Finding the best sources for garden produce seed can be tricky.
There are so many places to purchase garden produce seed! Over 100 places, actually. And your local stores doesn’t ALWAYS carry the best quality seeds. But how do you choose who to order from?
You have to really narrow down the playing field to find the right company and seed that works with your location and values.
Heirloom vs. Conventional?
Local garden stores vs. companies across the country?
In this post, I will:
- Narrow down the 9 best sources for garden produce seed.
- Give you ideas for where to find the best seeds for garden based upon values or resources.
- Include the best options for conventional, heirloom garden seeds and bulk seeds.
DISCLOSURE: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. THIS MEANS THAT, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU, I MAY GET A COMMISSION IF YOU CLICK THE LINK AND MAKE A PURCHASE. THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT IN THIS WAY!
What is already working where you are?
One of the best things you can do first is just to ask around. Use what is already working with other gardeners in your area. This is also a reason you could be supporting your local garden supply shop.
Your local store is going to have good seed that grows well for your area. Check in with the store owner to see what brands they get in for their local area.
Also, if there’s a garden club in your area, join up with them and see what they are using. You’ll get plenty of honest opinions on what is working well as well as which companies are easy to work with gardeners.
Will Shipping and Seed Costs Work in your Budget
The next question you’ll need to keep in mind is related to your biggest resources. Money. How much seed can you order within your budget?
Because, we gardeners tend to go crazy when it comes to purchasing seed. We are like kids in a candy store with all of our favorite flavors.
So, when you’re researching companies or garden centers, do shop around. Also, stay in line with your garden plan and space when considering how much seed to purchase. Measure out the area and calculate row length to determine your map.
Which companies are easy to work with?
So, who are those reputable companies that are easy to work with while providing the best quality seed? The good news is that the best garden seed companies are organized and ran by families who also love to garden. They understand the needs of the gardener but also aim to provide the best quality.
I’m going to list out some companies I feel are the best and worth bringing up for consideration. From here, you can do your own research in choosing the best sources for garden produce seed that is right for you.
Let’s begin with your first heirloom seeds.
Heirloom seeds are wonderful because you can keep them and reuse them. And I love not having to buy certain seeds each year just because of the convenience factor.
- Baker Creek Seeds (Missouri) (Request a Free Catalog Here)
- Renee’s Garden (California)
- Tomato Growers Supply Co. (Florida) (Request a Free Catalog Here)
- Seed Savers Exchange (Iowa)
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds (Maine)
- Southwest Exposure Seed Exchange (Virginia) (Request a Free Catalog Here)
Conventional – Please skip if you just don’t want to know.
If you’re not into growing conventional or using technology, please go on to the next section. This section is not for you!
The big debate in this section is going to be GMO’s. Again – it’s not the only way to go so if it’s not your way, please scroll on.
Note that the only garden produce crops that are GMO certified are:
- Summer Squash (Designed to help with squash bugs)
- Sweet Corn (To help keep corn clean from ear worms and other bugs)
I add this conventional section because as a farmer, I do use conventional seed varieties if I can get better results from them. I actually grow both organic and conventional in my garden and I favor the GMO varieties. Pleas note: There are several natural gardening practice I use to try to prevent problems first and foremost before I use any sort of spray or technological control methods in my garden.
One of those practices we’ve tried to control with GMO varieties is squash bugs in the summer squash. We’ve tried rotating crops, companions, beneficial wildlife and other things, but the best and cleanest summer squash we’ve ever grown is the varieties from Syngenta.
We’ve also done research trials in our own garden for several years rotating the squashes and comparing the GMO varieties to non-GMO summer squash. Still, the results were no comparison. The plants stayed bug-free and clean. The squash were so uniform and delicious to eat. While the non-GMO varieties were not as nicely shaped and continued to be attacked by squash bugs.
Again, I’m not saying you need to follow this section if you are truly anti-GMO. I’m just the type of educator that gives options to all growers. And GMO varieties are designed to help solve real problems. They’ve been tested for years. Just click the link above and you can read through the entire process of just how they are tested for years before even being introduced.
So, there are a lot of myths surrounding GMOs and I’m just not one to believe that they are true. I stick with the facts and choose to use what works for me and my garden. With Summer Squash, the answer I found was in the Syngenta varieties.
Ok – Let’s move on to a more happier section. Ordering lots and lots of seed.
If you’re a market gardener like me, you’ll want to be buying LOTS of seed. Bulk seed is the cheapest way to go.
Here is a very short list of my favorite online places to purchase bulk seed:
- Garlic – Filaree Garlic Farm (Washington)
- Johnny’s Selected Seed (Maine) – The top recommended place to purchase vegetable seed by market gardeners!
- Southwest Exposure Seed Exchange – Check out their bulk line here
These three places to purchase seed are so easy to navigate. They make ordering so simple with great pictures and descriptions of each variety.
Not only do they have bulk seed options, but they have supplies and educational resources as well. They are truly the top of the line as far as I’m concerned and I honestly recommend them.
What to Avoid If Possible
While I’ve given you several places to begin your quest in finding the best sources for garden produce seed that work best for you, here is what I don’t recommend.
I recommend strongly avoiding stores, such as Wal Mart for your garden seed. You’re going to find cheap seed but it’s not guaranteed to be great seed. Stick with garden centers and companies that know and specialize in what you as a gardener need.
Also, a company I would strongly recommend avoiding is Gurney’s. In the past 10 years, I’ve ordered from them. Results have been questionable. Some seeds did not germinate properly. I just haven’t had a consistent satisfactory report to recommend them as a go-to.
What about Local Places?
Ok, so your local places will more than likely be ordering in from one of these companies. I truly recommend that you try out their selection and see what works for you there. They might also have their own varieties, which you know should work for you in your local area.
In a nut shell, yes to local hardware stores and garden centers carrying local seed or seed from any of the above distributors.
Support your local business owners and communities for sure.
Like I mentioned, there are over 100 places to order and buy your seed from. My goal was to narrow down your options for you. The seed places I mentioned and linked to are the top of my list and the places I order seed from each year based upon what I’m needing.
The first thing you need to do is know your needs. Know how much you actually need to buy. Can you get it local? What varieties are best for your area? What are other gardeners in your area recommending?
I hope this post has helped you to narrow down and plan where you’re going to start shopping for your garden seed needs.