WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE: The website is well worth a visit: it has detailed descriptions of all the heirloom varieties, and everything you could possibly need to know about growing heirloom tomatoes. I contacted Gary through e-mail as I had a bit of a trouble with my browser, and found him to be most accommodating!
On Nov 27, 2010, AZHeirlooms Scottsdale, AZ wrote:
I grow heirloom tomatoes for local plant sales for spring and fall in Scottsdale, AZ. I have ordered tomato seeds from TomatoFest for the past five years. The selection is the best in the US and their service is outstanding. My germination rate from their seeds is between 90 and 100 percent. I have met Gary Ibsen at one of his TomatoFest celebrations in 2007 and he is a dedicated heirloom professional.
I absolutely love the detail of the website and the attention to detail. This is my first time ordering from TomatoFest and since I am on a tight budget I ordered from the sales section. I ordered several determinate varieties because it is easier for me to maintain the lower growing/less vining varieties since I have two artificial hips. I not only received my seeds promptly - it really seemed like the next day - but I received a free packet of seeds that I was interested in growing!
I will post my results after the germination and/or growing season.
I order from this company every year. They have a wonderful selection of heirloom tomatoes, each listed with valuable information about growing needs, days to fruit, and pictures of each variety. The shipping is prompt, and they always send me a free extra packet as a thank you of some variety I didn't order.
Yes, the seed quantity is small, but I don't mind as I feel it is worth it to have unusual and high quality plants in my garden.
The germination rate is about 80%, which is less than some other companies I've tried, but pretty good for touchy heirlooms.
Seeds stored in the freezer and germinated the following year have a lower rate, about 50%. But good enough to make it worthwhile.
The times I've contacted them with a question or an issue I've received response within 24 hours. Great customer service, great product. I'll order from them agian.
On Feb 5, 2010, funtomatoes Douglasville, GA wrote:
I ordered from Tomatofest last year and this year also. My germination rate was very high last year, I expect it to be high this year as well. you do have to order a minimum of $15, but tomato seeds remain viable for many years. The selection is staggering, with a lot of information on the site about how to grow tomatoes. Prices were fair, and shipping was very fast. I will order from them again..and again...and again, until I have tried at least 100 of the varieties they sell.
I ordered 28 packets of tomatoes on 12/27 and received them in less than one week. Everything was packed very neatly and I received an additional packet of seeds. I had a question I emailed to tomatofest and received a reply on a Sunday evening within hours.
Service was excellent, I expect the germination of the seeds will do just as great as the service I received.
Extremely happy doing business with this company!
On Dec 23, 2009, desertviking Albuquerque, NM wrote:
This is a great company. I sent an inquiry email asking for recommendations for tomatoes for very specific growing conditions and got a personal reply within 24 hours with over a dozen reccomended varieties. Customer service lives!
On Dec 21, 2009, gardadore Saylorsburg, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:
I placed an order Dec. 2, 2009 and they were shipped on Dec. 9, 2009. Excellent service. I too received a bonus packet. While I have never grown seeds from this company previous reviews indicate I should have excellent germination. I echo the positive comments about the Website. It is a joy to visit and learn about the different varieties of Heirloom Tomatoes they grow organically.
On Dec 18, 2009, MinnesotaMike Saint Paul, MN wrote:
Ordered seeds on 12/07/09 via their internet ordering system and received seeds 12/18/09. All clearly marked in individual packets plus a freebe tomato packet. If they come up true (no reason to believe they won't) I'll order again. They also sent emails with an order confirmation on 12/07/09 and another email when they mailed the seeds.
I ordered 12 seed packets from their fantastic website. Seeds arrived promptly, a free pack was enclosed and all germinated without issue. E-mail inquiries regarding further shipments were responded to politely and promptly. I highly recommend this vendor.
