With Spring right around the corner you may be looking for some options of seeds to purchase. I'm a large advocate for supporting local companies and wanted to highlight some California based seed companies. I have a few things that I look for when I'm searching for a seed company.
Here's the list in order of importance to me:
1. Heirloom seeds - Heirlooms are old varieties that are unpatented and able to be saved carefully year after year and get the same crop. Not to mention if you collect seeds long enough, they adapt to your climate and pests.
2. Local/ small business - I love supporting local or small businesses or better yet a small local business because I feel more connected. That's the simple answer. I feel like I get more immediate personal responses with small businesses. Local businesses are also fun to follow because you have the chance to go and visit their storefronts if they have them or see them at local events.
3. Pricing - I like to know that I'm getting a good deal. I have a hard time paying $5 for 5 seeds, even if the sunflowers are super cool.
4. Organic - Although I am not as particular on this last one. I am an organic gardener. Starting with an organic source if preferred, but I do feel that growing the plants organically is sufficient enough.
5. Variety - There are SO MANY different varieties of tomatoes, carrots, cucumber and life is too short to limit your options to only certain varieties. Sure, we all have our favorites, but whose to say you can't find a new one.
BONUS: User friendly ordering. I am a millennial so as it would be, I don't particularly like when the only way to obtain seeds is by catalog ordering or phone orders. I'm not against it, online us just friendly.
Without further ado, I have selected 6 seed companies that I would like to highlight this year. While I appreciate all 6 companies, I have ranked them from Good to Better. Starting the the good-est.
Located in Sonoma County is the oldest certified organic nursery in the United States. They offer more than seeds including garden accessories and plants. With 26 years of expirience, they develop new guidelines for other organic nurseries. In comparison to the number of hybrids seeds, they do not offer as many heirloom seeds. They only other thing is that their website is not as user friendly as I would like it to be. They were also missing some traditional varieties that I used in my price evaluation, such as Roma tomatoes. www.naturalgardening.com
Kitazawa Seed Company is based out of Oakland is one of the coolest, most different companies that I have stumbled upon. If I'm not mistaken they are the oldest seed company on the list. They specialize in providing Asian Vegetable seeds, offering 500 Japanese heirloom vegetables. If you are interested in trying some varieties that you maybe haven't seen before. Check them out, they also have recipes. www.kitazawaseed.com.
Renee's Garden, I believe is the most well known on this list. My very first seeds were Renee's Alpine Strawberry seeds. The collection that Renee's has to offer is selected from all around the world. They strive for quality and bring the seeds and grow them in different test gardens in the US to ensure that they thrive in most of the US zones. They have a good selection of organic and heirloom varieties. Check them out here: www.reneesgarden.com/
*The Greenery (my localest nursery) also carries Renee’s Garden Seeds located at 742 E. Olive Ave, Turlock, CA 95380
The Living Seed Company is the newest seed company on the list was founded just 8 years ago by a husband and wife duo. The company is based out of Point Reyes Station, because of that all of their seeds do very well in coastal climates, but most do well in diverse climates. I like this company because they offer lots of organic and heirloom varieties, as one of their mission's is for people to preserve old varieties throughout generations. They want people to save seeds and for a seed company to do that I think is absolutely amazing! You can visit their website here: www.livingseedcompany.com
Redwood Seeds was founded in 2009, this started as a hobby and flourished into a business. Their farm is located in the Lassen Foothills. All of their seeds are organic and many are open pollinated and heirloom, meaning that they all can be saved by gardeners. I like that they seek out heirlooms that grow in any of California's climates. They put it well, "We keep in mind the high mountains, hot valleys and coastal climates with many heat tolerant and short season varieties." Check them out here: www.redwoodseeds.net
Sustainable Seed Company is probably my favorite on this list. Sustainable Seed Company checks all the boxes in what I look for in a seed company. They have 875 varieties of Organic and Heirloom seeds. They not only offer seeds that gardeners can save, they not only advocate that gardeners should, they provided many tools so that gardeners can learn how to preserve the heirlooms they seek out. They were founded in 2008 and are located in Chico. sustainableseedco.com/
Below I have a chart with the price per seed. I'll be honest this is crude at best. Seed packets vary in size and variety. Because the price and #of seeds varies I had to price per seed. Some seeds however use weight rather than a count. I used this website to further guesstimate the price per seed. I tried to find Roma Tomato, Nantes Carrot, White Spanish Onion, Blue Lake Green Bean, Bantam Corn, Jack O' Lantern Pumpkin, Ruby Red Swiss Chard. Any potatoes and any strawberries as I knew it would be unlikely that I was going to find a company offering them.
I do not believe that seeds should solely be chosen based on price. Companies with set prices tend to get my business. For example:
Sustainable seed company has most of there seeds for $2.49/ organic $2.99
Renee's offers a lot of their seeds for $2.99
Redwood Organic Seeds offer all of their seeds for $2.75
Kitazawa offer majority of their seeds at $4.00
Living Seed Company has all their seeds listed either at $3.00 or $4.00
The Natural Gardening Company however fluctuate from packet to packet.
In my final assessment, I love all of these seed companies. I hope to find more companies to add to the list next year that check more of the boxes and to familiarize myself better with all of the companies. I believe that local companies should get more recognition than they get. You should look up seed companies that are local to your area. Huge thank you to Grow Like Grandad, who inspired me to write this article based on his far more thorough pricing analysis of major seed companies in the UK. You can read his Article here. Vegetable Seeds – Which Supplier is Cheapest in 2019?
Let me know what your favorite seed company is. You can reach me on any of my socials below:
*Some of the link above are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase