Some Vegetable Seeds Are Already Cleaned Out

March 3, 2011, last update March 6
Holly Deyo

We purchased garden seeds last weekend through today, and noticed that some retailers are already cleaned out, listing availability as "unknown" for certain varieties, certain types. This is specifically the case at major retailer, Seeds of Change.

Here are a few examples of out of stock seeds: Arkansas Traveler Heirloom Tomato, Tuffy Acorn Squash, Sugar Baby Watermelon, Purple Dove Bush Bean, Nutri-Bud Broccoli, Cassius F-1 Cauliflower, Invento F-1 Cabbage, Dolce Vita F-1 Spinach, Tyee Spinach, Renegade Spinach, Small Sugar Heirloom Pumpkin, Cherry Belle Radish, and Oregon Giant Snow Pea. Many others were also noticeably sold out.

From High Mowing Organic Seeds, same thing, Cassius F1 Cauliflower sold out. At Fedco Seed, Cassius F-1 Cauliflower sold out. On the fourth try – jackpot! Abundant Life Seeds carries this special cauliflower.

After repeated messages of "currently unavailable" for Organic Invento F1 Hybrid Cabbage, on the 7th attempt I finally located it at Gardens Alive.

Stan and I adore hot foods so naturally we had to lay in a good supply of jalapeño, anaheim, serrano, pepperoncini, habañero and cayenne seeds, plus an assortment for sweet peppers. (Hope you saw the repost of Capsaicin Could Stop a Heart Attack in Progress and Cayenne Pepper is the King of Herbs. It's another reason to grow cayenne.) And no, we're not climbing above the outrageous habañeros' heat on the Scoville ladder.

Color me warped, but one of the best website ads for pepper seeds came from a UK site. You gotta love the Brits' sense of humor – and the logo!

OK, back to the seed search...

Repeatedly, when I clicked for bulk seeds, those were hardest to find. This is very telling about people's views of the necessity of growing your own food and having ample seeds on hand for multiple seasons. That was our main objective – to store enough seeds for at least 5 years. Apparently, it was a lot of other peoples' idea too. Anyway, it's done now. We have enough seeds, both non-hybrid and hybrid, plenty to plant, enough to give neighbors and some for barter.

Take heart. "Out of stock" is not the case for all seeds or all produce by any means. If specific seeds are sold out at one location, try another, or multiple sites. We used 8 companies to make a complete order. Garden Gold saved a ton of time ferreting out places to check, because it focuses on non-hybrid varieties.

Yes, it would have been smarter to shop a couple weeks ago, but Stan is giving so many interviews, seeds had to wait. We had a hunch this would be a tight seed season – tighter than last year – and it's proving correct. People are buying early, buying in quantity to save $$.

As a side note, last Friday evening I sat down with an impressive stack of seed catalogs and quickly became overwhelmed. Too much flipping pages back and forth. Too much info to wade through and yes, I got sidetracked by a bunch of stuff we didn't need. Yikes, I don't have 6 days to sort through all of these catalogs! Frankly, we don't know a single person, unless they are retired, who has time to waste. Internet, here I come!

Internet vendors gave concise, bottom-line info on every plant including nice photos and an immediate answer whether or not the seeds were available. Plus, even this foot-thick stack of catalogs couldn't begin to offer the vast resources provided online.

More Reasons to Grow Your Own

Keep in mind, too, that some fruits and veggies have been hammered by intense cold and freezing temps both here in America and in Mexico, which supply a lot of produce to the US and Canada. So even if veggies are available in stores, they will cost dearly and taste like cardboard.

Last week, tomatoes in local grocery stores looked like they'd come from Libya's war zone; bruised, dented, scarred, green as grass and hard as hockey-pucks. Tasteless too. Tasteless still. Many fast food chains aren't even offering tomatoes due to weather's onslaught.

Because the world is chaotic and uncertain with food and fuel prices skyrocketing, we purchased a lot of seeds, I mean a lot of seeds. Garden Gold again proved invaluable. Searching for seeds sources was easy using the over 200 non-hybrid retailers listed.

Its Seed Shelf Life Tables on pages 133-136 show what will still be viable in 3 years, 5 years, or 10 years. For those, we bought even larger than needed quantities. By using the Seed Shelf Life Charts it was easy to see what wouldn't waste $$ and ultimately be an even smarter investment.

This year we'll also be packing seeds for long-term storage. The easy how-to's are included in Garden Gold. Burying seeds in the backyard as some sellers suggest, simply won't cut it. They'll be "dead" by next year. Heat kills, just as it does for stored foods.

Food is a great investment. Grow a little extra this year for canning, freezing and your favorite friends and neighbors. They'll be in your debt and catch garden fever, which ultimately protect your own supplies when things fall in a heap!

Happy growing!