Even if you never order seeds from them, the website alone is worth the money for its amazing selection and information. I am personally pleased to buy my seed from someone who is in the business because of their passion for tomato farming. The work is all done painstakingly by the owners. Amazing. Yes, there is a 15 dollar minimum, but it isn't hard to do when you consider the selections, and I have had great sucess with their seeds. I would highly recommend Tomatofest.com. If for no other reason, you are supporting a "mom and pop"
On June 12th, 2009, iguanda added the following:
I can't say enough good things about these seeds. I have had close to 100% germination on 6 varieties and one variety, Sophie's Choice, germinated in only 3 days and was ready to transplant in two weeks (growing from my front window sill) These seeds "want to grow". Amazing. I have bought seed from several sources this year and none produced the results as good as these.
On Apr 11, 2009, RussMartin4154 Omaha, NE (Zone 5b) wrote:
I ordered 8 varieties of tomato seeds and (with their included bonus) received 9.
Just now, 8 days out, 7 of 9 have germinated at 70% to 100%; I'm still waiting on Abraham Lincoln and Arkansas Traveler.
After an "iffy" experience with Reimer (no communication over a billing issue--see my post there), it was a refreshing delight to have Dagma telephone me simply to verify my shipping address, which is not the same as my mailing address.
For that phone call alone, I give these folks an A-plus!
On April 29th, 2009, RussMartin4154 added the following:
One of the varieties in the abovementioned order was White Queen. When the seeds germinated, I was surprised to see that 75% were PL rather than RL. I E-mailed, questioning this, and received a prompt, courteous reply indicating that it was possible, but that they would send a replacement packet.
They did so--two, in fact, with lot numbers different than the first one I received. And they sent two different additional varieties. And they also sent a "bonus" packet. All by Priority Mail.
This attention to customer service impresses me. (Remember, I didn't even ask for a replacement, I just asked a question.)
Since I know of no higher rating than A-plus, I'll have to give them 11 points on the 10-point scale.
I ordered my seeds on Tomatofest.com. The next week I received an email confirming that the order had shipped. I received the seeds exactly 10 days after placing my order. Keep in mind that they shipped from CA and I live in NH. Also, I chose the cheapest (and slowest) shipping option. So that was fast. Thank you very much!
For many years, I have settled for the couple of varieties of tomato plants offered at local markets, put all that work into them only to get varieties and flavors that aren't much different from what's readily available fresh in stores during tomato season without all the work. This year, I decided I'd try growing from seed, with old or unusual heirloom varieties. A Google search brought me to Gary Ibsen's TomatoFest where I spent an inordinate amount of time reading the wealth of information and poring over the different varieties. The site itself is marvelous in every way and very easy to navigate.
Painfully, I had to limit myself to 5 varieties which arrived just a few days later. Gary included a packet of freebie seeds as well! That brought me to a total of 6 varieties.
Oddly, three of the varieties sprouted, and how! but three, including the freebie, did not. So I e-mailed Gary and two days later, I had replacements, including a replacement for the freebie and two more freebies! No questions asked. Now THAT is service.
But the plot, she thickens. One morning, several days ago, behold and lo, the three varieties that had 0% germination (whilst the others were about 98%!!) were all hatched! With a vigorous vengeance! So now I have all the original order and freebie growing nicely. As well, I have duplicates of all of those plus two MORE freebie varieties. If those all germinate at the same percentage as the others (98-99%), I will have tomato plants coming out of my ears and friends and neighbors will benefit!
For the record, I have tried to reimburse Gary for the replacement seeds now that we know the issue — whatever it may be — was on my end, and not an issue with the seeds, but he would have none of that.
10 out of 10 rating, and with highest recommendations!
After placing my initial order and meeting the $15 minimum I realized that I'd forgotten to order one of my favorite tomato varieties. I emailed the company and asked if they'd sell me just one packet of seeds since I'd already placed my larger order. Gary Ibsen was very gracious and allowed me to purchase just one packet of seeds - and he included his usual free packet of seeds as well. This will be the first, and probably only, place where I order tomatoe seeds from now on.
