Thursday, 6 January 2011

New year, new seeds: help!

by Francesca

salads 1

New Year, new seeds: that's is my motto for 2011. As I look forward to a brand new season in my garden, waiting for that magic moment to start working out there, I've started to plan what I want to grow this season. I've decided to have a go at growing some new crops, including a few that are a little unusual.

However, I'm in a bit of a bind, because I can't find these unusual seeds in local stores. Even the seeds for some crops that once were common in my area, are now impossible to find. Such as chickpeas, which are still very popular in the local cuisine (and with our family!), but which no one grows anymore around here.

So I started looking at gardening and seed catalogs, in Italy, Europe and beyond. I want to compile a list of best international gardening and seed catalogs, which I'll make available through this blog. It should be a useful resource to many gardeners who are trying to locate specific, lesser-known seeds, or to find the best sellers or prices.

And here I'd like to ask you readers for your help. Are you a gardener, anywhere in the world? Where do you buy your seeds? Please tell me! Just leave a link to your favorite seed catalog in the comment section below, or send me an email (fuoriborgo at gmail dot com).

Thank you!


Oya's Daughter said...

Chilli Seeds - it is next to impossible to find decent chillies in the UK, and I desperately missed the chillies from the US Southwest, but lo and behold, this is one of the few companies which offers a rather dizzying amount of peppers. They also have some great toms as well and I've ordered both from them for several years. I was rather gutted they switched from dried chillies to chilli powder (inferior flavour IMO) but still the sheer amount of varieties they offer means you can easily dry your own. These go from mild and sweet to "Oh gods I'm eating FIIIIRE!" heat. I grew all my toms and peppers from seed from this company and had really good results in both, so hoping to do so again.

The website looks like it's being revised for the new year and there's a fair few broken links but here's the link to the chillies:

And then the link to the toms:

meemsnyc said...

I've been buying my seeds at Sustainable Seed company. They have great varieties of heirlooms.

Rachel said...

Baker Creek Heirlooms:

Seed Savers Exchange:

louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife said...

My next seeds will come from Real Seeds -

I've heard lots of good things about them from various people - and I love that they encourage at-home seed saving, including giving instructions on how to do it in many cases.

They have all the regulars - but interesting, heirloom strains of them (including some of the last-seeds-on-earth available of certain types, eg the tamra cucumber). And they also have seeds which are very unusual for the UK - like achocha, exploding cucumbers (!) and yacon root.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I recently discovered this blog and LOVE what I've read so far.

I am from Ohio USA and we typically purchase burpee seeds from the store and have always had good luck with them. Here is their website


Patty S. said...

Seeds from Italy/Grow Italian:

These are beautiful, beautiful Franchi seeds - the packets are very reasonably priced, they contain 3 or 4 times the normal amount of seeds that most North American seed suppliers provide, and they're tested on the East Coast and shipped everywhere. Tomatoes, Tuscan kale, squash, basil, you name it - I've bought seeds from this gentleman for 2 years straight now (mostly because the packets are stunningly beautiful!!!) but they perform very well, even in my Zone 3A climate!

Elsie said...

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for the mid Atlantic area of the US. Find them at awesome old varieties

Marianne said...

chickpeas are seeds. you can plant them! I sprout them for eating so I know they're viable.

Francesca said...

@ Marianne - I tried that several times: I soaked my dry chickpeas, they sprouted, I transplanted them, but they didn't grow in soil at all. I don't know enough about how, and at what stage, especially, they get harvested (and packaged), but eventually I decided that the dry chickpeas I buy at the grocery store are probably not equal to those that germinate and grow into plants. However, as far as chickpeas are concerned, I have found an online (Italian) seller here:

Anne said...

In australia you can get good heirloom seeds from the diggers club.
they have a good variety, havent seen chickpeas though.

Justin said...

Pine View Farm in Scituate, RI recently (last season) started selling imported Italian Heirloom seeds and seedlings. I bought a few for my garden and I was quite pleased (biggest San Marzano's you've ever seen). Perhaps if you contacted them, they'd share their seed source or locate what you're looking for and sell the seeds to you:

Katie said...

If I can't find it locally, I either use Richters or eBay

dixiebelle said...

Not sure which seed companies would ship international? In Australia, I use


I highly recommend both to any Aussie growers (in certain states) for their fabulous range of heirloom & unique seeds. I just added to my seed stash the other day, some new cool weather seeds!

linda said...

I'm in the U.S. and was getting them from one company but due to a recent scandal, I'm going with other companies this year.
Fedco and Johnny Scheepers are both companies that I have used and was happy with so will continue to use them. However, I also am tapping into local and online seed breeders for heirlooms that I can't find easily this year.

Annie said...

I'm in Texas and I order from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds(, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, The Seed Savers Exchange (, and Johnny's Select Seeds

rhonda jean said...

Hi Francesca, this is a wonderful idea. Thank you.

I recommend and Both are close to where I live, both are excellent and ethical suppliers. Eden seeds have chickpeas.

Toña said...

I'm in Oregon and we get ours from Territorial Seed Company -
Good luck with the chickpeas!

And Sow My Garden Grows said...

We have been purchasing our seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Store in Petaluma. Or from our local garden centers - but we LOVE Baker Creek.

Marc said... is my choice in florida. family operation, organic, friendly, and helpful. good luck!

Tiffany Jewelry said...

you have a garden where can sow vegetable, fruit, flower, that is great.

Leah Bayaka said...

Hi, I just happened to read this blog entry:

It has a list of seed companies she prefers

Mrs. Maker said...

I was so excited recently to find this heirloom seed company right here in friendly Manitoba. I'll be ording all my seeds through them this year.

Cher said... I just placed an order with them for some seeds I couldn't find anywhere else. I live in the US. They ship both to the US and Canada. And have over 2,000 types of seeds.

Mulberry Mama said...

You might try They are located in MN, USA, which is fairly close to me. They have lots of heirloom varieties and everything they sell is organic. I took a quick peek at their catalog and they do sell a black version of Garbanzo beans...otherwise known as chickpeas. It's called Black Kabouli, is spring sown, and cultivated like peas. I don't know if they have others or not. Good luck!

Woodsy Woman said...

Mrs. Maker, I bought most of my seeds last year from Heritage Harvest Seed (I'm in Alberta) and I highly recommend them. I also buy seeds from but for those of you in the states, they don't ship to the US because of customs regulations.

Anonymous said...

I'm very happy with Fedco Seeds. They have many organic and heirloom varieties (and no GMOs.) Their prices are quite good as well.

denise said...

Most are listed. I like, in addition to several mentioned. I have specific guidelines for who I will buy seeds from, and these make my cut:

Seeds of Change -
Seed Savers -
FedCo (transitional) -
Baker Creek Heirloom -
Abundant Life Seeds -
Peaceful Valley Farm -
Horizon Herbs -
High Mowing Seeds -
Pinetree -
Southern Exposure -
Victory Seeds -
Wood Prairie Farm -

(Actually, I have a bunch more, but...I'll stop while I can! ;))