Country Living Series

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Finding seeds during scarcity

I've been asked to write an article idea on the subject of finding garden seeds during times of scarcity.


Everyone's been hearing about how seed companies are stretched to the limits or even sold out as desperate gardeners, both novice and experienced alike, descend on them in a panic. Many companies have stopped answering the phones and are putting up online pleas for understanding as they try to handle back orders with limited capacity and inventory.

What I'd like to examine is alternate sources for seeds or seedlings. Obvious examples are getting seed from gardening friends and neighbors, but I'd like to delve deeper.


Since I can think of no finer source of information than you, the reader, let me pick your collective brain. What are some sources where people might find seeds if the usual sources (such as online companies or big box stores) are out of the loop?


Your ideas will help everyone.

30 comments:

  1. I found a wonderful source for seeds. I ordered all of my seeds from Jackie and Will Atkinson who have a seed business called Seed Treasures out of Angora, Minnesota. Service was absolutely fabulous. They have an on-line site.

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    1. I use Jackie and Will's business also. Great service and wonderful, heirloom seeds. She also has a wonderful blog describing their life in Minnesota.
      kathy in MS

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    2. Thank you for recommending Seed Treasures! They turned my order around very quickly!

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  2. Well....a lot of libraries around here have a seed library as well. BUT that requires being able to go to the library-which is deemed non-essential-at least for now.

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  3. Since I have not experienced the least bit of scarcity of seeds here in Alabama, I can think of several options. First, dig around at home and see if you have any left from previous years. Ask friends, neighbors, people who live far away. Seeds can go through the mail. Check with smaller stores who might be closed and see if they will sell you seeds without you having to meet; set up a place to pick up seeds and leave money or put it on a card, or write a check.

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  4. I’ve had luck finding seeds at the dollar stores. Not as great as a seed company, but can work in a pinch!

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  5. try your local hardware store or feed and farm supply

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  6. I ordered and received some seeds from MIGardener's site recently. Don't know if he's still up and running though.

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  7. Here in Central Texas, Producers Co-op in Bryan has a good supply of bulk seeds available. Local Lowe's and Home Depot as well as Ace Hardware all have seeds fully stocked. Then again, if you have been prepping for years, you can simply visit your stash and have ample supple to plant this years garden - with spares just in case seeds are in short supply next gardening season.

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  8. Our local small grocery store had a big rack of Burpee's and it looked as if no one had touched it.. I was surprised.. $2.79 per pk. Small stores might be the way to go right now.

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  9. I already had my seeds, but I did find Amazon, R.H. Shumway, and our local feed stores still have seeds available. I heard that Rural King and Lowe's are selling plants too.

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  10. From the other side of the pond here in Wales I buy from a company called realseeds.co.uk. The website is packed full of good adive on seed saving. All their seeds are heritage varieties. Because I've been following them for a number of years I've been able to supply a dozen other people with seed I've saved from them.
    I think this whole situation has highlighted just how dependentmmost people are on big box stores and who good yours and others advice on self sufficiency over the years has been. Many garden centres here are packed full of seedlings, seeds and supplies but are closed. A number are doing a delivery service. Ironically the supermarkets are still selling garden products so instead of walking around the open air garden centre with widely spaced aisles people are packing into a big box store breathing air recycled through an air conditioner....

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  11. Spice aisle. There's coriander and fennel and mustard. Popcorn. Dried beans. From the fresh aisle, tomatoes, pumpkins, pineapple tops, onions for the greens and they'll go to see this year, put celery and romaine ends in water. Disclaimer, I haven't tried all these

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    1. ...And don't forget dry beans: pinto and cranberry beans sold for food can be grown, and they will be bush form. As far as I know, there are no hybrids. Dry beans are scarce right now, but if there are some in the pantry, they can be put to work.

      Old seeds will often work, too. I have successfully grown cucumber and corn seeds that were several years old; the germination rate might have been slightly lower but was about 80%, as I recall.

      I have also seen very well-stocked seed racks at Home Depot and Tractor Supply. They are open in Georgia. Many will be hybrids, but will produce a crop this year at least.

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    2. FYI, if you pick pinto beans while small and not dried, they make delicious green beans.
      kathy in MS

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  12. Our library has a seed saving program. Last week they sent out an email offering to mail seed packets to patrons (limit of 5). If your library has seeds but is not open perhaps you could contact them and see if this would be a possibility.

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  13. If you've gardened previous years you probly have some left over seeds, or planned ahead and already have your seeds.

    If you haven't gardened previous years then you probly shouldn't be trying to put in a HUGE garden anyway. Call that friend or family member who did garden last year and ask them if they can spare a half dozen seeds or so of the types you want and start those.

