Thursday, March 13, 2014

In the Garden: Canadian Seed Companies

The snow is melting... Really... N is slightly unhappy with this...she's the only one...The front porch- where we start seeds- is nice and warm now- and eggplants and peppers and celeriac are starting to poke up through the dirt, the winter sown stuff is all done, and it is definitely time to get planning this garden again.

A couple of years ago Monsanto bought Seminis seeds- you can read more about it here - and I decided to only grow heirloom varieties. We mostly stick to that,  I love the idea of eating vegetables that have been around for ages, and believe it or not they do all taste a little different- which is a revelation. I also buy sustainably produced seed as much as possible. Sustainable is different from organic- though most sustainable seed growers use organic methods- they might not be certified organic, which is just politics really. Buying from small seed companies, that grow their own seed, and don't just bulk buy seed and package it in their own envelopes, is a way to support small farming and local businesses. Plus if you buy the seed from the person who gathered the seed- you can be sure that you're not buying from a big nasty company- so it's Monsanto proof.

The personal is political after all- and the more we support a better agriculture with our wallets the better the world will be. Often the seeds are not as cheap as they would be in Walmart, but you're paying for quality- they are most likely to germinate-plus- if they don't you have an actual person to talk to about it- who will actually care that your eggplant seeds didn't produce. And really is 3.95 too much to pay for a years supply of carrots or squash?

We've also ordered from Baker Creek seeds in the past- and they are superb- I love that you can write a review of the seeds right on their page and the selection is phenomenal- but they aren't local to me- so I've been trying to find good Canadian companies to buy seed from- and there are a ton out there. These are the five that I've bought from or am planning to buy from this year:

 T&T seeds: Located in Winnipeg- they are a good source of fruit trees and perennials- but we've had some bad luck with their stuff dying in the second year. They do supply mostly zone 3 hardy varieties, which is nice because you won't find things like rosemary listed as perennials (everything is perennial somewhere, just probably not here) and they have lots of ornamentals- some hard to find ones as well- Snakeroot and Big Bluestem.

Salt Spring Seeds: Located on Salt Spring Island (a.k.a the closest place to heaven in Canada), most of the seeds are produced by them, they have a good selection and great service. I bought lots of medicinal herbs and edible flowers from them, but you have to be careful about the perennials- because of course when they say hardy- they mean to balmy British Columbia standards.

Richters: Located in Ontario- it has the polish of a big seed company- but it is a family run business- huge selection- huge. You can buy seeds, plugs, plants, or dried material from most of the herbs they offer. They also have mushroom plugs.

Heritage Harvest Seeds: Located in Carmen Manitoba. They have a great selection of Heirloom seed, they also grow the seeds themselves. It's mostly vegetable seeds- the Bean and Tomato selection is enormous, but they do have some nice old fashioned flowers and herbs too.

Boughen Nursaries: Located in Valley River Manitoba. They're an older family run nursery, and they've got great selection too- lots of hardy apple varieties, and fruit trees, they also have some nice perennials, and non-fruit trees too.

Do you have a great Canadian seed company that you swear by? Let me know in the comments.

Linking up for Green Thumb Thursday at Little Mountain Haven.


  1. I'm right behind you! My favorite seed source is West Coast Seeds, located in the Fraser Valley, BC. I've ordered from them for years and always been happy with the results. Excellent selection and even better gardening advice. Of course it's all tailored for the coastal climate, so you'll have to adjust planting times and what not.

  2. I always order from Veseys in PEI. William Dam in Dundas is popular with folks around here. I also placed an order with Baker Creek this year. Their catalogue is fun to browse. Greta's Orgainic Garden in Glocester (Ottawa) is great, as is Terra Edibles in Foxboro near Belleville.

    1. Baker Creek is fun- it's a gardeners dream catalogue. I didn't realize Veseys was based in PEI- thanks for the other names!