Swallowtail Garden Seeds?

mastiffmom_85February 1, 2012

Hi all,

I am considering ordering some seeds from this company for container plants, particularly tomatoes. I want to grow a few things this year, but I need to go slow as I'm new at this and don't want to overwhelm myself.

Has anyone ordered from this company? Any ideas on what varieties might be best? I'm intrigued by some of the "new for 2012" plants they're offering, and might order a few to try. If I do, I'll definitely report my results.



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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I order seeds from them and so do several other people who post here. I've been very happy with their service, their prices and the speed with which they fill orders. Everything I've purchased from them has germinated well and grown well.

Having said that, the sooner you order the better. I try to order in December and January before the seed companies become flooded with orders. The later in the winter/spring you order, the longer it will take any seed company to process your order simply because of the high volume of orders they're now processing.

I'm growing a lot of varieties of tomatoes (and some flowers too) this year that I purchased from them either last year or this year.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 3:47PM
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Great, thanks for the info, Dawn. I went ahead and placed an order. I was sucked into the "free shipping" for orders over $30. I probably didn't need $30 worth, and the shipping was only $3.95, but I was distracted by all the pretty pictures. ;)

Here is the list of what I ordered. I mainly tried to stick with stuff that I can keep in containers, though I doubt the cukes I ordered are built for that. I'll have to decide what I'm going to do with those. If any of these definitely WON'T do well here, please alert me, and I won't even bother trying to start them.

Tumbling Tom Red
Balconi Yellow
Mega Bite
Cherry Falls

Mignonette Alpine

Bush Beans:

Tyee Hybrid

Green Ice Loose Leaf
Simpson Elite Loose Leaf
Dark Red Lollo Rossa Loose Leaf

Sugar Snap Sprint - we'll see if I can even get these going early enough?

Lemon (looked interesting, and I liked the yellow)

Mostly I'm interested in lettuces and tomatoes this year, so if I can just can a little of those, I'll consider this an enormous success.

Any feedback?

Thanks again,


    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 5:32PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


You're welcome.

Of the items on your list, the only tomato I've grown is Tumbling Tom Red, which I first grew in 2009 or 2010. It performed really well both in a large container and in the ground. They produced really well and really early.

Strawberries from seed may not produce the first year here, or may produce in fall. I grow strawberries some years, but last year's drought wiped out all my plants and I am not going to replant any this year because of the likelihood of drought. (I'm hoping the forecasted drought will not materialize, but since it probably will, I'll wait until next year to plant strawberries again.)

Provider is a very good bush bean.

Spinach does better for me in fall than in spring because as far south as I am, we often go from 'too cold' to 'too hot' in about 3 days and the crops that truly need cool weather just wither on abnormally warm days. Since you're farther north than I am, you may get a great spinach crop. That's one of those things you have to try for yourself to see what spinach does in spring vs. fall. You did pick a very reliable variety.

All three of your lettuces should do very well. I think Simpson Elite will last longer than the others in terms of bolt resistance.

Peas. I haven't grown that variety but it should be fine. One way to get them going early is to soak them in water for a couple of hours, then wrap them in a coffee filter and put them in a zip-lock plastic bag to pre-sprout them. Once you see tiny sprouts, pot them up in the growing medium of your choice (I use three-ounce paper cups with the bottoms cut out of them) or plant them directly into the ground. As long as you get the pea plants up and growing by early March, they should have plenty of time to produce a harvest unless July temperatures arrive in April or something. Peas aren't real crazy about being transplanted, so I put them in paper cups and just pop the paper cups into the ground at planting time so the peas' roots aren't disturbed. The paper cups decompose over time or, if you pull out your pea plants to toss onto the compost pile when they're through producing, any part of the paper cup left will come out of the ground with the plant and can go onto the compost pile as well.

Lemon cucumber could be grown in a fairly large container--10 gallons or larger. If you stick a tomato cage into the container, the cucumber vine will climb it. I like lemon cucumber. It is one of the first heirlooms I grew that was a non-traditional color, and it makes lovely pickles.

I assume you're referring to canning tomatoes, not lettuce. None of the tomatoes you listed are true canners, but that doesn't mean they cannot be canned, just that their water content will be high. That doesn't matter if you want to can them as whole, bite-sized tomatoes but if you want to cook them down into sauce or something, you may find they cook down to almost nothing. Also, it takes many pounds of tomatoes to can one batch. If you cannot get enough tomatoes at one time, you can keep adding your tomatoes to a zip lock bag in the freezer until you have enough for one canning batch. Or, if you cannot accumulate enough at one time for a batch, let me know and I'll find you a small batch recipe that will make as few as 3 jars instead of the standard 7 or 9.

With tomato plants in containers, it can be hard to get high enough yields at one time for a canning batch unless you have a lot of tomato plants.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 8:15PM
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I've ordered from them too and have been generally pleased with the seeds. Good turn around time - although not near as fast as Bakers Creek.

I branched out and ordered ornamental grass this year and thyme seeds from them. Some I have wintersown...and the other half I'm wait to direct sow.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 8:36PM
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LOL, I'm sitting here thinking, "Did I say something about canning?", wondering if I've lost my mind, when I realized there's a typo in my last sentence. It should read, "if I can just GET a little of those". :)

But, I do a little canning, so this probably would have been one of my questions eventually, if my plants actually grow something and produce more than we can eat immediately. For the most part, though, I'm planting these just to see if I can get them to make one vegetable, period. If it goes well, we will cross the planting-with-canning-in-mind bridge next year. I'd really like to put up some salsa and sauce, but that's forward thinking and not imminent for this year, unless I just buy some tomatoes from some farmers around here or something.

I'm glad that I've picked some decent varieties. I wondered about the strawberries, but some of my pots are irrigated, so I might give them a shot in those and see if they do anything. If not, we'll try again next year if the drought outlook is any better. Ugh. Have you ever used actual strawberry pots? I think they are pretty but wonder if they are at all practical.

That's interesting about the cucumber. Do you think it will make many cukes if it's in a container? I was thinking about just sticking it in a bed somewhere and seeing how it does, but it would probably be easier for me to do a container, if it would/could work in that. I mostly just picked it because I needed to spend a couple more dollars for the free (haha) shipping, but I am intrigued with heirlooms and thought it was pretty. As you can see, I am a sucker.

Paula, I've been reading the Bakers Creek catalog for the past couple of days, and I want to order one of everything, especially the tomatoes. My husband lived in Ukraine for a while, so I'm intrigued by the Ukrainian/Russian varieties especially. Most of the vegetables from the Ukrainian area should (in theory) do well here, as their climate is actually very similar to ours, without the wind and earthquakes. We went to Ukraine a couple of years ago, and I encountered a very interesting rhubarb type plant that everyone around there grows for show and to eat. People there grow the most beautiful produce; the soil is black and beautiful and smells wonderful. Everyone I know there plants a garden, no matter how small their patch of dirt is. They are industrious and successful gardeners, even in the cities. They are people that know what hunger is and do all they can to prevent it.

Are there any Bakers Creek items that you especially like?

Thanks again for the great info!


    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 9:34PM
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Dawn, I also meant to say that the other three tomatoes I listed were noted "New for 2012". I chose the Tumbling Tom as the "dependable" one, because I've read in several places (and from you, I believe) that they are a great container tomato. I am planning to plant all of them, so I will try to be good to them and give a thorough report. They all look lovely on the website (of course) and were noted to be excellent for containers and good producers, so we shall see if even a newbie can succeed with them.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 9:46PM
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