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2019 Seed Buying Guide

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Welcome to Small Farm Canada’s annual Seed Buying Guide. You’ll find seed suppliers from across Canada and into the U.S. who have worked hard to supply whatever seeds, bulbs, corms etc. your small farm needs. So put a log on the fire, curl up with the dog, and start planning!

A’Bunadh Seeds
Box 127, Cherhill AB T0E 0J0
780-785-2622
gardenofeden2010.wordpress.com
Heirloom seeds and plants grown in Northern Alberta.

Adaptive Seeds
25079 Brush Creek Rd
Sweet Home OR 97386
questions@adaptiveseeds.com
www.adaptiveseeds.com
Pacific Northwest grown, open-pollinated organic seed.

Agrohaitai Ltd.
2764 Hwy 99, Box 45
Lynden ON L0R 1T0
519-647-2280
agrohaitai.com
Seeds for Oriental vegetables.

Annapolis Seeds
8528 Hwy 201 Nictaux NS B0S 1P0
annapolisseeds.com
Heirloom vegetable, grain, herb and flower seeds — all grown in the Maritimes by small-scale growers committed to ecological farming methods. A living seed bank.

Aster Lane Edibles
Kinburn ON
www.asterlaneedibles.ca
Ornamental edibles and other practical plants.

August’s Harvest
4727 E Perth Road 130 Gads Hill ON N0K 1J0
1-877-272-1742
augustsharvest.comSeed garlic: porcelains (music, norquay), rocambole (legacy, Kuduk,Vitlock), Purple Stripe (jachlo, Black Sea), glazed purple stripe (svea) and elephant garlic. Garlic livestock feed supplements.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
2278 Baker Creek Road Mansfield MO 65704 USA
417-924-8917
www.rareseeds.com
Heirloom vegetable and herb seeds.

BC’s Wild Heritage Plants
604-858-5141
www.bcwildheritage.com
Shrubs, ferns and herbs.

BC Eco Seed Co-op
www.bcecoseedcoop.com
BC-grown ecological and certified organic seed — vegetables, herbs, flowers and grains. From packets to bulk quantities, the Co-op has seeds for all growers. 

Berton Seeds
4260 Weston Rd. Toronto ON M9L 1W9
www.bertonseeds.ca
Italian vegetable seeds.

Bird & Bee
2530 Autumn Hill Cres. Ottawa ON K1B 4M7
613-601-9177
birdandbee.ca
Small organic urban seed house

Blazing Star Wildflower Seed Company
Box 382 Aberdeen SK S0K 0A0
306-253-4219
growwildflowers.ca 
Wildflower and tomato seeds.

Boughen Nurseries
Box 1955 Nipawin SK S0E 1E0
306-862-5313
www.boughennurseries.com
Hardy fruit and nut trees.

Boundary Garlic
Box 273 Midway BC V0H 1M0
250-449-2152
garlicfarm.ca

Certified organic garlic for seed.
Breck’s Bulbs
9353 Graham Road West Lorne ON N0L 2P0
800-644-5505 
brecksbulbs.ca
Flower bulbs.

Brother Nature Organic Seeds
1159 Wychbury Ave. Victoria BC V9A 5L1
250-661-2255
www.brothernature.ca
Organic, open-pollinated vegetable seed

Burpee Seeds
(see W. Atlee Burpee Seeds)

Canadian Prairie Garlic Escape
306-736-8373
www.saskgarlic.ca
Chemical-free seed garlic.

Casey’s Heirloom Tomatoes of Airdrie
Airdrie AB
www.caseysheirloomtomatoes.ca
Seeds from open-pollinated tomatoes.

Chiltern Seeds
Crowmarsh Battle Barns,
114 Preston Crowmarsh Wallingford OX10 6SL England
chilternseeds.co.uk
Seeds for vegetables, herbs and ornamentals.

Choked Up
Salmon Arm BC
www.chokedup.ca
Jerusalem Artichokes.

Cochrane Family Seeds
5324 Hwy 289 Upper Stewiacke NS B0N 2P0
902-671-2378
www.cochranefamilyseeds.com
Certified organic, heirloom vegetable, herb and flower seed.