I've ordered from them in the past as well and have always been impressed with the level of customer service. A couple of years ago 2 of the 12 or 15 types of seed I ordered from them failed to germinate. Thinking the fault was mine, maybe these particular varieties needed special treatment, I emailed the company. They promptly replaced the 2 varieties and they germinated beautifully.
First of all the website is First Quality- with well written explanations and beautiful photos of every item I felt like I was making a well informed decision (Gary's passion for tomatoes is truly infectious).
I received the seeds 5 days after my order (which for the record I placed at 10 pm). It would have been expected that I would receive my order next week and was very surprised to get it today.
As for the $15 minimum- that's only approximately 5 packets of seeds (with 600 varieties available how hard would it be to find 5 that you want?).
And, yes the seeds all came in the same packages (I assume to keep printing costs down) but they are very clearly labeled so that really shouldn't be an issue.
And as a bonus I got a free packet of seeds...could it get better?
I was looking for seeds of some heirloom tomatoes and a seach engine pointed me to this company. They had the ones that I was searching for so I ordered. They do have a fairly large minimum order for such a specialized company but I found enough interesting seeds to meet the minimum. I didn't receive the seed by the time that I thought reasonable and contacted them. They responed almost immediately with the word that the seed had been sent on a date that should have gotten them to me way before then. Without any prompting, they said that they would send a second shipment. They followed up with an email that one of the seeds was a duplicate with a different name so that they would choose something interesting to substitute. When the seed arrived in a day or two there were also 2 bonus packs. I haven't grown the seed yet but they certainly get an A+ for customer service!
This is my second order for the year with Tomatofest.
The number of tomato varieties they carry is second to none that I have found in the USA.
Just like the first order earlier this year my seeds arrived within two days of placing my order on their website.
I am happy to be able to leave Positive feedback for this company. The Feedback I am leaving is deserved.
On May 15, 2008, msonmezay Mission Hills, CA wrote:
I just ordered on Monday, and my seeds arrived this afternoon. Everything was there, nothing amiss.
They have sooo many different varieties that it was hard to choose! I will be looking forward to getting more seeds from them in the future. Thank you Tomatofest.
On May 15, 2008, Terry Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:
I ordered tomato and pepper seeds from Tomatofest this year - everything arrived promptly, and just as I ordered. I thought a packet was missing, and contacted them and received a prompt and polite response. In the meantime, I found the stray packet buried on my desk ;o)
On Feb 19, 2008, jimh6278 Salt Lake City, UT wrote:
First time user with good success. I like the fact they accept Paypal. It makes my ordering easy. My internet order was shipped promptly. I use a Park seed starting cube with sponges and a heat pad under lights and had 11 of 12 seeds sprout within 5 days. 4 varieties. Same germination rate I got from Johnny’s.
I will update this fall when I know whether the seeds are true to standard.
On November 24th, 2008, jimh6278 added the following:
The season has ended and I wanted to update the rating. The seeds i purchased grew tomatoes true to the description, a problem I have had with other suppliers. I strongly recommend this supplier for those who value good tomatoes. I would also like to recommend the book, The Great Tomato Book, sold through this site. I has information even for the experienced tomato grower.
My order for seven packets of tomato seed was made online with ease. I promptly received an email confirmation of the order, listing the varieties ordered. The order was sent promptly, and the varieties sent were correct.
When I received the order, I had a question about one of the packets, emailed the company, and received a prompt reply.
As this is my first time to order from this company, I cannot comment on quality of seed. I will post again later in the year when I see how well the seeds grow.
On July 4th, 2008, seedgeek added the following:
As promised, will now report on germination of the seeds purchased this year. Due to storms destroying the first set of seedlings, we have had to start seedlings twice this year, and both times the seeds have shown near-100% germination. The seedlings are healthy and growing well. We are pleased with the product and will order again in the future!
On Jan 17, 2008, taynors Urbana, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:
I love this site.
I did have trouble ordering online, it wouldn't take my credit card. I emailed Gary and got a answer the same day. He told me he would fix the problem.
