Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Seedy Observations

I've been waiting for a day like today for over week.. It's time to get more seed in the ground - carrots, swiss chard, beets, lettuce, Asian greens, and so on, but after three hot sunny days in a row during the long weekend (no complaints!!), the soil was a rather dry. Plus, I didn't want to be out watering twice a day, so I've been biding my time and waiting for rain. Yesterday it rained. A lot. Today, it's drizzly, cloudy and perfect for seeding. I just put in rainbow swiss chard, red salad bowl lettuce and three packets of carrots before the sky opened up again and the rain began. Now, I'm a bit drippy, but at least I got a few things planted.

I always find it interesting to open up different packets of seed from different seed companies. Sometimes you end up with way too much, while other times, there is barely enough for a small patch. I end up ordering many of my seed packets in bulk so that I have plenty of greens and roots for our year round harvest. Here are some of my carrot seed packets and being a total nerd, thought I'd count just how many seeds were in each packet. Here is the results:

McKenzie Seed, Creme de Lite F1 - I've grown this before from another company and we really liked the sweet flavour, but there were 27 seeds in this package. 27. That was enough for 2 tiny rows and that's assuming that all the seeds germinate. Carrots are notorious for being pernickety for germination, so I typically count on about 3/4 germinating.. That will leave about 20 carrots for $2.49.

Pumpkin Moon Seeds, Carrots Variety Mix - This is the tiny packet on the left and is from a local company in the Annapolis Valley. According to the label on the back, there are 7 types of carrots in the packet and I counted 109 seeds for $3.00.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Carrot Cosmic Purple - One of the larger heirloom seed companies, Baker Creek has a wide assortment of veggie seeds.. This is a stunning carrot that has a unique sweet-spicy flavour. The packet had 312 seeds and sells for $3.00.

Ok, enough counting! The rain has stopped again and I need to go plant my bok choi. And my beets. And my beet and chard braising mix. And arugula. And...

What are your thoughts on seed packet contents..?


  1. Wow, you count the seeds! That's true dedication.

    I do <3 Baker Creek--even when they advertise a low seed count (say, for ground cherries and such), I always seem to get twice as much as the packet says they'll contain and get excellent germination.

    For some crops, low seed count per packet is fine--I mean, who really needs all 50 cucumber seeds in a packet, unless you have your own small farm? But only 27 carrot seeds is something of a joke--a patio container portion of seeds, not a full vegetable garden. I can see some marketing potential, however: "Our seed packets save you time--no wasted effort succession sowing later in the season!"

  2. For starters, I wish that seed companies would develop and agree upon basic standards for the information listed on the packets. I want to see the same info on every packet, listed in nice chart form, in the same order evert time, for easy reference.
    This should include the basic planting instructions, expected germination rates, approximate number of seeds/total weight of the seeds, etc.
    I like it that you counted the seeds: it's very garden nerdy = good. :-)

  3. If the carrot seeds weren't pelleted (and you didn't mention that they were) you sure have lots of patience to count them....but I'm a seed counter too. After all,each one of those is a potential vegetable in my eyes. Speaking of carrots, I had maybe one or two carrots go to seed last year in the garden and made no effort to collect the seeds or anything...well this year.....I've got carrots like weeds, almost perfectly spaced growing out of the sides of my raised rows and everywhere else I will let them.Now I know how valuable they were and should have tamed them into a collection bag.

  4. Well, this is the first year I have been a nerd as well, and comparing seed packs, weight, and cost...has been an eye opener. I don't think I paid enough attention previously, but will, from now on. Especially if you are paying shipping costs from across the all adds up! I am a fan of Baker Creek!

    Good blog post had to be said!

  5. Hi! I guess I have experienced the same thing. I will have to keep those carrots in mind to try for next year. Happy planting! Nancy at Cozy Thyme Cottage

  6. Thanks for all your comments guys! I don't typically count my seeds, but with such a difference, I really wanted to document the difference..

    Nope Pete, they weren't pelleted.. I did buy some pelleted lettuce seed though and I must say that it makes indoor sowing for succession planting a snap! :) Good to know too about your carrots reseeding. Someone else mentioned that to me yesterday as well. I'll need to let a few open-pollinated types re-seed for next year I guess!

  7. 300 purple carrot seeds! I was quite annoyed last year when I opened my package of purple seeds from Halifax Seed and saw that I didn't even have enough to fill an 8 foot row. I got about 6 feet out of it. I had planned on filling up 4 rows in an 8 foot box. Not likely. At $3 a pack, that was going to cost me $18.

    I'm definitely going to have to look into getting seeds over the internet for next year. But that will require some extra planning and foresight, which is not intrinsic to my nature. So we'll see...

  8. I had a similar experience with some mache seeds from a company that will remain unnamed since all the other seeds were fabulous (high count, nice and clean, and they must be super fresh since the germination rate is very high across different types of veggies) and I'm waiting on a response from the owner. There were 29 seeds in the 3$ package... I bought another package from a different company which contains well over 200 (I gave up at 100,but the leftover pile was still larger than my counted pile).

    I've found Hope Seeds is always generous with their seed counts - especially with brassicas and flowers. It's so hard to make a good call sometimes when you're ordering seed online...

  9. This is all quite interesting as I have just started to save seeds for replanting and to add to my market stall. I have wondered how to know how many to put in each packet. I thought 30 cucumbers was generous and 10 zucchinis more than enough for a regular family per season. When it came to celery I just put in 2 pinches from the pile. I am now wondering how our customers feel. I do hope they give some feed back if they are unhappy. I love self sown vegetables but struggle with the messy look as I wait for them to mature and drop. Vegetable flowers can be beautiful, I add them to my flower bunches sometimes.

  10. I agree with Melissa! The variation in info on seed packets varies from almost useless to excellent. And it's really hard for me to find the critical info sometimes because it's not where I expect it to be. Niki, excellent post. I haven't really thought about this before, but have been sometimes happily amazed and sometimes appalled at no. of seeds. Here's what would be good: info on which companies, if any, can be counted on for giving you your money's worth. Thanks


Please feel free to leave comments. I welcome your tips, questions, thoughts and ideas (and suggestions for new veggies to grow!)