Dumb question about seeds

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Shygal, Jun 24, 2004.

  1. Shygal

    Shygal Unreality star Supporter

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    Hi all,

    I ordered seeds this spring from Johnny's seeds in Maine, and Veseys seeds in Canada. ALL the Johnnys seeds have germinated, grown, etc...but the Veseys seeds? Terrible. Maybe 2 out of every 10 seeds have germinated, of EVERY variety. Cucumbers, chard, pole beans, spinach, carrots, everything I bought from Veseys has had terrible germination and has grown terribly when it does sprout.

    I was thinking that possibly one variety could have a bad year, but every different type of vegetable I got from them all doing it at the same time? So here is my dumb question.
    With the Homeland Security and airport security , etc since 9/11, do they xray every package that comes into the US from Canada now? Is it possible that xrays or whatever they do to packages nowadays has done something to the seeds? Its the only thing I can come up with to cause such total failure with their seeds.
     
  2. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    Usally they send samples to a Lab,that checks Germination.I know if I had dought on Seed i might send it to 2 different Labs.It might just be old Seed.

    big rockpile
     

  3. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Shygal, I'm certainly not the wisest gardener here by a long shot but I would suggest buying your seeds as close to locally as you possibly can. I find that if I buy from a location that mirrors my own growing situation or is as close as I can get, I have more success. Depending on what part of Canada your seeds came from could have some impact on their performance. Most of our seeds are expected to perform in a very short growing season so they need a certain ground temp. to germinate (to prevent late spring frosts from killing) and our moisture levels vary a lot over short distances. I can buy cheaper seeds anywhere but I find that if I spend a bit more and buy from a place producing seeds within 60 miles of me, I have a good chance of having a good crop. I look at all the wonderful seeds that many of my US catalogues offer and I find myself longing for the variety but they just don't work for me. I hope I've shed some light on a possible reason for you lack of success with them.
     
  4. Shygal

    Shygal Unreality star Supporter

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    wr, that was a lot of the reason I bought them from Veseys (they are on PEI), because we have the same short growing season on the mountain in Vermont here. :( Its possible thats what happened, but I have bought from them before years ago and never had the problem as this year.
     
  5. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Why don't you email them and ask them about it?
     
  6. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    Johnny's is a good company, but expensive. We have another seed company here in Maine called Fedco, and that's where I get my seeds from. They're old fashioned-you have to place your order by fax or mail, but their product is solid and waaay cheaper than Johnny's. Like you, I have a short growing season, so I choose local companies.

    www.fedcoseeds.com
     
  7. Idahofarmergal

    Idahofarmergal Well-Known Member

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    I order from both Johnny's and Fedco, and I find that although Fedco seed is usually vigorous, Johnny's is always, always, always the absolute best quality you can buy, especially for a home gardener. All of the best seed stock is sold for top dollar to commercial seed companies, as commercial growers know when they've been duped and don't blame the weather, etc. They are also willing to pay for it because bad germination can break them. The home gardener often gets the "sweepings off the seed room floor." Seed companies that cater to home gardeners often are not even offered commercial quality seed by the big seed brokerage companies, and so must purchase inferior quality. Some, such as all the companies in the HPS/Jung family now, are all about advertising and glossy pictures, but don't care a wit about quality seed. They know that home gardeners will blame the weather or their own lack of experience for poor germination. Sometimes excellent quality seed is available at a price that they are willing to pay, and so you get good stuff from them. Then you blame yourself for the bad stuff because some of their seed was good.

    Our government has set minimum germination standards that seed companies must meet to sell seed. They are quite low. Also, the companies do their own testing (!), and they do so in labratory conditions. The germination you experience in your garden is usually way below what they achieve in their lab. No commercial grower will purchase seed at the government minimum. Commercial quality seed tests way above the government minimum, and a farmer smiles when a seed broker offers him a high germ seed lot. Home gardener seed companies won't even tell you the germ test percentage of a seed lot.

    So, this is getting lengthy, but I hope lots of people read it and understand that you often get what you pay for when it comes to seed. A seed is not a seed is not a seed. Johnny's seed is the best commercial quality, and that is why it costs more. I have ordered hundreds of packets of seed from them over the years, and only once recieved a bad lot. They replaced it and refunded my money, no questions asked. Try that with Vesey's!

    Another consistantly excellent seed source that sells commercial quality is Territorial Seed Company. They also specialize in cold soil, cold night tolerant varieties. I am always disappointed when I order seed form any other companies than Johnny's and Territorial. They have spoiled me rotten with their quality and customer service.

    Fedco is an awesome company that offers varieties that you cannot find anywhere else. They are concerned with quality, but also are focused on helping small farmers survive by purchasing seed from them, and maintaining lots of unusual open polinated varieties. They are creating a network of small farm seed growers. Very cool! So, you aften get top quality seed from them, but sometimes they do sacrifice quality for other purposes. I order from them because I appreciate what they are doing and love some of their exclusive varieties, but don't expect the best seed from them.

    Check out gardenwatchdog.com before you purchase from any new seed company or nursery.
     
  8. Idahofarmergal

    Idahofarmergal Well-Known Member

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    Oops, forgot to mention that seed is not being irradiated in shipping. There was a threat of this at one time, but the seed companies successfully fought it. Had it been irradiated, you would have zero germination.