buying seeds

We have relocated to Central America recently, specifically Nicaragua. We are brand new to gardening but excited to start. I am interested in ordering heirloom seeds. Are there seed companies in the USA that would sell heirloom seeds that would grow well here? Are there any English resources out there that would tell me what grows well here? We don't have a lot of connections here yet. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!



  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,998 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Dee Baker Creek Seed, search link:

    In Missouri, still free shipping in the US, not sure about out of country. A hoard of awesome and fun and beautiful seeds, plants, bulbs etc... most of them heirloom, maybe all of them heirloom..not sure but I only buy heirloom..

    Also just do a search for seed companies in America and hoards should show up for you.

    Would be fun to hear about your adventures in your new home country.

    The best to you..

  • torey
    torey Moderator Posts: 4,403 admin

    Hi @Dee. Welcome to TGN's forum! You have chosen a good place to come for gardening advice.

    You've already found our introductions section. I suggest you check out our Front Porch Welcome, too. I'll leave a link here.

    I'm from Canada so not as familiar with US companies. I checked with Richter's which is a very well known seed company and they won't ship live plants outside of Canada or the US but they ship seeds world wide. I would suggest that you use our search bar and type in Seed Companies. There are several discussions where people mention their favourite seed sources.

    You may need to have permits (something called a phytosanitary report?) to import seeds. It seems as though the USDA - Foreign Agriculture Service has a lot to do with agriculture in Nicaragua. So maybe the US Embassy in Managua can help.

  • freedomform
    freedomform Posts: 7 ✭✭✭

    Hello Dee, we are located along the South Nicaragua border CR side. We have been living and growing here for many years and my experience is that unless you have a well-controlled environment like a good greenhouse, the heirloom seeds from the States didn’t do too well here because of the tropics having such a different climate and the types of bugs. For us, all of the regular heirloom vegetable seeds that did grow were quickly eaten by the local bugs so never reached fruit. However, I have found that perennials do best here and everything that you plant must match your tropical zone. From the USA, if you got seeds of plants that grow well in South Florida, they will probably work here. In the tropics there are big differences in what will grow well depending also on your humidity levels, amount and distribution of rain, sunlight, and temperature as well. Your elevation has a lot to do with this too as what side of the mountains you may live on or if you have direct trade winds that affect your area. What do you plan to grow, and what part of the country and elevation are you at?

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 6,009 admin

    Welcome @freedomform! It's so great that you are available to give solid advice on growing gardens in your area. Nothing beats local experiential knowledge!

    I bet those bugs really enjoyed those unique delicacies from another country and made sure they invited everyone to their party.

    I am curious then, what can you actually grow there?

  • Dee
    Dee Posts: 2 ✭✭✭

    Thank you so much for your response and insight. It's really helpful to hear from someone in the area. We are also in the south, but in the San Juan del Sur area. What area specifically are you in? (I wasn't sure if you live in Nicaragua or Costa Rica). Where can one buy more local seeds that will grow here, rather than necessarily ordering from the States? I would like to buy organic seeds and want to be able to save the seeds. I want to grow a variety of vegetables - tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, beets, potatoes, garlic, and some herbs, or whatever else might grow well and easily here. The elevation here is approximately 22 metres or 73 feet. Thanks so much for your help!

  • freedomform
    freedomform Posts: 7 ✭✭✭

    Hello Dee, Yes we are actually in CR and have an organic permaculture fruit farm. I have been to San Juan del Sur, it is very nice, but quite hot and dry climate with a strong dry season Jan - April. Do you own much land where you could plant trees and perennials and plan to be in one place for quite some time? If not, then maybe only annuals, or some perennials depending on your plans... Rivas had a pretty good nursery which is just 2 blocks to the East of the Bus Station if I remember correctly. You could ask in there about seeds, but the problem I have found here in CR is that all of the commercial seeds they sell at the store are hybrids. If you asked in Rivas at the market who sells organic seeds you may find a vendor there. One problem I have seen in the tropics is that many seeds will have low germination if not coated with the pink anti-fungal coating. One thing I have done is purchased the vegetables and collected the seeds, but doesn't work for many kinds. Garlic has been difficult here, regular tomatoes difficult, but the local cherry tomatoes seem to do well and the bugs don't get them much. Beets haven't worked, nor garlic, minor success with cucumbers. Lettuce, cabbage, carrots and potatoes you may want to use a greenhouse for those. In Rivas at the farmers market you can find all the local vegetables and many of them you could plant. Two years ago I went over to Ometepe Island to find some unique fruit tree seeds I couldn't find here like jackfruit, and other seeds and that was quite a success. There are two well established organic permaculture farms there, Zipolote, and ( and project bona farm. Bona fide is larger and has a nursery where you can buy plants and trees and I got a lot of seeds from the manager at Bona fide as well, he works with the volunteers (you may consider a day trip and take the ferry from St. Jorge to visit both farms). However, it really depends on what your goals are and what you have to work with regarding where you live. Another option, is I do have a guy here in CR in San Jose who does sell organic tropical heirloom seeds, I have purchased from him several times and he is trustworthy, however the key would be getting help with someone getting them across the border to you or up to Rivas, which may be possible (I know a good eye doctor in Rivas as well and his son lives over here and travels back and forth. If you want to check out what PAZ has, he is "Victor at PAZ seeds" (you can find him on (FB "ganos paz") Spanish only, you can download his pdf for a list of all the seeds he has in stock. If you need any contact info like his Whatsapp etc. send me a private msg and I will send it to you. Do you speak Spanish? :)

  • freedomform
    freedomform Posts: 7 ✭✭✭
    edited January 14

    Hello @LaurieLovesLearning, well most of the regular vegetables (Carrots, Beets, cucumbers, potatoes, tropical sweet potatoes, green beans, cabbages, are common) they do grow here in greenhouses, in the higher elevations of San Jose in the center of Costa Rica where it's cooler. Lettuce is mainly Romaine or a similar type and cilantro and spinach is also available, but mostly from hydroponics greenhouses so totally controlled. But for locals all of these things are fairly difficult without a greenhouse. Cherry tomatoes do well however and many tropical squashes and tropical pumpkins (ayote). Many perennial tropical vegetables too like chayote is a vine type of squash that is quite good and common here. However what is the easiest and very common are fruits, like mangoes, lemons, oranges, star fruit, papayas (gives fruit in less than a year from planting the seed), and of course bananas (can give fruit in 8 months. Taro root is common here that anyone can grow as well as the popular Yucca which gives a potato starch like root vegetable in less than a year and can plant from just a stick of the plant. A great survival food if you are in the tropics. Noni fruit trees grow very fast and the leaves make a great stir fry. In Nicaragua they are very poor and so many locals rely on sorghum grain because it is a good producer in the tropics as well as corn of course. Beans and rice are on the top of the list also :)

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 751 admin

    @Dee Welcome to TGN! Something to also consider is that many annuals here in the states are perennials in tropical locations like tomatoes, peppers, etc. Dragon fruit would probably do well and is very healthy! Maybe a Cacao tree? Moringa would and has a lot of nutrients. There are also many native edible plants that may be unknown to people outside of the region so going to a farmers market and talking to locals would probably give some really good tips.

  • Tave
    Tave Moderator In the AndesPosts: 944 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Every climate and country has its favorites. I found that asking the locals and seeing what is sold in the markets really helped me find what grows good where I am. I did bring some seeds for some things I missed, and most of them are doing well. Others died, and I learned to live without them. Cayenne and jalapeños were the first I brought down.

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