Corn Hill Nursery Ltd.
2700 Rte. 890 Corn Hill NB E4Z 1M2
506-756-3635
www.cornhillnursery.com
Hardy fruit trees, roses and perennials.

D&H Newman
Ripley Ontario
dandhnewman.ca/garlic
30+ varieties of organically grown, heritage garlic.

De Dell Seeds Incorporated
7095 Century Drive
Melbourne ON N0L 1T0
519-264-2676
www.dedellseeds.com
Non-GMO corn hybrids. Offering 37 Non-GMO hybrids, 7 dedicated silage, and the choice of fungicide or insecticide seed treatment, on top of an astounding 10 organic hybrids

Dominion Seed House
(see WH Perron)

Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes
Box 70 Bowden AB T0M 0K0
877-224-3939
Seedpotatoes.ca
Seed potatoes.

Eagleridge Seeds
219 Eagleridge Drive Salt Spring Island BC V8K 2L1
250-537-5677
www.eagleridgeseeds.com
Sustainably grown rare and endangered heirloom seeds including vegetables, herbs, flowers and tomatoes.

Edible Antiques
11 Spencer Street Picton ON K0K 2T0
www.edibleantiques.ca
Open-pollinated, heirloom seeds.

Ellenberger Organic Farm
1607 The Ridge Rd Coe Hill ON K0L 1P0
613-337-8824
www.ellenbergerorganicfarm.com
Certified organic, certified seed potatoes

Eternal Seed
2309 Zilinsky Road Powell River BC V8A 0N8
604-487-1304
eternalseed.ca
Seeds and plants for ?vegetables, flowers and herbs.

Eureka Garlic
6 Rte 233 RR 6 Kensington PEI C0B 1M0
902-836-5180
www.eurekagarlic.ca
Seed garlic.

Evergreen Seed
Various sales reps in Ontario.
evergreenseed.ca
Forage and cover crop seed.

Ferme écomara?chère La
croisée des cultures
229 place du Platin Sainte-Claire G0R 2V0 
www.croiseedescultures.com
Open-pollinated seeds for short seasons.

Florabunda Seeds
Box 38 Keene ON K0L 2G0
705-295-6440
florabundaseeds.com
Florabunda Seeds is dedicated to preserving old species of flowers, vegetables and herbs. Most seeds are organic; all are untreated, non-GMO and non-hybrid. Family-owned business.

Fraser’s Thimble Farms
175 Arbutus Rd. Salt Spring Island BC V8K 1A3
250-537-5788
www.thimblefarms.com
Pacific Northwest native plants.

Full Circle Seeds
PO Box 807 Sooke, BC V9Z 1H8
250-642-3671
fullcircleseeds.com
Locally grown, organic, open-pollinated seed.

Fungi Perfecti
PO Box 7634, Olympia WA 98507
800-780-9126
fungi.com 
Fungal spawn and accessories.

Gardens Plus
136 County Road 4 Peterborough ON K9L 1V6
www.gardensplus.ca
705-742-5918
Hosta and easy-care perennials.

General Seed Company
Various dealers
generalseedcompany.ca
Forage, corn and cover crop seed.

Golden Acres Farm
2579 Line 47, RR #1 Gads Hill ON N0K 1J0
519-656-3152
Certified organic seed garlic.

Golden Bough Tree Farm
Box 29, 900 Napanee Rd. Marlbank ON K0K 2L0
www.goldenboughtrees.ca
Bare-root trees and shrubs for mail-order or pick up.

Good Earth Farms
7636 Island Hwy. Black Creek BC V9J 1G6
250-337-2261
www.goodearthfarms.ca
Amazing naturally grown open-pollinated vegetable, herb and flower seed; 100 per cent grown by us since 2000. 70 varieties. See catalog on website. Bulk available.

Green Barn Farm
2103 blvd. Perrot Notre-Dame-de-l’Ile-Perrot QC J7V 8P4
514-951-9757
greenbarnfarm.ca
Fruit plants and seeds.

