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Seed supply 2021?

VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 381 ✭✭✭
edited October 2020 in Vegetables

Has anyone heard anything from seed suppliers about whether they will have enough seeds to handle another year of high demand?

I usually order most of my seeds in January, but I'm wondering if that will work this year.



  • JensJens Posts: 462 ✭✭✭

    Well I will start ordering my seeds right know just to be on the safe side

  • herbantherapyherbantherapy Posts: 442 ✭✭✭✭

    I put in an order for next year already, prepping another list for a separate seed supplier to order soon. The seeds packed this year will be fine for the next years seasons.

  • herbantherapyherbantherapy Posts: 442 ✭✭✭✭

    If you haven’t bought garlic seeds do it now! I almost didn’t get mine and I had to change a variety I prefer because they were out.

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 381 ✭✭✭

    Thankfully, garlic is one crop for which I'm self-sustaining. I replant some of the summer-harvested garlic in fall, a little before first frost.

    I've put a lot of effort this year into getting several kinds of perennial onions established, so I'm in good shape there.

    But it's probably time for me to start ordering all the seeds that I can't easily save in my small garden, such as cucumbers, lettuce, mustard, spinach, etc.

  • FergFerg Currently United States, Appalachia. Previously Great Lakes, GNYMA, Germany.Posts: 290 ✭✭✭

    actually you can get a lot of seeds from your own produce. If you can tomatoes, strain the seeds out and then rinse and dry them. Same with peppers, eggplant, corn, cucurbits (all the squashes), a lot of herbs...

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 381 ✭✭✭

    I notice everything you list is a hot weather summer crop. :-)

    Most tomatoes these days are hybrids. If you save the seeds, you'll get something, but it's unpredictable. If you only grow a single variety of heirloom tomato, you'll be fine.

    Cucurbits are "outbreeders" and suffer from "inbreeding depression" unless you can save seeds from a bigger garden than I have. I'm sure you can get away with it for a year or two, but not long term.

    I don't grow corn (needs a lot of space), eggplants (we don't eat them), or peppers (bell peppers don't do well here, though I could easily grow hot peppers).

    I am definitely saving some pea and bean seeds this year, even though some may have crossed, and I will save some of my eating potatoes to plant in spring. But lettuce, spinach, and mustard, which are key parts of our spring and fall gardens, are harder to save.

  • CorneliusCornelius Posts: 230 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2020

    I personally always save some seeds from the pack so that way if I have to I still have some seeds. How effective I am differs on how many were in it to begin with (some of them only have 15 seeds like my dwarf moringa). Although I would guess next year seeds are going to be tighter especially after the mass spread of COVID we are probably going to have this fall/ winter.

  • Lisa KLisa K Posts: 419 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have been ordering seeds as I hear about new ones or use them up, I have a couple of times had to request an email when they are back in stock. Other than that I have been able to get most on what I want.

  • Ethereal EarthEthereal Earth NevadaPosts: 142 ✭✭✭

    I read a piece in Mother Earth News that was an interview with various seed companies. Some of the smaller companies are all set for higher volume, while others cannot keep up with demand. I would suggest ordering seeds now and storing them in a cool dry location until next year if you are really worried about the supply, especially for rarer types of seeds or organic/non-gmo. You can also call the company directly and see what they say? I may do that with some of my favorite small companies to see what the outlook for next year is.

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 381 ✭✭✭

    There are no dry storage locations here. Humidity is nearly always pretty high at least until frost. I would probably end up tossing the seeds in the freezer until spring.

    I will probably order most of what I want soon, just to be safe. I'm planning to be more focused in 2021, growing more trusted, proven varieties and fewer experiments, so my seed order will be smaller. Also, I will probably not plant any new perennial trees or bushes in the coming year. Fortunately I have already done quite a bit on that front.

