a reason to buy hybrids, a reason to support local

digit(ID/WA)December 21, 2010

I feel fairly comfortable posting it here but I'm sure that this post would cause a fight in some forums. Ah, the politics of seed purchasing . . .

It must be fun to have a local seed company one can support.

There's always something new to try "out there." I used to get quite frustrated with a local garden center and their seed racks. They carried seed from probably 7 or 8 different companies but often, the varieties were all the same . . ! (They are doing better these days.)

Example of the problem: when I decided that I wanted to grow leeks, I could buy "American Flag." . . . in half a dozen different envelopes! I WASN'T at all happy with the performance of that variety and felt that, if leeks were going to be in my garden, I'd better try something different. Yeah, but no choice . . .

The internet is a wonderful thing but I keep coming across outfits where I certainly don't know their history. Service is a question as is seed storage and packaging. With hybrids, the seed isn't from the catalog company since some one source owns those genetics. It becomes one reason to buy hybrids. If Sakata Seed does a good job with that variety - it doesn't too much matter what catalog outfit you buy from.

Open pollinated varieties -- man, you just don't know! From, maybe, dozens of sources, where did that seed come from and what has been happening to it? The Blacktail Mountain watermelon seed I bought this year had 0% germination - nothing flopped anywhere close to that!!

Baker Creek now has subsidiaries on both coasts! I guess I waited too long to order some things unique to Comstock, Ferre. After a century or 2, they are out of business. So, now we have seed companies that have strictly O-P selections consolidating by acquiring their competitors!


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No, I have nothing against hybrids, might even prefer them. The problem is every year is a bunch of new names and pretty pictures and I have no idea it they would work for me. Try them and next year they don't exist and a whole new bunch come up. And $2.98 for 15 seeds doesn't help. Then there is the store that only sells seeds with a certain lady's name..Never have I gotten over 20 percent germination from any of them. No problem at all with my home grown seed. Should I mention the two wrong verities out of maybe 10 from a well known seed supplier?.
Yes, big beef is top of my list every year. So I do buy hybrids.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 2:02PM
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david52 Zone 6

Couple of thoughts -

A depressing amount of hybrid vegetable seeds, as well as OP, are now produced in China, then whole-saled here. Depending on the vendor, more times than you'd like, what was in the seed packet was not what was written on the outside of the seed packet.

I'll happily use hybrids when they're the best thing out there - Sungold tomatoes, Cha Cha and Confection squash, Candy onions. But some stuff, like hybrid green salad onions - why? Whats the advantage over the vastly less expensive OP?

I dunno - just for the sense of pride, I try to save all the seed I can. Plus it saves an awful lot of money.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 5:27PM
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xaroline(zone 3 Calgary)

Saving seeds is important as the large seed companies do not always know what they are selling when they purchase bulk from all over the world.
I try to find out whether the companies grow their own or not. A few do.
The small local seed suppliers seem more reliable. And other gardeners are an excellent resource too.

I like to see commercial seed companies show a germination test result and it
would also be nice if they would state when the seed was harvested.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 1:11PM
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If you're looking for more leek varieties, check out Fedco Seeds in Maine. We've also found some interesting heirloom leek varieties from JL Hudson Seed Trust in California.

Hybrids have their place -- afterall, nearly every heirloom was once the "latest hybrid" decades or centuries ago. And we usually have 2-3 in our 1/4 acre garden, even F1's. We like to seed save so our preference is heirlooms (not to mention their taste and hardiness!)

I think this is where the truly good seed companies separate themselves. The good ones do know their suppliers and what they are offering -- afterall, their business reputation is at stake. Good companies don't want to see bad reviews on the watchdog sites. It's bad for business. We are rarely disappointed dealing with the best companies.

Buying at retail stores adds another variable to the "mix" -- how that seed was stored at their warehouse once it left the seed company. That's why except for one hybrid (Burpee Pic n Pic), we buy our seed direct from the seed companies rather than retail stores.

(Just my 2cents)

    Bookmark   December 27, 2010 at 6:32PM
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