Greta’s Organic Gardens
399 River Rd. Ottawa ON K1V 1C9
613-521-8648
seeds-organic.com
Certified organic seed for vegetables and herbs.

Grimo Nut Nursery
979 Lakeshore Rd, RR 3
Niagara-on-the-Lake ON LOS 1JO
See website for seed sales.
www.grimonut.com
Hardy nut trees.

Grim’s Organic Gourmet Garlic
Surrey BC
Gourmetgarlicfarm.ca
Seed garlic.

Grow Wild Native Plant Nursery
3784 Highway #7 Omemee ON K0L 2W0
705-799-2619
nativeplantnursery.ca
Native plants.

Halifax Seed Company
5860 Kane St., Box 8026 STN A Halifax NS B3K 5L8
902-454-7456
halifaxseed.ca
Vegetable, herb and flower seed.

Hardy Fruit Trees Nursery
Box 5754 Sainte-Julienne QC J0K 2T0
514-418-4109
www.hardyfruittrees.ca
Saplings for fruit and nut trees.

Harmonic Herbs
RR #3 Barrhead AB T7N 1N4
www.harmonicherbs.com
Offering gardeners seed for the finest vegetables, herbs and flowers you can grow in short season climates.

Hawthorn Farm Organic Seeds
RR 3, 5961 5th Line Palmerston ON N0G 2P0
519-343-3375
www.hawthornfarm.ca
Certified organic open-pollinated seeds.

Helmers Organic Farm
Pemberton BC
604-894-6618
helmersorganic.com
Organic, certified virus-free seed potatoes

Heritage Harvest Seed
Box 279 Carman MB R0G 0J0
204-745-6489
heritageharvestseed.com
Rare and endangered heirloom/heritage vegetables, flowers, herbs and grain with over 700 varieties. The farm uses organic methods; 95 per cent of seed grown on Canadian farms.

Heritage Seed & Produce
192 Charlie Lane Westport ON K0G 1X0
613-273-2948
heritageseedandproduce.com
Heirloom vegetables.

High Mowing Organic Seeds
76 Quarry Road Wolcott VT 05680 USA
802-472-6174
highmowingseeds.com
Seeds for vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Hole’s Greenhouses & Gardens Ltd
101 Riel Drive St. Albert AB T8N 3X4
780-419-6800
www.holesonline.com
Seeds, saplings and plants.

Hope Seeds
Box 460, 324 St. George Street Annapolis Royal NS B0S1A0
902-286-4673
www.hopeseed.com
Organic, open-pollinated seed for flowers, herbs and vegetables.

Horizon Seeds
Various dealers
1-855-983-7255
horizonseeds.ca
Field crop seeds.

Howard Dill Enterprises
RR 1 400 College Road Windsor NS B0N 2T0
902-798-2728
howarddill.com
Pumpkin seed.

Incredible Seed Company
RR1 Pleasantville NS B0R 1G0
888-851-6620
www.incredibleseeds.ca
More than 400 varieties of high quality, open-pollinated vegetable seed as well as seed for trees, edible flowers, permaculture plants.

Jardin des vie-la-joie
447 11e rang
Sainte-Agathe-de-Lotbinière QC G0S 2A0
438-888-3032
vielajoie.com
Medicinal, ornamental and vegetable seeds.

John Boy Farms
204-882-2751
www.GarlicSeed.ca
Garlic.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds
955 Benton Ave Winslow ME 04901 USA
johnnyseeds.com
Helping growers succeed by providing superior seeds, tools, service and information.

Kitchen Table Seed House
602 Hwy 95 Wolfe Island ON K0H 2Y0
www.kitchentableseedhouse.ca
613-385-8569
“Organic. Short seasons. Productivity. Flavour.”

La ferme coopérative Tourne-Sol
1025 ch. St-Dominique
Les Cèdres QC J7T 1P5
450-452-4271
boutique.fermetournesol.qc.ca
Certified organic vegetables and flower seeds; garlic.

