by Mark and Ben Cullen
When we think of precious commodities, we think of gold, silver, and garden seeds.
Forgive us for taking liberty with a product category that is near and dear, seeing as one of the great growth industries during the pandemic has been flower and vegetable seeds. Especially seeds for food plants.
The growth of this category was aggressive pre-pandemic, but now demand has advanced by 10 years in one year. Recently, Mark placed his order online for seeds only to find that some of his favourite varieties were sold out. Hello, Swiss Chard, Bright Lights Mix, where are you?
If there is a piece of ground or an empty planter in your life that is begging for a tomato plant or some fresh carrots to be grown in them, now is the best time to acquire the seeds that you will need to be successful.
Here are our favourite online seed companies:
Hawthorne Farm Organic Selected Seeds. Mark orders about $200 worth of seeds from this family owned, Ontario business. They pride themselves in non-GMO product. The website is easy to navigate with each category neatly segregated. Your order is tallied as you go: no surprises. www.hawthornefarm.ca
Floribunda Seeds. Non-GMO, non hybrid, untreated, heirloom seeds. If one of your gardening goals is to be a sustainable gardener, Floribunda is a good place to start. Ontario based. www.florabundaseeds.com
Ontario Seed Company. OSC supplies many of the seed racks that you find at garden retailers. They are a large volume, quality supplier. If you are having trouble finding a specific veggie or flower variety, go to their site and have a look. www.oscseeds.com
William Dam Seeds in Dundas Ontario. Often seeds are chemically treated to preserve them and maximize germination rates, not so at Dam Seeds. Dam Seeds provides a colourful, easy to navigate website and easy payment options. They also trial many of their seeds to prove their performance before they offer them for sale. A favourite. www.damseeds.com
Veseys. Our #1 pick outside of Ontario. This Prince Edward Island family-run business features a long list of offerings including many hard-to-find varieties of vegetables. We can recommend that you visit their trial gardens if you visit P.E.I. in the summer. We have been incredibly happy with the quality of their fruit plants, including raspberries, strawberries and apple trees, in addition to their seed offering. www.veseys.com
Annapolis Seeds. We recommend that you go online and check them out just for the stories if nothing else. Their seeds are organic, non-GMO and “grown with love”. When you visit their website homepage, there is a popup story that goes like this, “Regular customers may have noticed; we raised our prices this season, from 3.00 to 3.50. Seeds had been 3.00 since we began back in 2008. Hope you don’t mind our updated price (gotta keep up with the times).”
We think that anyone who apologizes for a modest price increase, after 13 years of holding prices, deserves a second look. They have an extensive selection of Maritime sourced food plant seeds and ornamentals. Plus, they offer tutorials on how to grow a long list of plants including some that you may not have considered for your own garden, including peanuts. Mark has his order in. www.annopolisseeds.com
Kids and seeds. We think that there is a miracle at work within every garden seed. A life that is ready to burst out of its shell and be set free. It is you, the gardener who holds the key to its life as a plant.
The people who run the not-for-profit Plant a Seed and See What Grows Foundation must agree with us as they provide a great source of educational resources for children ages 5 to 10. They offer books, produced in-house for educational purposes, seeds, instructional guides and workbooks for at home and at-school students. Low or no cost.
Check them out at www.seewhatgrows.org for details. Mark has accessed their resources and is now sharing them with his 4- and 5-year-old grand kids.
Garden seeds: the new gold and silver.
Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author, broadcaster, tree advocate and Member of the Order of Canada. His son Ben is a fourth-generation urban gardener and graduate of University of Guelph and Dalhousie University in Halifax. Follow them at markcullen.com, @markcullengardening, and on Facebook.