Garden Seeds Part 1 – Old-Time Prices, Classic Varieties, Old-Fashioned Companies

Part One of TwoClick here to read Part 2, “Heirloom, Organic, Specialty and Market Varieties”

It’s that time of year!  Colorful catalogs full of gardens seeds are filling mailboxes, and seed packet displays are cropping up in stores.   Where to begin?

Get ready to grow your own in 2016!
Get ready to grow your own in 2016!

Best prices for retail –

american seed 2Rochester’s Country Corner Market has  a great selection of inexpensive “American Seed” flower and vegetable seed packets from early spring through summer.

There is generally only one or two varieties of each kind of vegetable or flowers, but I have found that these seeds germinate well and grow nicely.  These are the old-time varieties of the most common types of vegetables and flowers.  These are particularly great for beginners.  You can experiment a lot without breaking the bank.american seed 1

Country Corner Market is at 10020 Highway 12 SW in Rochester, 360-273-9948.  They’re nice folks from our local Mennonite community, and their market also has a great selection of discount groceries.  They also sell bulk Yakima produce for canning in the summer, and they have good prices on canning jars and pectin.

Best prices for mail order –

I have found that the best overall prices for good quality mail order seeds are from Main Street Seed and Supply and Jordan Seeds, especially if you get their old-fashioned open pollinated varieties.

Main Street Seed and Supply Company has great prices
Main Street Seed and Supply Company has great prices on all kinds of seeds.
Ruby Red Leaf Lettuce
Ruby Red Leaf Lettuce

You can really save money if you buy bulk seeds and divide them up between friends and family.  I have found that both companies’ seeds, if properly cared for, will last for years.

Main Street has a great variety of lettuce seeds at great prices, including the elegant Ruby Red Leaf, shown upper right.

Early Alaska peas.
Early Alaska peas.

We loved growing Main Street’s petite Early Alaska peas when the kids were growing up.  We would eat them right off the bush when they were young, shell and all.  They were the first things that we could snack on in the spring.  I think they could grow on an iceberg.  If you let Early Alaska peas mature, they are supposed to make a good dried split pea.  Ours never made it to the kitchen.

Danvers carrots
Danvers carrots

Both companies have good customer service and a friendly voice at the end of the phone.  They are both still technically small businesses as far as their operations, so if you are trying to order seeds during their busiest times, be patient.

Neither company has fancy packaging, YouTube videos and such.  Jordan Seeds has a paper catalog you can order, but it’s pretty simple without glossy photos.  Jordan has also begun carrying seed potatoes and onion sets.

You can get a pound of Danvers carrot seed (above left) from Jordan for $15.35!  That will grow a lot of carrots.  Jordan’s Early Wonder Tall Top beet seeds are $7.45 a pound.

Jordan's Early Wonder Tall Top Beet seeds are $7.45 lb.
Jordan’s Early Wonder Tall Top Beet seeds are $7.45 lb.
Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans
Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans

I really love an old-fashioned family business like Jordan who understands the value of a dollar, and can cut their expenses without cutting quality, so they can pass those savings on to their customers.

Jordan’s Kentucky Wonder pole beans are just $2.30 – $3.30 a pound, depending on the quantity.  Get your friends and neighbors to join in, so you can all save money on shipping.

"Delicious" tomatoes
“Delicious” tomatoes

You can get nearly 11,000 Roma or Beeksteak tomato seeds from Jordan for $5.00, and the same amount of Delicious tomato seeds for $7.10.  You could feed the whole county for that!  All of Jordan’s prices are just as good.

Main Street Seed and Supply also has a good supply of wildlife habitat seeds, and fun things like gazing globes for your garden.  Their wildlife habitat seeds also include cheap and nutritious livestock (and people!) food too, like turnips, braising greens, and mangel beets.

Jordan’s assortment, quality and prices can’t be beat, and they’re a nice family, to boot.

Click here for Main Street Seed and Supply’s website.

Click here for Jordan Seeds’ website.

Old-Time Garden Seeds – Old-Fashioned Roses and Landscape Plants

Henry Fields Frosty Sweet Hybrid Turnip
Henry Fields Frosty Sweet Hybrid Turnip

Gurneys and Henry Fields are nice, old-fashioned companies with big, colorful catalogs to flip through.  Their vegetables and flowers are old-time, reliable standards.

Henry Fields still keeps their prices pretty low on their old-fashioned varieties.  Gurneys prices have increased in recent years, but they offer good deals on quantity purchases.

Henry's Fields "That's Delicious" sweet corn
Henry’s Fields “That’s Delicious” sweet corn

Henry Field’s “That’s Delicious” Hybrid Sweet Corn gets high customer ratings.

What is also nice about these companies is that they have a good selection of bare root perennials, landscape bushes and trees as well, and you can combine your seed and live plant orders and save on shipping.

We still have Gurneys and Henry Fields landscape plants that we planted twenty years ago that are still going strong–forsythias, lilacs, snowballs, roses and the like.  Stay away from tree fruit and nuts that don’t do well here–peaches, apricots, pecans, etc.

gurneys honeoye strawberries
Gurney’s Honeoye Strawberries

Both companies have healthy strawberry plants that grow well in our western Washington climate and pump out nice tasty strawberries, as well.

For jam making, try Sparkle and Honeoye varieties.  Jam strawberries are smaller than the big “dipping” strawberries, but they are much more flavorful and productive.  They generally ripen within a few weeks, so have your jars, pectin, and sugar all ready.

Shumway catalog
2016 Shumway catalog

The perennial winner for the most beautifully vintage catalog is R.H. Shumway’s.   Each big, bountiful catalog is a work of art, with nary a photo.  Shumway’s incredible artwork, primarily sketched in black and white on creamy newsprint pages, goes along wonderfully with the catalogs vintage style and down home chattiness.

Their seeds grow well, too!  You can find some real old time treasures in Shumway’s catalog.

Jung Seeds is another old-fashioned company with a colorful catalog and a nice selection of vegetable and flower seeds, as well as bare root perennials, strawberries, landscape plants and trees.

I just love this photo of Jung’s jumbo cabbage!jungs megaton hybrid cabbage

Burgess is another old-time catalog that combines seeds and bare root plants, at good prices.   Their seed generally do well, and their basic landscape plants and sturdy roses do well here.  Again, as with Gurneys and Henry Fields, avoid their tree fruits and nuts that need a different climate.  Their bare root plants aren’t quite as nice as Gurneys and Henry Fields, but since their prices are low you can experiment a little more.

Burgess also has a half price vegetable seed sampler that would be good for beginners.

Burgess Half Price Vegetable Seed Sampler
Burgess Half Price Vegetable Seed Sampler
Burgess White Carolina Pineberry
Burgess White Carolina Pineberry

Burgess’s new “White Carolina Pineberries” look interesting!  White strawberries that are supposed to taste like pineapple.  Well…it’s worth a try, right?  I’m not sure the jam would be too pretty, but it could be a fun fresh treat.  They are supposed to fruit twice a year, like an everbearing strawberry.

All of these catalogs have websites where you can order online, as well.

Click here for Main Street Seed and Supply website.

Click here for Jordan Seeds website.

Click here for Gurneys website.

Click here for Henry Fields website.

Click here for Burgess website.

Click here for R.H. Shumway website.

Click here for Jung Seeds website.

Click here for Part 2 of my Garden Seeds article – “Heirlooms, Organics, Specialty, and Market Varieties”

Please feel free to post a question or comment below.  I look forward to hearing about your experiences!

-Melissa Gensonmixed vegetables 2

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