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Seed Orders : Many Plants, Many Prices

by | Jan 23, 2019 | Food, GARDENING | 4 comments

Seed Orders: Are You confused yet?

So the naked pumpkin seeds I’ve been buying at Costco in bags aren’t new. I just haven’t noticed them listed in seed catalogues before. Or at least they haven’t caught my attention before. Now I am seeing Naked Bear Pumpkin, Lady Godiva and Pepitas everywhere. So obviously I need to try it. 

And the Juliet tomatoes that I just finished eating in salad on January 20, 2019 (from my fall 2018 harvest) are available in lots of places too so I can find them easily enough But how did I miss the very similar sounding Valentine (also a tiny Roma)? I might need to add that tomato to my list. It’s a new gardening year and gardeners everywhere are doing the same thing. Facing the difficult challenge of choice when ordering seeds for spring crops.

On January 20 we ate our last Juliet Tomatoes in this great garden salad. Pictured here is the salad with RedBor Kale, grated carrots and the famous – if withered – Juliet tomatoes. A treat down to the last fruit gobbled up and gone.

The research has just begun and I am looking for all my old favourites (Juliet tomatoes, Susanna cauliflower and Tiara cabbage) plus a few new additions (Jade Beans, Gleam Nasturtium and naked seed pumpkins). This doesn’t mean I am throwing out the baby with the bathwater. No way. I am growing my favourite vegetables like Oregon Giant peas both as micro-greens and garden peas as usual but I’m adding a few extras suggested to me by online friends (read Facebook) and powerfully persuasive catalogue descriptions.

Last year one of the best new tomatoes I tried was the AAS (All America Selection) Red Racer tomato given to me by the Stokes seed company. It was a prize winner at the fair in my home town and  also in Cochrane, Alberta where one of the plants, given to a participant in one of my Calgary classes, who told me it was her first ripe tomato of the year.

Oregon Giant peas are edible pod peas that grow huge (up to 5″ long) and are open pollinated so you can save the seed every year – this also makes them cheap buy.

I prefer to buy organic seeds so I lean towards catalogues that spell this out (like William Dam seeds.) This way you will not get any surprises – like pink fungicide-drenched beans and corn. GMO-free is a given with organic. And organic also means the farmer has used methods to save his soil. This is critical.

And speaking of soil I heard this week on CBC radio that the Prosecco Region of NE Italy is responsible for massive soil erosion and it is a growing problem because of the steepness of the area, the soil type, the lack of cover crop and the way rain pounds down and erodes the soil. This is bad news for the growing International population that loves this sparkling wine. Lucky for me I tasted a neighbour’s homemade Sparkling Pear wine and I know I have a comparable and more local product to rely on if Italy’s Prosecco region loses all her soil.

So seeds need to be ordered and gardeners are confused by the cost differences and numbers of varieties. I suggest you order something that appeals to you personally. This is why I ordered the Gleam nasturtiums without even noticing I was being charged $9.50 US for delivery of two packets of seeds. Of course the pale blue China Asters look beautiful too and together it will be a knock-out combo but wow – the cost of delivery and exchange difference means I paid a lot for these 10 nasturtium seeds.

I ordered Gleam Nasturtium when I saw the beautiful photo of the blush-coloured peach blooms online. And then I saw the bill for shipping. Yikes.

The cost of shipping two packs of flower seeds to me from the US was a shocking $9.50. Lucky there was no GST or PST because the seeds came from Washington State.

My Facebook friend Margo reminded me that the cost of seeds is sometimes all about the cost of shipping and the small Canadian company T & T seeds only charges two toonies for shipping 10 packets or less. This did make a huge difference when I ordered my Sweetness Hybrid carrot seeds from them. But I noticed a bit too late that my recent order which included 5 packets of seeds and two “sundry” items (Pine Strawberries and 2 Kozy Coats) meant my cost of shipping for the follow-up order was $20.90 so I obviously missed something in the fine print there. And life is all about the fine print!

I have made a chart of some of the seeds I’ll be ordering this year so you can see the price variation from different seed companies but as you can see the shipping may be your biggest cost. I wanted to order rigid seed flats from Johnny’s in the USA because I use them with my grow lights and 3 got left behind when we moved. The flats only came in packs of six and the cost to ship six to my house was going to be $75.00. So I decided not to order. 

So it is spring time, not lotto winning time. Gardeners have to make choices but if I can leave you with one word of advice here it is. Turn off netflix for one evening and gather around your computer or seed catalogues and read the descriptions. Choose something you are passionate about and get it ordered soon. Some companies run out of seed before the big spring rush begins. Feel free to order my favourites and let me know what you think of them when they grow but order something just for yourself. And have fun. Every year gardeners discover the miracle of seed to dinner that comes when you start with a simple seed and grow from there.

This Susanna cauliflower was picked in November and was a huge treat for three evening meals. It is a hybrid so I have to order fresh seed every year.


Seeding and transplanting is an all-age event. This is my mother’s hand a few years ago when she was still a young 90.

HERE IS A QUICK COMPARISON LIST I prepared in case you wonder what I am ordering or what the variation in cost is between the same or similar plants from different suppliers. Remember Margo’s famous last word! The shipping can add a fortune so read the fine print before you place orders!


PS Do you have questions about Gardening? Join in the conversation on my facebook live event every Monday by clicking right HERE.


 Donna Balzer is the Brand Ambassador for BCGreenhouse Builders and she has two greenhouses in her big backyard.

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  1. Thanks Amanda! Good tips! I have not ordered from Heritage Seed in Manitoba but I do get seeds from a similar family in Alberta: Wildrose Heritage Seed. So many good choices!

  2. Hi Donna, have you ever ordered from Heritage Harvest Seeds out of Manitoba? They have a really great variety of open-pollinated, heirloom seeds and I find their shipping quite reasonable. For seed starting flats, have you tried looking at a grower supply store? Since cannabis is legal now, I find there are a lot more of these and there costs are quite reasonable. I went to Incredigrow here in Calgary, and they had a great selection and were very helpful.

  3. Yes- sad but true. What is your favourite supplier now? Who do you find gives the best deal on shipping?

  4. I know EXACTLY what you mean! The cost of shipping is crazy in some instances – I recall that High Mowing used to ship free, even to Canada, but a couple of years ago all that changed and they started to charge a whopping $15US(!!!) shipping fee. I would love to order seeds from them, but needless to say, there are not many varieties (if any) that I would be willing to pay that kind of premium on!

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