La Finquita
Wallace NS
www.lafinquita.ca
Seeds for wild plants.

Laughing Swan Farm Seeds
Near Kamloops, BC
www.laughingswanfarm.com
Award-winning tomatoes, veggies and herbs.

La Société des plantes
207 rang de l’Embarras
Kamouraska QC G0L 1M0
418-492-2493
www.lasocietedesplantes.com
Organic heirloom seeds.

Le Jardin de Julie
Box 1191 Rimouski (Bic) QC G0L 1B0
www.jardindejulie.com
Seeds for vegetables, herbs and flowers. 

Le potager ornemental de Catherine
678 Rang Bois Franc
St Apollinaire QC G0S 2E0
www.potagerornemental.com
Seeds for open-pollinated vegetables.

Les Semences du Batteux
Lévis QC  418-476-2401
www.lessemencesdubatteux.ca
Seeds for vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Les Jardins de l’écoumène
2855 ch. de l’écoumène Saint-Damien QC J0K 2E0
450-835-1149
www.ecoumene.com
Organic open-pollinated vegetable, grain and herb seeds.

Lindenberg Seeds
803 Princess Ave. Brandon MB R7A 0P5
204-727-0575
lindenbergseeds.ca
Flower and vegetable seeds.

Mapple Farm
129 Beech Hill Road Weldon NB E4H 4N5
mapplefarm.com
Seeds and plant stock for interesting edibles.

Matchbox Garden and Seed Co.
1350 Haldimand Hwy 54 Caledonia ON N3W 1V9
226-920-4974
www.matchboxgarden.ca
Certified organic seeds for vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Metchosin Farm seed
542 Wootton Rd. Metchosin BC V9C 3Z4
metchosinfarm.ca
Transitional organic seeds for heirloom vegetables.

Morgan County Seeds
18761 Kelsay Road Barnett MO 65011-3009
573-378-2655
MorganCountySeeds.com
Organic vegetable and herb seeds.

Mountain Grove Seed Company
Parham ON
www.mountaingroveseedcompany.com
613-876-8383
Organically grown, open-pollinated seeds

Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds
PO Box 80, 118 1st Avenue West, Parkside SK S0J 2A0
306-747-2935
www.sprouting.com
Certified organic seed for sprouting.

Naramata Seed Company
5865 North Naramata Rd. Naramata BC V0H 1N1
bóng đá trực tuyến www.naramataseedco.ca
Heritage vegetable seeds.

Natural Seed Bank
www.seed-bank.ca
Non-GMO, untreated seeds.

Norton Naturals
Eastern Ontario
www.nortonnaturals.com
Planting stock for perennial vegetables.

Norseco
2914 Cure-Labelle Blvd. Laval PQ H7P 5R9
www.norseco.com
514-332-2275
Seed Distributor

Norwegian Creek Farm
Box 45 Midway BC V0H 1M0
www.norwegiancreekfarm.ca
Certified organic garlic bulbs and bulbils. Over 75 varieties, well adapted to Canada’s varied climate. Grown only on the family farm.

Ontario Seed Company (OSC)
Box 7 Waterloo, ON N2J 3Z6
519-886-0557
oscseeds.com
Seeds for vegetables, flowers, forages, cover crops, grasses, native plants, trees and wildflowers. Sells Aimers certified organic seed and native custom seed mixes. Fifth-generation family business.

Opulent
226-678-5368
opulent.ca
Seeds, plants and fungal spawn.

Perfectly Perennial Herbs and Seeds
Box 675 Pouch Cove NL A0A 3L0
www.perfectlyperennial.ca
Seeds for perennial and self-seeding vegetables, herbs and flowers. 

Prairie Garden Seeds
Box 2758 Humboldt SK S0K 2A0
306-682-1475
www.prseeds.ca
Open-pollinated vegetable, flower and grains.

Quality Seeds Ltd.
8400 Huntington Road
Vaughan ON L4L 1A5
905-856-7333 or 1-800- 856-7333
qualityseeds.ca
Forage, turf, cover crop and wildflower seeds.