    I'm also going to focus on plants that produce significant amounts of food, less on interesting but not-very-productive novelties.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy I also have humidity much of the year (southeastern Penna) so it was always difficult to save seeds over from year to year. Since I generally have so many I couldn't waste all that space in my refrigerator just for next years seeds.

    So generally I didn't even do it anymore. I just reordered what I needed every year.

    But 2 years ago, because of short on time, I did not get to garden as much as usual so lots of seed packs left. So I just figured I also had lots of Mason jars which never got filled that year because of no harvest. I figured I would put them to use and see if they could help.

    So I made jars of Spring/Summer and Fall crops. One for tomatoes, one for cukes etc (I always plant a lot of certain varieties so I needed more jar space for them). I added a dessicant pack to each jar and a paper towel on the bottom. Some jars I even added some dry oatmeal/cornmeal etc so that also would absorb moisture if any got in. Then I put the jars in a cardboard box, closed the flaps and let it sit in a dark area.

    I did not lose a single pack of seeds doing it that way. Everything stayed dry inside those jars and all worked well the next year.

    If you do have seeds left and have some jars (must have a lid) give this a try. It really did work well. Just try to store your box somewhere not in direct heat or you will probably defeat the whole purpose.

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 381 ✭✭✭

    @greyfurball That sounds like a good idea. I routinely keep my seeds for winter greens under lights in Mason jars in the same room with the grow lights, and they hold up fine through the winter (except onion seeds, which are notorious for short lifespan).

    In past years I haven't covered up the jars to keep light away, but I started doing that this year. The lights (other than grow lights, which are underneath the jar storage shelf and don't shine on it) in that room are seldom on, so the room is somewhat shadowy, especially in the warm months.

    But I haven't tried the desiccant packs or oats in the jar to absorb moisture. That may be the missing piece.

    The gauge one room away from the grow-lights room says 71% and 66 degrees F right now. There's no way I could ever hit the "temperature + humidity less than 100" outside of a refrigerator or freezer, but if I could get the humidity inside the jar down, it would be possible.

    Where do you buy your dessicant packs?


    I am going to try some seed saving this year to try to avoid having to buy some seeds

  • MelindaMelinda Greater Atlanta AreaPosts: 124 ✭✭✭

    I get my seeds from MI Gardener, and have started ordering now that their supplies are better. I don't want to run into the same problem again next year.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭


    So far I have not had to buy any because I always save every one I see from stuff that I purchase.

    Supplement bottles always have them. Many kinds of groceries have them (cookies, crackers, candy etc.). Shoes, purses, sweaters, pants etc. always have them in it if it is packaged.

    I do know though just for curiosity sake one time I was also wondering where I could get them if I would run out and I did find them on Amazon so I know they stock them. They had small packs (for us normal people) all the way up to big caseload quantities.

    Also, think about if there is anywhere else in your house where you could get the temperature a little lower. Maybe do you have a basement, an unheated garage, an attic also unheated etc.. The cooler you can get the better their survival.

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 381 ✭✭✭

    Our basement is "finished" and insulated, and heated with an oil furnace and a wood stove. It's actually warmer down there (in certain rooms) than in the bedrooms in winter because of the woodstove cranking away!

    Our garage is unheated and not insulated or attached to the house, when means it gets quite warm there in summer and freezes in winter.

    The garage would be a good option in late fall through early winter, but in mid-winter anything placed out there needs to handle freezing temperatures.

    What I really need is a cold cellar for food storage. That would be great for seeds. But putting one in would be a big project.

  • jodienancarrowjodienancarrow Mid North Coast AustraliaPosts: 708 admin

    @VermontCathy I’ve had trouble sourcing seeds when I go to the garden centre or hardware. So I found a great on line seed distributor of heirloom seeds. No fuss, no fancy packaging and great germination rates. This is in Australia. No mention of running short.