I was contacted in two days over the phone and they took my order over the phone . Turns out i put visa instead of master card. That was the mix up on my part. woops My Bad.
They were very helpful and very efficient. I am very impressed at their customer service.
I will do another order again with them
On Jun 16, 2007, BDale60 Warren, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:
Last season (2006) I ordered several tomato packets from this company for the first time. Germination rates were terrible. The main reasons I am not posting a "Negative" rating is because I made no effort to seek redress from the company so I cannot say what efforts would have been made to satisfy my complaint. Like many gardeners, I order seed from multiple companies and try a new company now and then just to see what happens. Fortunately, I had good results from my old reliable seed sources in 2006 so I just chalked it up to bad luck. Also like many gardeners I tend to blame myself or fate when things don't work out, but having grown tomatoes from seed successfully for more than ten years I have to wonder why the seed from a particular company doesn't germinate when the same conditions produce positive results with seed from other sources. I'll just say "Buyer Beware" with this particular company and let others judge for themselves.
On Jun 16, 2007, TomatoFest.com responded with:
On Jun 16, 2007 12:12 PM, Tomatofest.com added:
If this customer had notified me of any difficulty I would have immediately resolved the problem. Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing what variety proved to be the problem. Without customer communication there is no way to track the source of the problem. By not contacting me the source of difficulty remains unknown.
Each pack is stamped with a LOT# for me to track if a problem does occur with a customer, so I may compare these results with my recent germ tests. When I discover that a germination problem occurs with a variety or Lot# then I remove it from stock until new testing or a new seed harvest is completed.
I am currently growing and monitering the quality of 550 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. Although I regrow my stock each year, some varieties occasionally show a viability drop off sooner than others.
Customer feed back is essential for correcting up any difficulty that is discovered. This has also proven useful to me and the customer when I've found on occassion that the seed packs were from prior years or stored in less than ideal conditions. In any case, I make good my "guarantee"...always have.
It would be far more useful for this customer, and Garden Watchdog viewers, for this person to contact me regarding the difficulty so that it could be identified and resolved quickly, if the problem is with Tomatofest. "
I ordered 9 varieties from tomatofest. Of those 9, 1 was incorrect (Wisconsin 55 vs Wins All) and what I figured was an honest mistake since they are so close alphabetically. The intial order arrived very quickly.
I had email exchanges with Gary Ibsen personally who takes customer service very seriously. In the end, he made it right and I am quite satisfied. From the time he personally handled the situation, I had the replacements within 1 or 2 days.
In the case of an honest mistake, I think the judgement should fall on the end result rather than the mistake.
I like the selection of interesting and some hard to find varieties and look forward to further tomato tasting adventures next year too. I will be a repeat customer.
I placed an order with Tomatofest,the order never arrived. I sent them a simple e-mail inquiring of my seed. I was contacted within 24hrs. Gary made sure I hadn't thrown the package away by mistake. He promptly sent me another duplicate replacement. They tracked the order and even called to make sure I hadn't received the first missing package. I wished everyone was so concientious about customer service.
I emailed for Gary's opinion on tomato varieties and he answered in a few hours. I ordered last Friday and the seeds were here in KS. in Monday's mail. Will update after planting about germination. The service has been second to none so far.
On January 27th, 2007, elkwc36 added the following:
Placed another order with them this week. Was here in three days. Can't believe the quick service. Most packs have extra seeds. Very satisfied so far. JayOn June 17th, 2007, elkwc36 added the following:
I had from 90 to 100% germination on all varieties I purchased and sowed from Tomatofest. I had seed from about 5 vendors that all germinated in this range and then the rest fell off some. All have grown true to leaf form also. I will do business again. And Gary has the best communication of over 14 vendors I've done business with and extremely honest and fair. None better.
Ordered 10 varieties of heirloom tomato seeds. All germinated well except Hawaiian Currant, which was promptly replaced by Gary at no charge (different lot #) . Second batch germinated and we love them . They are our favorite tomato-- Tiny but very tasty. Everyone should have these in a pot or garden.
