Here we are at the end of February 2017 already. The spring planting season is just around the corner and the catalogs have been steadily rolling in since the beginning of the year. It is amazing how many seed catalogs have gotten my name over the years. Despite all the companies vying for my business, I always seem to come back to the same short list of vendors year after year for seeds and also for a lot of the supplies and equipment I use in my sustainable growing operation. This year I purchased seeds for 40 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. I always get a lot of questions about where I purchase my seeds. To answers this question and hopefully save you some time, I put together the following list of the companies where I’ve purchased tomato and other vegetable seeds. They are listed in alphabetical order.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – A quirky, Missouri-based company that sells rare heirloom varieties of vegetable seeds from around the world. Their catalog and website are stunning.
Gary Ibsen’s TomatoFest – TomatoFest offers the most extensive collection of heirloom tomato seeds I’ve seen – 600 varieties – along with great descriptions and different lists and collections such as “Top 10 Tomatoes for 2017” and “Gary’s Personal Favorites.”
Heirloomseeds.com – A small, family-run seed house specializing in many rare heirloom tomato and vegetable varieties. They have been in the mail order business since 1988. They are very reasonably priced and tend to get backed up on orders in the spring.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds – An employee-owned company based in Maine that caters mostly to farmers, but offers a wealth of resources, equipment, supplies and seeds for the serious home gardener. For example, if you want to purchase bulk cover crop seeds or learn how to graft tomatoes and purchase all the required supplies, Johnny’s is your go-to vendor.
Peaceful Valley – I sort of see Peaceful Valley as a West Coast version of Johnny’s but less corporate, more down to earth, and certainly more economical. They offer a lot of tomato and other vegetable seeds in larger quantities. I also buy a lot of my cover crop seeds and organic fertilizers from Peaceful Valley. Their tools and equipment selection is outstanding.
Pine Tree Garden Seeds – Pine Tree offers an excellent selection of seeds for vegetables, flowers, herbs, plants, supplies and books, all through a gorgeous, easy-to-use website. Their prices are also among the lowest I’ve found. Great customer service.
Sandhill Preservation – Sandhill has a catalog of heirloom vegetable seeds, herb seeds, flower seed and rare breeds of poultry. I rarely buy from them due to their antiquated, paper-based ordering system. Yes, you really must mail them a check and then wait.
Seed Savers Exchange – This is a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing and saving heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. They have many great varieties of heirloom tomatoes available and a mission worth supporting.
Seeds of Change – Seeds of Change offers 100% organic products, including a huge variety of vegetable, herb and flower seeds, as well as tools and supplies. They are not cheap.
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange – A cooperatively run business offering over 700 varieties of heirloom vegetable seeds. Their website offers a nice library of growing guides for many types of vegetables. They have an excellent selection of heirloom tomato seeds.
Tatiana’s TOMATOBase – Tatiana Kouchnareva’s website is an extensive database of nearly every heirloom tomato out there, complete with histories, descriptions, growing notes, and photos. Tatiana grows many of the varieties herself and also collects information from other hobby growers to include in her database. You can purchase seeds for a huge number of varieties from her seed store.
Territorial Seed – Territorial Seed is a family-owned business with a thick catalog full of high-quality seeds for both open-pollinated and hybrid varieties of tomatoes and all other vegetables. They also provide a great selection of garlic and potatoes.
Tomato Growers Supply Co. – This company offers a comprehensive catalog of over 500 varieties of tomato, pepper, and eggplant seeds, including huge selections of both hybrid and heirloom varieties.
Totally Tomato – Totally Tomato specializes in seeds for tomatoes and peppers, offering both heirloom and hybrid varieties.
Victory Seeds – Victory is another small, family-owned company whose stated mission is to preserve rare, open-pollinated plant varieties. They offer non-hybrid, heirloom seeds, many of which are grown on their farm. Victory is my go-to company for the Livingston American heirloom tomato varieties such as Golden Queen and Favorite.
If you are looking for seeds for a particularly hard-to-find heirloom tomato, always start with Google. This approach will quickly tell you if the seeds are available commercially. For a good online discussion of commercial tomato seed sources, with links to many others not in my list, go here. One final parting bit of advice: if someone is trying to sell you “non-GMO” tomato seeds at a premium price, don’t bother. There is no such thing yet as a GMO tomato.