  • maimovermaimover Posts: 307 ✭✭✭

    I’ve kept seeds from all the plants we grew; except onions (they were planted from seed and didn’t reseed). Every time I saw/see a seed display I check to see if there is anything I want/need. Have to get fall garlic in (that didn’t ship soon enough for spring planting) and hope it’s still ok.

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 381 ✭✭✭

    @jodienancarrow I definitely recommend ordering from highly-respected seed suppliers online rather than taking potluck in local stores.

    @maimover I've never heard of spring planting garlic. Even here in zone 4, we plant it in September and it winters over under a layer of mulch. We routinely get lows below zero Fahrenheit. How low do your winter temperatures go?

    If you want to save seed from onions, I strongly recommend potato onions, shallots, I'itoi, or bunching onions (Welsh onions, spring onions, etc.) Also consider Egyptian walking onions. All of these will let you replant a bulb, bulbil, or new shoots sent up by the plant. They are far easier to work with than onion true seed.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy no you just stated the perfect solution.

    An unheated garage is not necessarily too cold...you just have to get inventive. Do you have any of those foam insulated coolers with a lid? Or just a regular Coleman cooler or something like that (that you would use if you go camping or on a picnic etc. where you dump ice in it with your food and or drinks).

    In essence you are trying to find something around your house which can be converted into a mini storehouse.

    Find what you have, line the inside with something warm, a blanket, a sheet of insulation, some of that hardware store foam insulation. etc. and line your container. Place your jars in it, line the top and then close the lid. If it is one of those old styrofoam coolers you will need to wrap a belt or a rope around it or put something heavy on top of the strofoam lid so the lid stays tight.

    Wa...lla! One homemade cold cellar.

  • FergFerg Currently United States, Appalachia. Previously Great Lakes, GNYMA, Germany.Posts: 290 ✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy I have been saving seeds for a very long time. I don't do hybrids, and my cucurbits grow true. I do not have a huge garden, and you don't need a huge garden/farm. People have been doing this for a very long time, much longer than seed companies have existed.

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 381 ✭✭✭

    I was able to order 90% of my 2021 seeds today. I had to check several suppliers in some cases before finding one that had a particular variety in stock, but it was nearly always available from at least one source.

    There are still a few not ordered yet, but none are important. I'd be quite content if my garden next year was only the varieties ordered today plus the seeds, bulbs, and tubers that I am saving myself.

    I've got garlic, onions, and potatoes covered from saving my own, and strawberries and raspberries in the ground as perennials.

    The most concerning thing was the statement at Annie's Heirlooms web site. It says, "Due to very high order volume, we are unable to answer the phone or return messages at this time."

    This is not a message I expect to see in September! (In the northern hemisphere, anyway; our Australian friends probably expect it.)

    I don't blame Annie a bit for this policy. I'm just surprised that order volumes are already high. Clearly those of us on TGN are not the only people concerned and planning ahead.

  • dottile46dottile46 Posts: 402 ✭✭✭

    Making me think. I better get on that before I am left high and dry.

  • maimovermaimover Posts: 307 ✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy when I ordered the garlic it said plant early (I guess like the onions in early spring) or in the fall but they didn’t ship out soon enough so have been waiting. Also what I’ve been through with the pressure canner ordeal is insane. Short story of a very long story...I was able to locate a mirro 22 quart pc. It was brand new, in the box, at a hardware store; not used. The 10 lb pressure regulator didn’t work right, lost canned good because of it, called and called and called them. Same deal due to Covid 19 blah blah customer service has limited hours. I called for almost 2 weeks at different times. Nobody there. Even Comcast has their customer service people working remotely (and they are the WORST). I called vitamix the other day (I needed a part) the representative was, wait for it, working remotely from home. Finally realized in the instruction manual that the address was in the same town I live. Drive their to find locked gates; call the guard, he transfers call. No answer-left message. Waited in parking lot. Called again, left another message. It’s been weeks and still no call back. I understand a lot of this but so much just makes no sense at all. So I’m stuck with a $100 brand new pressure canner that if I want to use will have to find (and that’s a huge problem these days) AND pay more money and shipping if I can find the weight. It’s ridiculous!