Quality Seeds West
464 Riverside Road, Abbotsford BC V2S 7M1
604-574-7333/1-888-770-7333 (BC/AB)
www.qualityseedswest.ca
Forage, turf and reclamation seed.

Railway Creek Farm
2601 Cooper Rd., Madoc ON K0K 2K0
613-813-3918
www.railwaycreekfarms.com
Garlic.

Rainbow Seeds
5763 King St., Rte 114, Riverside-Albert NB E4H-4A7
506-882-0913
rainbowseeds.ca
Non-GMO seeds.

Rasa Creek Farm
1871 Trinity Valley Rd.
Lumby BC V0E 2G4
250-547-2077
www.rasacreekfarm.com
50+ varieties of seed garlic.

Ravensong Seeds & Herbals
Box 169 Saanichton BC V8M 2C3
ravensongseeds.com
Medicinal herb seeds.

Rebecca’s Garden
250-727-3788
rebsgarden@shaw.ca
Certified organic heirloom seeds.

Red Lion Farm
Box 473, 8997 North Highway 6
Salmo BC V0G 1Z0
250-509-2300
www.redlionorganic.com
Certified organic seed garlic.

Rhora’s Nut Farm & Nursery
RR 1, 33083 Wills Rd. Wainfleet ON L0S 1V0
905-899-3508
nuttrees.com
Trees and seedlings of nut trees.

Richters Herbs
357 Hwy 47, Goodwood ON L0C 1A0
905-640-6677, 800-668-4372
richters.com
Seeds and plants for herbs and vegetables.

Rupp Seeds
17919 County Road B, Wauseon OH 43567-9458
419-337-1841
Ruppseeds.com
Vegetable seed.

Sage Garden
3410 St Mary’s Rd. Winnipeg, MB R2N 4E2
204-257-2715
sagegarden.ca
Certified organic seeds.

Salt Spring Seeds
Box 444 Ganges, Salt Spring Island BC V8K 2W1
250-537-5269
saltspringseeds.com
Open-pollinated vegetable, grain and herb seeds and garlic.

Samourail
St-Julien QC
samourail.com
Garlic.

Seeds for Food
222 Route 112 Ouest Bishopton QC J0B 1J0
819-832-4969
Farm seeds grown with integrity.

Seeds of Diversity Canada
1-12 Dupont St W Waterloo ON N2L 2X6
226-600-7782
www.seeds.ca

Seeds of IMBOLC 
495 Anderson St S, Fergus ON N1M 1Z8 
519-820-2806 
www.seedsofimbolc.ca 
Locally grown, authentically organic seeds and plants

Select Seedling Nursery Ltd.
Box 92A RR# 3, Saskatoon SK S7K3J6
306-978-1940
Saskatoon berries, shelterbelts, budding understock.

Semences du Portage
3671 Sainte- Catherine Est, Montréal QC H1W 2E7
438-384-4341
semencesduportage.com
Vegetables, medicinal herbs and flowers.

Siloam Orchards
(Slabtown Cider Co.)
Uxbridge ON
Siloamorchards.com
Heirloom fruit trees.

Silver Creek Nursery
2343 Gerber Rd. Wellesley ON N0B 2T0
519-804-6060
silvercreeknursery.ca
From apples to apricots, from pears to peaches, from quince to cherries, bare root fruit trees for home gardeners and small orchards. No synthetic fertilizers or pesticides used.

Soggy Creek Seed
c/o Piebird Farm Sanctuary
113 Chapman’s Landing Rd.
Nipissing Village ON P0H 1W0
705-724-1144
soggycreek.com
Re-named heirloom seeds for vegetables and herbs.

Solana Seeds 
17 place Leger Repentigny QC J6A 5N7
solanaseeds.netfirms.com
Vegetable, flower and exotic plant seeds.

Somerville Seedlings
5884 County Road 13, Box 1445
Everett ON L0M 1J0
1-877-708-7337
treeseedlings.com
Seedlings for trees and bushes.

Speare Seeds
99 John St. N, PO Box 171, Harriston ON N0G 1Z0
519-338-3840
speareseeds.ca
Forage, cover crop and field crop seeds.

