A Warning About Seed Orders and Barren Gardens

| 12/30/2012 7:52:03 PM

Tags: garden seed, seed catalogs, seed ordering, gardening, seed saving, self sufficiency, food growing, Steven Gregersen,

I love it when the seed catalog arrives with the Christmas cards.  We used to spend hours drooling over the latest offerings, comparing growing days and zones, resistance to diseases, prices and other data relevant to our location and needs.  Although we made our seed orders early we were never in a hurry to receive them because most years we have snow on the ground until at least the end of March.  We had plenty of time we thought.

Then one year our languorous affectation was blown completely away!  We'd made our normal seed order in early January then waited.  Waiting was nothing new to us.  In
our northern climate we often specified that fruit trees be shipped in the spring after the snow was gone.  We usually got our order in parts and we'd never experienced problems in the past.  But this time it was different!

That year in particular, after rising fuel prices made everything else expensive a lot of people began gardening to alleviate the skyrocketing price of fresh vegetables. 
And I mean a LOT of people.  Even in our area we met dozens of people who were planting their first garden.  We were so thankful that so many were going to experience the joy of eating actual fresh vegetable that we never considered the problems it would cause nationally. 
At least we didn't until January slipped past, then February, then March, and then April, and we still hadn't received our seed order.

Inquiries were made and each time we were reassured that our order would be shipped "in season."  Finally we got our package from the seed company with about half of our
order in it.  The apology and explanation was short.  It seems that they'd underestimated demand and had run out of the seed we'd ordered.  They shipped out orders to the warmest places
first, expecting to have more seed available for the colder climates but the new seed never materialized.  They were sorry for any inconvenience and encouraged us to order the missing items from other suppliers. 

To say we were angry would severely understate our emotions at the time.  We'd done business with this company for years!  Naturally every other seed supplier was also out of the varieties we wanted.  Some were out of almost all of their seed.  We were relegated to purchasing from the very limited selections at our local merchants and chain stores.  What a disaster!  Especially when we depend on the garden for most of the food we eat.

But that disaster brought some needed changes in our lives.  We now save our own seed instead of depending upon suppliers a thousand or more miles away. 

s.m.r. saia
1/16/2013 7:07:50 PM

Wow, I haven't encounted that problem yet. I have about twenty seed catalogs laying around and need to go ahead and get my order in. I have very little experience as yet with seed-saving but I have done some. Last year I managed to harvest and save some kale seeds, and I was really proud of that. I have some pak choi outside that has bolted and has started to set pods right now...

steven gregersen
1/4/2013 2:42:58 AM

It was around 2007 I think. I don't remember for sure. We raided our leftover seed stash and got by okay. We missed out on a variety of corn that only the seed company had though. Corn that will grow to msturity here is a rarity! I believe you're right about the coming years!

steven gregersen
1/4/2013 2:39:57 AM

I hope it works out for you. It's hard to lose a favorite variety!

cheryl aker
1/2/2013 10:08:18 PM

I discovered that an heirloom seed I bought last year (tomato) isn't available fromt the same company this year. Now I'm sure there are other fine varieties, but we were very successful with this particular one, it tasted wonderful, and canned beautifully! Lesson learned. I still have some seeds left from last year. Hopefully we'll get good germination rates again and I will most definitely be saving seeds this year! ~ Cheryl in Texas, A Wanna Be Pioneer

nebraska dave
1/1/2013 3:10:52 PM

Steven, would the year you are talking about be last year (2012). I ordered things that I thought would have had plenty of time to come only to find out that the stock had been depleted when it came to my area. I would have much rather had the plants then the money back but such is life. It was Rosa Rose bushes in my case and not something that I would have to count on for food. That must have been a very stressful ordeal to suddenly be told, "Sorry no seeds for this year." I already have a 250 seed packet stash for this coming spring. I wanted to plant a fall garden two years ago only to find there were no seed available anywhere. My lesson learned was to never run out of seeds and always buy for the entire year and maybe even for the next spring. I suspect the coming years will only increase the demand. Have a great garden planning day.

mother earth news fair


Feb. 17-18, 2018
Belton, Texas

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!