I mentioned in a post last week that this was the time to start ordering seeds for Spring planting.  I tried a new company this year, looking to support local sustainable suppliers.  The company I tried was the Sustainable Seed Company, and I am rather disappointed.   Here are the things I noticed, and I will be comparing them with, whose quality I am always pleased with.


Take a look at this first photo for comparison.  Both are parsnip seeds, a vegetable we have recently fallen in love with.  The package on the left was from Gourmet Seed, and the one on the right from Sustainable Seed.  Observe the packaging.  One is in a protective sealed mylar that will preserve the seeds for years without exposing them to gains or loss of moisture.  The other is in printed paper, which has practically no protective qualities. 

Now, the obvious difference is size!  The packet from Gourmet Seed contains 25 grams of seeds and the other 2 grams.  While this packet from Gourmet Seeds cost $6.95, it contains over EIGHT TIMES more seeds than the other.  The other cost $2.75, (as of today’s blog it is on sale) and you can see that for the extra $3.00 the Gourmet Seed cost is the winner.   Even if I don’t use all the seeds one year, I can still reseal it with the built-in zip seal and these will keep.

Which brings me to the next issue.  I also ordered a pound of winter wheat seed from Sustainable Seeds, and look at the date!


These were packaged for 2013, which means they were grown the year before.  Winter wheat is planted in the fall and harvested the following spring in July in the North or as early as May in the South.  Since these are dated March, it means they were harvested the year before.  These are two-year old seeds!  Another of the seed packets I received from them is also stamped “packed for 2013.” 

When ordering seeds, it is important to watch for companies that offer quality and back up that committment consistently. 


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4 Responses to “Seeds”

  1. Farmer John
    March 10, 2014 at 2:37 PM #

    Hi I just saw your comment and I was very disappointed. I don’t feel we got a fair shake…I own Sustainable Seed Co. Sounds like there is some confusion as well. Let me start with the parsnip. You paid for a small package for $2.29 (not $2.75 that is market $). If you would have chose the 1oz package you would have gotten a few grams more seed and saved a few dollars over Gourmet Seed. Our price for that is $4.95 instead of $6.95 The package…yes mylar stores better, but we don’t use it for environmental reasons. All of our pkgs are compostable and made of reused consumer paper. OK…the wheat seed. That date on the package is the last time the seed was germ tested. We test all seed lots every 12 months or more if warranted. Yes, seed is often grown and stored for 1-2 years depending on the type. We keep all our seed in refrigeration in order to keep the germ high. We sell over 1800 var. You can only grow or contract for some many types every year. So they get rotated and some only get grown every two years. As long as it meets high germ standards it is great! This is a common practice in the seed industry. I looked up your order and it shipped in 24 hours. We work very hard for customer commitment so your comments really do effect us. We are a small family owned company and I personally grow a great deal of the seeds with my own hands. Very different from Gourmet Seed that owns many different seed companies. I hope all this makes sense. If you would like me to call you please let me know. I want to make sure you do understand all this and that you do have a great experience with our company. I stand behind what I grow and its very important to me that you are happy. If not, what can I do to make it right? Thank you, Farmer John

    • Meduseld
      March 10, 2014 at 2:55 PM #

      I do feel that my assessment was fair. I could not find my receipt and looked on your website for the cost. Even at the sale price, one receives less than one-tenth of the seed for one third of the price. As far as the date on the wheat, it is two year old wheat, and should not be sold as 2014 seed. Perhaps concentrating on fewer varieties with fresher dates would be advantageous. For example, Jung seed catalog sells their year-old seed at a discount. I have never received old seed from Gourmetseed even though having placed nearly a dozen orders, and my first order with your company, I received two.

      • Farmer John
        March 10, 2014 at 3:11 PM #

        Hi, there are two different dates we are talking about here. One date is the packaged date. That is Federally mandated on seed packets. The seed in that package can be any age, it must meet federal germ standards and it must be labeled for the current year…which is 2014. All seed companies do this. It might give the appearance that was grown that year, but that many not be true. The other date in the case of the wheat is when we last germ tested it. I can see where this is confusing and tells me we should change our package design. I’m very sorry for the confusion. Can I offer you a $25 gift certificate to give us another try?

        • Meduseld
          March 11, 2014 at 8:34 AM #

          Hi Farmer John: Nice of you to be so earnest about clearing this up. I can only go by the date on the package – there is only one date. Thanks for the gift certificate offer. Don’t worry about it. Instead, why dont I update this blog that your willing to offer a discount to any of our readers who want to give you a try? Do you have a discount code or some system like that?

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