drawings on the seed packets, excellent growing information, and a nice variety of seeds, some heirloom.

j drew
2/9/2011 10:08:17 AM

Seed Savers Exchange www.seedsavers.org is my absolute favorite. Not only are they a great source of unique and original genetics, but every year they bring varieties that are odd, strange, and too much fun NOT to grow. A favorite of kids of all ages in our garden is the Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumber. They look like mini watermelons but have a great cucumber flavor. I've been wanting to pickle some, but they get eaten to quickly!

mother earth news fair


Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!