Stokes Seeds
296 Collier Rd S, Box 10 Thorold ON L2V 5E9
800-396-9238
stokeseeds.com
Vegetable, herb, flower seed.

Sunshine Farm
2225 Saucier Rd., Kelowna BC V1W 4B8
250-448-1826
sunshinefarm.net
Certified organic seeds for heirloom and unusual vegetables, herbs, grain and flowers. Home to Vocational Services for Adults, Sunshine Farm aspires to epitomize a sustainable family farm which also serves its community.

T&T Seeds Ltd.
Box 1710 Winnipeg MB R3C 3P6
204-895-9962 or 204-895-9964
ttseeds.com
Seeds or rootstock for vegetables, shrubs and fruit trees.

Tasty Acres
4360-30th St NE, Salmon Arm BC V1E 2A3
250-833-4821
tastyacres.ca & tasty acres on Facebook
Certified organic nursery for edible & fruit bearing plants: strawberries, asparagus, raspberries, aronia (chokeberry, not to be confused with chokecherry), blueberries, rhubarb, blackcurrants, blackberries, gooseberries, goji berry and horseradish.

The Artsy Tomato
7463 County Road 56, RR #1, Essa Township ON L0M 1T0
705-424-1934
www.theartsytomato.ca
Heirloom seeds.

The Cutting Veg
Jackson’s Point ON L0E 1L0
647-388-7444
www.thecuttingveg.com
Organic garlic

The Market Garden
810 Catherine St. Victoria BC V9A 3V1
250-384-7023
themarketgarden.ca
Organic heirloom seeds.

The Seed Company by E.W. Gaze
9 Buchanan St. St. John’s NL A1C 5K8
709-722-4590
theseedcompany.ca
Seeds for vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Terra Edibles
Box 164, 535 Ashley St. Foxboro ON K0K 2B0
613-961-0654
terraedibles.ca
Organically grown seeds for heirloom vegetables and herbs. Also lavender products, wild-crafted teas and gardening books. Visit our shop, the Village Green in Foxboro.

Tree Time
204, 9366-49th Street NW, Edmonton AB T6B 2L7
780-472-8878
www.treetime.ca
Woody plants, native plants and shrubs.

Veseys Seeds Ltd.
Box 9000 Charlottetown PEI C1A 8K6
800-363-7333
veseys.com
Since 1939, Vesey’s have provided the gardeners of Canada with an extensive selection of vegetable, flower, herb and organic seeds.

W. Atlee Burpee & Co
300 Park Ave Warminster PA 18974
Burpee.com
Vegetable, herb and flower seeds.

West Coast Seeds
5300 34B Ave. Delta BC V4L 2P1
604-952-8820/1-888-804-8820
westcoastseeds.com
Untreated and non-GMO seeds for 1,100+ varieties of vegetables, fruit, herbs, cover crops, sprouting, microgreens and wildflowers. Committed to sustainable agriculture. Supplying customers with the freshest, fattest, high-germination seed available.

WH Perron (Dominion Seed House)
2914 Curé-Labelle Blvd. Laval QC H7P 5R9
450-682-9071/1-800-723-9071
www.dominion-seed-house.com
Seeds for flowers, vegetables and herbs.

Wild Garden Seed
Box 1509 Philomath OR 97370 USA
541-929-4068
wildgardenseed.com
Certified organic seed for vegetables, herbs, flowers and grain.

Wildrose Heritage Seed Company
Box 355, Station Main
Lethbridge AB T1J 3Y7
403-380-0098
www.wildroseheritageseed.com
Vegetable, herb and flower seed.

William Dam Seeds
279 Hwy 8, RR1, Dundas ON L9H 5E1
905-628-6641
damseeds.com
Seeds for vegetables, flowers, cover crops and small fruit.

Wylie Mycologicals Ltd.
166 South Bass Lake Road
Georgian Bluffs ON N0H 2T0
519-534-1570
www.wyliemycologicals.ca
Specialty mushroom grow blocks.