    A note, seed starting supplies are ALSO in very short supply by me. However, as I told one customer yesterday (the only one who asked), you don't need anything fancy for seed starting. You need a pot or pots (depending on the size of the pot and how many plants you want to grow), and you need good quality potting soil, both of which I DO have. You need the ability to keep the dirt moist and warm while the seeds are germinating, and you need the ability to keep them well lit and reasonably warm while growing. None of which actually needs those fancy seed starting kits.

    For damping off problems I've found that a sprinkle of regular store bought cinnamon on the top of the soil after planting has done wonders for my success rates.

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  14. If you compost, volunteers can be a great help although sometimes what you get is surprising!

    Checking with local neighbors might work too - we have a neighborhood association that is fairly active.

    A plug: Sow True Seeds out of North Carolina is still shipping and they have an excellent selection and excellent customer service.

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  15. Ahhh gardening! There is nothing as satisfying as planting something and watching it grow, especially for a "farm kid" at heart. There are numerous providers of seeds throughout America. I got mine from "Seed For Security", a provider of Heirloom - Non GMO seeds. Well satisfied with them, their shipping and overall customer service. Seeds came sealed in mylar bags for longevity. I got their "Colossal" pack, enough seeds to a single person as well as a family when you harvest some of the seeds from those grown, the rest of their lives......
    The best thing I can say about gardening is that it's outcome encourages you to be self sufficient....

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  16. Talk to your gardening friends, I'm betting some of them have extra seed that they didn't use or they may save seed and have some to spare. Seed saving is a good hobby to start.

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  17. I have been buying extra for years. I am willing to share them with folks now. If you are actually in need (not stocking up) contact me at churchmeadowfarm@yahoo.com and let me know what you prefer. We'll see what we can share. M Mc

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  18. I realize that I am in Kommiefornia, but, really, there is no problem getting seeds or plants. I went to Green Acres Garden Center on Saturday-it was loaded with people, kids, and dogs-and plants and seeds galore. Walmart also had seeds and plants. Eisley's nursery, and High Hand Nursery also have plenty. That is Folsom, Auburn, and Loomis. So, maybe it is in other states. I'm just thankful that I am not in NYC or NJ, as their quarantine rules are crazy -Stealth Spaniel

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  19. Living in Central Oregon, our grow season is a sketchy 90 days, with the occasional frost tossed in just to make it exciting. I use a company out of Alaska called Best Cool Seeds. They specialize in short season and cool weather crops. They are generous with their seed packs and get things out to you quickly.

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  20. Patrice, did you see this? They stole your tire garden idea: https://aileenby.com/products/fabric-raised-bed?fbclid=IwAR2bB6uO1L0OjbA7-fakq_bsrpWWO0mUkaRQcb08iZeQW4KzfI1H2LAjYTA

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    1. Well, I don't know if they **stole** the tire garden idea, but I do know we didn't have to pay $18 a pop for each "tire." Ours were free.

      - Patrice

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  21. Neighbors who garden are the best source of seeds, as they know which varieties do well in your soil and climate. Some will be social-distancing, but if you leave a note on their door with your contact number, and a question or a seed request, I bet they will give you a few if they have them. If they don't, they will refer you to another local gardener who might.

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  22. Hey Patrice,

    I also saw that a week or so back on OAN. There was a picture of a corner of dollar store brand seeds that was taped off along with word along the line of "nonessential items banned from being sold". Put me in a mood for a few minutes.

    Here is actually my tips and ideas. Go to the grocery store and still buy your seeds. I sometimes get my seeds by buying the fruits and/or veggies that I want to grow later on and harvest the seeds from those. I always grow bell peppers from those seeds, and I once did it with tomatoes.
    I hope that can help.

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  23. Having a source of fresh seeds is why I almost exclusively grow heirloom vegetables and let the best of each variety go to seed, then save them. Takes both some practice to get good at it, and the patience to leave some plants in your garden for far longer than you normally would, but it's worth the effort.

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  24. Patrice, I took your recommendation long ago for purchasing heirloom garden seeds from Victory Seeds.
    they are located within 30 minutes of me and I love to support local businesses. I had gotten lazy about starting my own garden plants for a number of years after finding a small local nursery with amazing prices and wonderful selection. But this year my husband was cut off from an income in early March. We decided to dig out extra garden beds in our back yard and pulled out my old Victory Seeds to see what they could do. Please keep in mind these seeds were purchased in 2012. We planted them all up in egg cartons and put them under our old grow light. The vast majority of those 8-year-old seeds came up and are lovely seedlings! I am most pleasantly surprised. I just ordered more seeds from Victory and despite their website indicating it could take over a month to ship because of high order volume, we received our seeds in a couple of weeks with a lovely handwritten thank you. Just putting that out there. Thanks for introducing me to Victory.

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  25. My local CSA organic farm has vegetable and herb plants this year. Seeds are in very short supply out here in Connecticut.

    Fran in CT

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