Seed Ordering–Round One

I decided to start in early on my seed ordering now that I have most of the catalogs I do big orders from in-house.

It’s a slow process–I have a two-page list of things I need to order, and while some things are decided as to variety and supplier, there are also many items on the list that require going back and forth between the different catalogs I have, as well as going online to look at suppliers whose catalogs I don’t have yet (or who aren’t printing them).

When I don’t need a large quantity of a particular seed, I often order from Pinetree.  While their per-seed prices are generally higher than places like Johnny’s, their per-packet prices are usually a lot lower, and their shipping is also very reasonable.

Johnny’s has some of the very tried-and-true varieties that I’ve grown in the last several years–Marvel of Venice beans and Red Long of Tropea onions and Sungold cherry tomato (though everyone is carrying those now).

They also carry the bigger packets of greens seeds, and I use their Encore organic lettuce mix as the base for my Goddess salad mix.

Territorial has also gotten a share of my major seed order in the last couple of years–they tend to have a few interesting vegetable varieties outside the normal range (Johnny’s has gotten very large-market-grower-oriented in the past few years) and their seed quality is very high.

A couple of places I plan to make orders from as well: Seed Savers Exchange, Skyfire Garden Seeds, maybe High Mowing (though I’m hoping they’ll have a seed selection at the Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Conference in Watertown next month).

Seeds Savers Exchange tells me I’m on their mailing list for this month’s round of catalogs, which is good, because their web order system appears to be down as of this afternoon.  Thought I’d get a jump on that, but I was thwarted.  I could still call them and place an order based on their web selections, and I might to avoid missing some key varieties.

I might also make an order through Seeds of Change–though admittedly it’s their flower section that always tempts me the most, and I already have way more flower seed than I know what to do with.

I was also looking at some beet seed through Turtle Tree, a small biodynamic seed company whose catalog I picked up at the MOSES Organic Conference last spring.  I always like to do a little ordering outside the normal range of big suppliers, so I can get an idea of quality and varieties that are out there just a little below the radar.

Who are you ordering from this year?


8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mary on January 4, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    We’re ordering heirloom seeds from Victory Seeds, Everlasting Seeds, and the Ark Institute. We want to make sure we don’t purchase any seeds that are hybrids or that have been genetically modified.

    Thanks for your list.

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on January 4, 2010 at 8:53 pm


    Thanks for the comment.

    Most of the crops I grow are from open-pollinated and often heirloom seed–many varieties of which I save myself. I do buy F1 hybrid seed for some crops (never GMOs)–for instance it has been difficult to find an open pollinated eggplant that does well here. I tried another one last year and every fruit was rotted and nasty–but the two varieties of hybrids I grew did great.

    But I have also been switching to non-hybrids of other crops that are a little tricky as I trial different varieties and find good open-pollinated types. This year I won’t be growing Ace Bell (F1), because I finally found (actually was given by a very nice lady at the Seed Savers Exchange table at the MOSES Organic Conference) a very good non-hybrid bell-type pepper last year that will become my main crop sweet pepper.

    I’ve grown many good open pollinated sweet frying or bulls horn peppers, but none of the O.P. bells I tried before this one (Napoleon) were particularly productive. Napoleon’s not even technically a bell, but it’s close enough in shape that my market customers identify it as one and buy it.

    Part of the issue is that as a market farmer and a CSA operator, I can’t just replace a main crop with an untested variety–so I’m often growing more than one variety at a time–one or two varieties as the “sure thing,” and one or two as “trial varieties.” That gives me a little leeway in case the trial variety isn’t able to cope with the unpredictable and extreme South Dakota weather.

    I’ll check out the catalogs you mention–thanks for your list!


  3. Hi Rebecca-

    I stumbled upon your blog while searching on the Local Harvest website. I work in the winter for a seed company in Vermont called High Mowing Organic Seeds. (In the summer, I double as a farmer at a 40 acre organic vegetable farm). Anyway, High Mowing is a family owned company that carries over 450 open pollinated, hybrid and heirloom certified organic varieties of vegetable seed. Just thought it might be of interest to you…And by the way your farm blog is by far the best I have seen!


  4. Posted by flyingtomato on January 5, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Thanks, Holly!

    I actually have you guys listed under my seeds and supplies link–one of our certified organic local growers recommends your company highly. I’m looking forward to getting to meet your boss, as Tom Stearns is one of our keynote speakers at the Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Conference in Watertown, SD next month. Tell him to bring seeds! 😉


  5. Posted by Mary on January 5, 2010 at 9:13 pm


    Will you be going to the Great Plains Vegetable Growers Conference starting this Thursday in St. Joseph, MO?

    Just asked because I’m going to be there.

    And if you have a chance, could you share more about the MOSES organic conference?


  6. Posted by flyingtomato on January 6, 2010 at 8:48 am


    I had planned to go to the Great Plains Conference, but now it looks like I’m giving a presentation at the Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Conference in Watertown, SD–so I’ll be going to that one instead. MOSES is the biggest organic farming conference in the country–it’s in LaCrosse, WI on February 25-27 of this year. They have a ton of workshops, exhibitors, great food, and they even have a bookstore set up for the event. Go to for more details.

  7. Posted by Mary on January 7, 2010 at 9:27 pm


    I never made it to the Great Plains Veggie Conference. I tried leaving yesterday and didn’t even make it to Yankton before I turned back. The roads were horrible, and it was snowing and blowing and drifting. I was ready to drive the 5 hours to St Joe, but thought better of it after several harrowing experiences on the road. I feel bad to have missed all the great classes, but I feel safer staying home.

    Thanks for the turn-on with the MOSES conference. I’m going to check that out.

    Hope your presentation went well.

  8. Posted by flyingtomato on January 7, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Actually, the presentation isn’t until early February, but I can only get away for so many conferences, so I chose the NPSAS one. It’s very good, and it looks like it has gotten a lot bigger since the last time I went.

    Sorry you missed the St. Jo Conference, but glad to hear you’re safe!

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