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 381 ✭✭✭

    @maimover I would like to get a pressure canner eventually, but given all the supply chain problems plus the fact that my current stove top is flat glass, I've decided to wait at least another year to pursue that. I hope you can get the parts to get yours working.

    I'm having my own aggravations with seed orders this year. I wanted to try Fortex beans, which were recommended on a web site. Searching all over the net showed that hardly anyone sells Fortex bean seeds, but a well-known firm that is one of my regular suppliers for other seeds does. Great!

    So I ordered assorted seeds from them last January, including the Fortex. A short time later, they contact me by email to tell me that the Fortex part of the order will be delayed, and I may not receive it in time to plant this year! (They did offer to cancel and refund.)

    Fortunately, the seeds did get here in time for planting and produced a good crop. Now I want to plant them again in 2021. So I put them in the orders that I placed yesterday...

    Today I received an email from them stating, "Due to unexpected customer demand, our inventory was depleted prior to your order being processed for the following item(s):" which of course was the Fortex 250 seed product. "We are working to replenish our packed seed inventory and items are coming back in stock regularly. If the items you are looking for become available in the upcoming weeks, we will waive standard shipping charges on your next order."

    I replied to the email, asking whether smaller packets of Fortex were still available, or if they were completely out of all Fortex seed.

    The email immediately bounced. The email address used to send me the cancellation apparently can only send, not accept, emails.

    To make the situation worse, I was letting my Fortex beans go to seed as a backup plan, until I found yesterday that I could order more for next year. Once I thought I was going to get them, I went ahead and harvested the beans. :-(

    I am sympathetic to business challenges. I am self-employed myself, and realize that it is always hard to keep your customers happy.

    But they would have saved me a lot of aggravation if they would just keep their inventory system up to date, and showed the seeds as out of stock on the website when I ordered.

    As of right now, 3 1/2 hours *after* receiving the "out of stock" email, the web site ordering system still shows Fortex 250 ct in stock...

  • maimovermaimover Posts: 307 ✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy it’s all so crazy! I’d order again. That has happened so many times. I’ve heard people placing Amazon orders for canners, not being available, and then they find them again, order, and get it in a few days. Good luck and I hope you can at least get your seed.

  • Suburban PioneerSuburban Pioneer Posts: 193 ✭✭✭

    Try just letting your mustard go to seed and doing its own reseeding. It may be happy enough to take care of itself with no effort on your part. We have Red Dragon mustard, and that stuff establishes itself all over the place on its own. We get free crops every spring and fall. This year’s babies are starting to poke their little leaves up right now, in fact!

  • SherryASherryA Posts: 291 ✭✭✭

    I'm concerned about getting seed potatoes for next year. If I can find some now, will they keep until spring? If so, how should I store them?

  • GroundedGrounded Posts: 154 ✭✭✭

    This last season I went to order seeds online and received a response that they were no longer taking orders for the year. I used a paper order form from their catalog and mailed my order in. The order took a while to be filled, but I received 90% of my seed order. More recently, I have received e-mails from that seed company offering expedited shipping and discounts, so I would assume they are not suffering from low stock.

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 381 ✭✭✭

    I recently received orders from Annie's Heirlooms, Johnny's, and High Mowing. They are definitely still shipping product even if they may be out of stock in some things.

    Annie's still has some garlic, so if you are having trouble finding it, give her a try. This is the last year she will be selling garlic.

    I think the smaller seed suppliers are actually handling the changes a bit better than the larger ones. They probably only sell to gardeners, not farmers, which may give them more flexibility.

    Other options exist:

    A local friend of mine gave me a new variety of hardneck garlic. She originally bought it in a grocery store, but she has been propagating it for at least 6 years now, so it clearly does well in our climate.

    Think outside the box on seed sources...

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