Being a good customer

Tips for success when ordering seeds

To get the best service, be the best customer you can be. This means being considerate to the seed suppliers. Many of the companies listed in the Small Farm Canada Seed Guide are small, home-based companies run by one individual or a family. Most can provide stellar service and great quality seed but dealing with these small companies is different than ordering a package from Amazon. As one seed supplier said, “It’s a labour of love.”

Keep the following in mind when you order seed and both you and the seed supplier will be happier.

Seed suppliers sell seed not gardening courses

Ever been called from the field by new customers who expect you to give a farm tour and free samples to their grandkids all because they buy a $3 carton of eggs? You don’t want to be that type of customer.

If you are wondering if a tomato is indeterminate or trying to figure out if a bean is pole or bush, check out the seed catalogue. If these questions aren’t answered, feel free to ask the seed supplier. But if you want to learn how to plant peas or when to plant squash, get a book or go to a workshop (Ed. note: or perhaps subscribe to SFC!). Don’t take up their valuable time with basic questions.

Communicate by email

Email is an effective way to communicate with mail order companies because they can choose when to reply. If you do need to call, be sure to phone during business hours (and check the time zone of the company) and keep the call as short as possible.

No guarantees

Seed companies, in general, don’t offer guarantees that the seed will work. Reputable companies (including many small ones) conduct germination tests and will only offer seed with high germination rates. (However, at times, a company may offer seed with low germination rates with a warning and a lower price tag.) As for whether the seed performs as you expect, many variables are at play including how you stored and planted the seed. That said, if a variety has unexpectedly low germination rates and you are positive that it’s nothing you did, feel free to let the seed grower know.

Distinguish between mail order and retail

If a seed company doesn’t mention retail hours, assume it’s a mail order company and not set up to have customers drop in. Even if the business is near your farm, just pay the shipping cost rather than ask to set up a special arrangement.

Fill out the forms carefully

It can cost seed companies a lot of time and money when customers don’t complete forms, particularly when they don’t add and pay the sales tax.

Order ahead

If you order seed a week before planting time, be prepared to be disappointed. Order seed ahead of time but don’t start asking for seed catalogues in November and December. Seed growers need to harvest seed, thresh and process seed, and do germination tests before preparing the seed catalogue. This all takes time. If you don’t receive a seed catalogue by February, feel free to ask the company for one or look online.

Understand that catalogues cost money

If you’re at a Seedy Saturday, don’t pick up seed catalogues that you don’t need or already have at home. If you don’t mind using the Internet, just order online or ask for a catalogue to be emailed to you.


Learning to save seed

Seed saving is a hot topic in farming right now and learning opportunities abound, largely thanks to the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. You can find out about the whole program at www.seedsecurity.ca. The program is largely provided through regional initiatives.

BC: BC Seeds is a project of FarmFolk CityFolk and the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. The program offers training through mentorships, workshops and field days; on-farm research and public outreach. Learn more at www.bcseeds.org.

Prairies: The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security works with Organic Alberta, the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative and the Northern Manitoba Food, Culture and Community Collaborative. These collaborations involve on-farm research and breeding trials with a focus on grain crops.

Ontario: Seeds of Diversity Canada works closely with the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. Ontario’s Vegetable Seed Producers Network (seeds.ca/organic-seeds/seed-grower-network) focuses on building up the supply of seed adapted to regional growing conditions. On-farm training and research is provided through collaborations with the Ecological Farmers of Ontario, Farms at Work and Just Food.

Quebec: USC Canada hosts the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security in Quebec. Activities include Seedy Saturdays, plant breeding for wheat, oats, potato and corn, and a seed saving mentorship program.

Atlantic Canada: The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security is delivered by the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN, acornorganic.org). This program advances biodiversity conservation, on-farm research and training opportunities to support farmers in increasing the quality, quantity and diversity of seed produced locally and organically. Key programs in Atlantic Canada include farm field days and workshops, a farmer-to-farmer seed mentorship program, plant breeding  and support for the Atlantic Canada Regional Seed Bank. Check out ACORN’s new “Atlantic Grown Seed” local seed directory at acornorganic.org/localseed.


