December is a relatively slow month for tasks within the garden, but this gives us a great opportunity to pour over the seed catalogues in preparation for what we would like to grow next year. Seed merchants normally distribute their plant and seed catalogues during December so it’s best to contact them early to ensure that they haven’t run out of supplies.
Once your name is on their database of customers, you don’t generally need to order any new ones for the following months as they will get sent out to you automatically.
Here in the UK, there are a variety of reputable seed merchants that supply free seed catalogues with a great selection of fruit and vegetable plants and seeds. Details of some of the most popular ones can be found listed below:
Thompson and Morgan
There are some other companies that I have used in the past, that don’t generally send out catalogues, but do have a vast selection of fruit and vegetables seeds displayed on their websites, with reasonable prices for postage and packaging.
These are seedparade.co.uk, vegetableseeds.net and of course the trusty eBay!
Please feel free to let me know of any other seed merchants you could recommend so that this information can be passed onto other fellow gardeners around the globe.
Before you order any seeds it is worthwhile having a look at what you already have as seeds have a shelf life and are only viable for a certain length of time. Parsnips seeds, for example are only viable for up to a year so these would need to be bought in new every year. You could always share the cost of buying seeds with a friend as most seed packets generally have more seeds than one person can grow in a year! Swapping seeds is also a great way of trying a new variety.
By planning ahead in the summer and autumn months you could also save your own seed. Some vegetable plants are relatively easy to save seed from such as beans, peas, peppers and tomatoes, and a few a little more difficult like carrots, leeks, onions or even beetroot.
I’ll give more details about saving seeds over the next few months so in the meantime have a look at what seeds you already have, check out the seed merchants catalogues or online stores and look forward to planning ahead with next years’ growing season!
I usually save my seeds, but then, they do not always grow, and then I buy whatever I can (whups!) you shame me into being more organnized – maybe!
Lol. I still can’t resist buying a new packet of seed which is why I have ended up with so many. I do give lots away though and I often get different varieties in return.
My seed heros are Real Seeds (www.realseeds.co.uk) – a few things are a little more expensive but they are so reliable for quality that I turn to them first these days. And of course they only sell non-hybrids so everything is capable of being saved at home if you have the space or skills. I also have excellent results with the Heritage Seed Library seeds and their catalogue is the highlight of December for me. Not cheap, but I see it as a charity donation with a few seeds in return more than anything else, and it has taught me such a lot that it’s invaluable. I find a certain big name company very variable and avoid them even on ridiculous offers. From the more commercial suppliers, Seeds of Italy are pretty good, with an interesting range, and I’ve used Tuckers in the past quite happily. Finally look out for seed swaps; either in person, usually in Jan – March, or online (like the Bloggers Seed Network, or the seed swaps on forums like Allotments for All or Grow Your Own magazine). There’s a certain amount of gamble here as you have to trust people to have saved/labelled correctly but generally I find people are quite honest about how good their “products” are. The great thing is you can pass on any surplus while the seed is still fresh and fill in gaps in your own selection and it’s a way of getting varieties that are otherwise unobtainable.
I just need another acre or three and a Kew-scale glasshouse with a few minions to grow all this stuff in 🙂
Thanks for you comment. It’s great to have other reputable and trusted companies to use and what could be better than customer satisfaction. I agree that swapping seeds is not only a cheaper option but it also allows those on a budget to try a few varieties that may not be available in the shops. I would love to try some heritage varieties next year and will defo look up the heritage seed companies for my seeds.
I absolutely love the Real Seed company, their seeds are fantastic you you get loads for your money
Thanks Carole. You have confirmed that I need to visit them for my seeds next year. X
Hi Debb! Do you keep any of your own seeds? I swear by it! My tomatoes have been sown by my parents for years and are so easy to save and they grow again very easily, also peppers, chilli, beans (my friend gave me some beans her parents had saved and they were fantastic!!!) but I do often find that saved ones work really well. When I do buy them though I go for Wilko’s seeds! Or Johnsons world kitchen – they have some really unusual ones and their courgettes are the best!! 🙂 http://www.johnsons-seeds.com/catalogue/world-kitchen Happy planning!
Hey Anna, yes I do try and save as many seeds as I possibly can. Sometimes I even go to the supermarket, purchase just one or two of the different varieties of tomatoes, chilies or peppers purposely just to save the seeds! Wilko’s are also my favourite store at the end of summer when they sell most of their seeds at a quarter of the price. They tend to do a very good range of Johnsons products too.
Just discovered your blog (thanks for stopping by mine-that’s how I found you). Since you are in the UK and we are gardening in eastern Ontario, Canada, there are some things (such as the seed companies and of course, the growing zones) which make our gardening different. There are other things, like the joy of growing something that thrives and puzzling over something that doesn’t, that are shared by gardener no matter where they live in the world.
I learned something from your latest post and that is parsnip seeds shelf-life is very short. We are in our second year of allotment gardening and found that parsnips are difficult to grow. At the end of this second year we discovered why-we didn’t know what they looked like when they emerged and we pulled them out thinking they were weeds! Is there a website that tells you about the shelf life of seeds?
Hi again. Parsnip seeds are notoriously bad for germination. I tend to start mine off on damp kitchen paper until the first root shows then I plant these knowing that they are not passed their best. Let me know what seeds that you need to find out about and i’ll see what I can find for you. I plan on doing a post on seed validity in the next few weeks so watch this space.
real seeds are amazing, as are seedparade. I haven’t sorted out my seed stasher in a while, but i know i have all sorts of tomatos and lots of chillies. Think brassicas will be plugs as I can’t bypass slugs with seedlings. I save my pumpkin seeds and share those.
Thanks for the comment. I have heard of Real Seeds and want to give them a go at some point. That said, I have loads of seeds that I need to sort through first. Don’t reckon I’ll need to buy any for next season!
We have used Real Seeds as well, they are a fantastic company and encourage you to save your own seeds. We have grown Lemon Chillies for about four years now and never purchased another packet from them since the original pack.
I have tried the egg shell method for the slugs but I think unless it is about 15cms tall and cemented like a wall around the base of the plant, this method doesn’t work. It doesn’t go to waste though it is grinded and added to home made compost.