Country Living Series

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Garden seeds – in November?

Yesterday, an interesting post came across a regional preparedness website as follows: "Order garden seeds NOW. Today, I went to my favorite garden seed sites to find out that many are not printing catalogues this year AND they are out of some of my favorite varieties, forcing me to try different ones. If you have saved some seeds you are way ahead.  If not, a seed exchange may be considered in the early spring to share extras."


We've been so busy with our relocation that I haven't given any thought to gardens, much less seeds. Is this person correct? Is a seed shortage already in the works for 2021?

Curious, I did a little poking around online and came across a post called "Top 12 Garden Seed Catalogs 2020" which mentioned: "Update: Some companies, in order to save on waste and money, no longer print paper catalogs… Their catalogs are online only. While I do love curling up with a cup a tea and a stack of catalogs, consider doing the same with a tablet. I encourage companies to save all the trees they can, and besides… you get faster service with online ordering anyway!"

While this cheery note hardly bespeaks dire predictions, it is certainly a break with tradition for seed companies not to send those seductive and colorful paper catalogs in the mail each January.

I logged onto my favorite seed company's website, Victory Seeds, and all seems normal (or as normal as can be in 2020). They have catalogs available upon request. However ...

When I clicked on a random vegetable corn many many varieties are already sold out for 2020. Not everything, but a lot more than I expected.


Same with beans.

Other veggies (broccoli, carrots) seem well-stocked. Yet other veggies (peas, lettuce) have mixed results some seeds are in stock, others are sold out.

Now granted, I haven't gone through every seed company or even every vegetable within a particular seed company. However certain news articles are confirming the trend of ordering early (here and here).

Remember, older seeds are still viable. They may not have as complete a germination rate as fresh seeds, but who cares?

So I think the person who posted that comment is correct. You may want to beat the rush and order garden seeds NOW for your 2021 garden. We don't know what next year will bring, and garden seeds are a relatively cheap investment.

21 comments:

  1. Patrice, I have noticed holes as well in the company I purchase from. Not complete outages, just some odd and interesting out of stocks.

    And yes, no more catalogs anymore. All online. I do miss the excitement of a new seed catalog as well, but have learned to make do with the very nice electronic pictures.

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  2. The places I look at have lots of seeds sold out for 2020 months ago. My concern is for 2021.

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  3. I ordered my seeds some time ago. I, too, had to change from my usual variety on some and visited a few sites to get what I needed. When I discovered shortages, I encouraged others to order early. A friend new to prepping was telling me about all of his food purchases, including a large supply of freeze dried. He commented that he thinks he has enough to last a year. He asked if I thought he still needed seeds. I asked him what he was going to eat when everything he bought was gone. He just stared at me. So, we talked about what seeds he might want to get and how to store them. I told him that if it came to needing to grow our own food, I would help him get started. (He’s never gardened before.) He and his wife got some of my extra vegetables and canned them. They said they wanted to learn now before they had to do it. I also suggested getting some books or downloading information on growing and preserving the foods they like.

    Long post to get to this: I think the shortage may be because of people who have bought early, bought extra, and first-time buyers.

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    1. A friend once told me proudly that his son had purchased a years supply of freeze dried food. I told him he should buy 2 years worth, he asked why? I reminded him, what if that first year there was a bad crop due to (fill in the blank) then what would they eat? He got the message.
      I will try to get new seeds but I also have a lot of older ones and some that I have harvested. I always thought I was a good gardener however there is so much more than meets the eye. Order early, at least your favorites. I try to order short season and cold hardy for my North Idaho place.

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    2. I also found a lot of seeds at Dollar General last summer. They were 10 cents to 50 cents a pack. I bought every one they had, and some were heirloom. If worse comes to worst, we'll need everything we can get. These are seeds that I can share with others to get them started growing their own food.

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    3. Anonymous, you are right. I am reminded of this cartoon.
      Montana Guy
      https://i.imgur.com/8vx5G75.jpg

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  4. A couple of seed companies i've used:
    https://www.highmowingseeds.com/
    https://seedtreasures.com/
    Keep on truckin'...Good luck on your move

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  5. I ordered recently from Baker Creek and they had a third of what I wanted to order. I plan on watching each month. I don’t expect to get the rest of what I want though...

    Ouida Gabriel

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  6. Ordered enough seeds for two years back in September. Plus I saved a lot of seeds from this years garden. Not taking chances. Having reduced germination is better than having no seeds at all.

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  7. Patrice, how to you recommend storing seeds for good germination? I bought some at our Farm Store's year end clearance (the sell by date was for the same year I bought them) and had horrible germination rates the next year. Granted, I paid 5 cents per packet, but it was a waste of time to get one or 2 seeds to germinate per packet.

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    1. Despite the pretty packaging, I've heard that seeds bought in little packets (like those found in hardware stores or grocery stores) are among the lowest-quality seeds out there. You'd probably do better purchasing directly from seed companies.

      As for how best to store seeds: As a rule of thumb, dark dry conditions are best, but every seed has different optimal conditions. You might consult a reference book for your particular seeds.

      - Patrice

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  8. Call me crazy, but when I noticed this spring that a few varieties of seeds from a certain company didn't even germinate, I ordered the same things from two different companies. Added to my own seeds, something should grow next year.

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  9. For some reason, when I try to post with google, it disappears, so I’ll try this! Last spring when i ordered seed, it took 6 weeks to get them. That was too late for spinach before the heat set in. I ordered my seeds for next year this past September, too. It still took about a month to receive, but just in time to sew some winter spinach under plastic.

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  10. How is Enola gay and family? There blog and butcher FB site are way outdated. Hope they are ok? Thank Don

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    1. They're doing very well. I think their focus for the last year has been on the business rather than social media. Enola's last email said they've been wildly busy this year -- which is great news!

      - Patrice

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    2. Thanks, Patrice.

      That's what I'd figured-- she'd said as much, when she did post-- but it's good to hear they're just busy.

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  11. It's not surprising that they'd show seed being sold out for 2020; the next garden season will be 2021. Most companies probably don't even have their seeds on hand for 2021 yet! I wouldn't worry so much that they're all sold out or something; just good to get them as soon as possible as this past year so many took up gardening that the seed companies were overwhelmed.

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  12. After reading your blogpost, I went online to check my usual sources and discovered exactly what you were saying. Many sold out items - sometimes even an entire class of items (no leek seeds of any kind for example), other times simply specific types (no Marzano maters, but still lots of other maters). Needless to say, I quickly ordered what I could find, instead of waiting until Christmas to order as usual.
    XaLynn

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  13. People got scared, back in the spring.

    The local nursery sold out of garden starts within two weeks, started extras in March, and sold out again. Seeds sold like crazy.

    I'd imagine that's still in play. I hope that, if we get out of this crazy scrape with society intact, gardening being a normal thing again lasts. That would be one silver lining.

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  14. My local garden center said that many people said they were gardening because they had the time since they weren’t working/going to school.

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  15. I already placed my order and received most of what I ordered. I agree that people got a little freaked out this past spring. Considering the current situation with Food Insecurity, I'm not surprised we're seeing the seeds snapped up. The line at my local food bank this week extended through the parking lot, down the street and around a corner. It was close to a mile long. People who went were upset because they barely had enough to get them through a couple of days, let alone a week before the next pick up. I'm in a rural suburb. Our garden is directly behind the house, out of sight of the street. We know people who have had their very visible gardens wiped out of produce overnight. Take care out there!

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