Cutting seed costs

Even though a package of seed may cost only a few dollars, the costs add up. Ways to reduce seed costs include the following.

1. Order with friends

If you want to buy seeds from several companies, you can end up spending a lot of money on shipping. By placing the order with friends, you can split the shipping costs. You can reduce costs even more if you want to share packets of seeds, but dividing seeds into separate packages can be time-consuming.

2. Buy in bulk

Many companies, particularly the larger ones, offer volume discounts. If you buy enough seed for a few years at a time, you don’t have to pay shipping costs each year and you can get a lower price per seed. However, germination rates can drop dramatically from one year to the next for certain crops, particularly onions and leeks, or if seed is stored under poor conditions. However well-stored seed can last for several years and still have reasonable germination rates and vigour (see p # for tips).

3. Save your own seed (See above)


Sharing seed

Of Seedy Saturday and more . . .

We hear a lot about the new ‘sharing economy,’ such as Uber and Airbnb. With seeds, the sharing economy has been going on for centuries, if not millennia. Seed savers give away, barter or sell seeds. The venue can be informal, just friends handing over seeds at the kitchen table or over a garden fence. Many times, I’ve left people’s homes and gardens holding a paper bag or envelope of seeds. Likewise, I often give seeds to visitors to my garden or house.

Seed sharing can be a bit more formal. Across Canada from late fall to late spring, Seedy Saturdays and Seedy Sundays can be found. In community halls, church basements and farmers markets, people give away, barter or sell the seed they have grown themselves. Often the vendors include local seed companies, particularly small businesses that specialize in open-pollinated seeds. At many Seedy events, there are also workshops on how to garden and how to save seed.

For customers, a Seedy Saturday can be a great place to find locally adapted varieties that perform well in your area. You can also find rare treasures — varieties that aren’t commercially available. Best of all, perhaps, you can meet other gardeners and seed savers.

The downside to Seedy Saturdays is the level of seed saving expertise varies among vendors/sharers. So, it’s buyer beware. You might end up with seed with low germination rate or seed that doesn’t breed true. For example, seed labelled “Acorn squash” might produce stringy bland small squash that are actually a cross of spaghetti squash, pumpkin and acorn squash, or a quarter of the plants from seeds labelled “snow peas” might have the tough pods of shelling peas.

As a seed grower, these events offer a wonderful opportunity to share your wealth of seeds. Once you start saving seeds, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the quantity of seed you save. (Picture a tomato or a cucumber . . . Imagine saving seed from a dozen fruit and  you’ll see what I mean.)

To be a responsible seed sharer, make sure you learn how to save quality seed. Respect the “isolation distances” of each crop — how far apart you should plant two varieties to prevent cross-pollination. Find out how and when to harvest seed and how to store it. Lastly, conduct germination tests to see if the seed is viable before you sell it or even give it away. If the germination rates are lower than 90 per cent, let people know and be generous with the quantity.

To find a Seedy Saturday or Sunday near you, check out the listings at seeds.ca/events.

~Janet Wallace


Storing seed

When you store seed, whether store-bought or home-grown, you want to keep it dormant as long as possible. Think about what conditions you provide to get seeds to germinate and then do the opposite. Keep seed in a cool, dry and dark place. Put the seed in containers that resist moisture and mice. Glass, metal or hard plastic bottles, canisters and/or totes work well. Label seed packets with the year you grew or bought the seed, so you can use the oldest seed first.

For long-term storage, consider putting seeds in a fridge or freezer in airtight containers (e.g., Ziploc bags). Place them at the back of the fridge so they don’t suffer from temperature fluctuations when you open and close the door. The extreme cold of the freezer will keep the seeds longer but you risk exposing the seeds to moisture when you take them out of the freezer. Repeated freezing and thawing will do more damage to your seeds than leaving them at room temperature. If you’re storing several years worth of one type of seed in the freezer, consider dividing it into packages with just enough seed for one year. Let the seed acclimate to room temperature before planting.