On Jan 28, 2006, toni5735 Chicago, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:
Wow, excellent and fast service. I ordered seeds on 1/26/06 via TomatoFest's website and received my seeds two days later on 1/28/06! Got all 5 of my selections and a freebie too. The seed count looks great also with at least 40 seeds to a pack.
I will definitely order from TomatoFest again and would recommend it to anyone looking for heirloom seeds.
Several years ago, I became tired of the same old tough supermarket tomatoes, and so, I tried to grow tomatoes in my own home garden. I had mixed results, but the main disappointment was that the tomatoes I harvested, were simply more plain old red tomatoes. Better, fresh, yes, but I wondered where I could get seeds for some of the exotic 'foreign' tomatoes I ate during my travels in South America.
Imagine my delight, to find the Tomatofest.com website, with so many exotic varieties of heirloom tomatoes! I was determined to succeed in growing these, so I ordered some interesting seeds and also, Mr Ibsen's excellent book.
I love those exotic tomatoes! My family and friends
are asking me if I am going to be growing a garden
again this year, because they can't wait for more of
those colorful exotics. Who would have guessed that
tomatoes could taste so different?
My orders have continued, every year, and I am getting ready to plan my garden for this spring. I have seen some new varieties on the Tomatofest.com website, and my plan is to make the red tomatoes the minority this year, and grow more of the exotic and colorful varieties that I have 'grown to love'.
I admit I have a fondness for Mr Ibsen and his carefully tended heirloom seed business. He has been very dependable, every order filled and shipped like clockwork. I have tried to make time attend the annual Tomatofest shindig, maybe I can make it this year. It is amazing how many, many pounds of incredible tomatoes can come from one seed, so tiny.
On Jan 18, 2006, cprice4265 Arroyo Grande, CA wrote:
Buyer Beware! I just ordered over $300 worth of tomatoes. This company uses old stock and charges a high price. Some of my packs were dated back to 2003. Not one of the 75 packages I received was for 2006. I grow heirloom tomatoes for chef's and buy from several companies around the world and have never seen such poor communication and customer service. I asked for a receipt and was never sent one. I asked for bulk pricing information and was never responded to. Buyer, there are much better choices for your purchases, no matter how tempting the website looks.
On January 26th, 2006, cprice4265 added the following:
After reading my posting on Garden Watchdog, I was contacted by Mr. Ibsen of Tomatofest on 1/22. Mr. Ibsen offered the following response to my posting.
My post: This company uses old stock and charges a high price. Some of my packs were dated back to 2003. Not one of the 75 packages I received was for 2006.
Reply from Mr. Ibsen: The number on my seed packets is the paper stock number from the printing company. Per Mr. Ibsen, since harvest 2005, all seeds are packaged for 2006.
My intention was never to post inaccurate data against Tomatofest. Whenever I purchase a packet of seed, there is a date that tells me I am buying a current pack of seeds. Not one of my packets contains a “Date Packed” number. The only number combination that could be a date, is the number 12.2003 leading me to believe that I had received old seed stock. I suggested to Mr. Ibsen that his package be redesigned to show the consumer clearly, what date the package was packed. I had contacted Tomatofest via email asking for clarification about the dates before I posted to this site. When I did not receive a response from the company I posted to Garden Watchdog. Per Mr. Ibsen, he was unable to respond to my email question due to health issues and being on the east coast for a week.
Missing receipt/shipping list has been received
Bulk seed question has been answered
On July 9th, 2006, cprice4265 changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
I really, really hesitated on whether or not to make the rating an actual negative, but decided to give the benefit of the doubt here, since I have only ordered once from the company:
Here are my comments--
(1) I don't care what time of year I order, attempting to sub 40% or more of my order without even attempting to contact me first to ask if that's okay is not acceptable. When placing the order, the telephone # and address is asked for (and I provided it). In my opinion, if you are going to sub that much of the order, why wouldn't you take the time to e-mail or call the person to see if that is acceptable?
(2) What I eventually received over three weeks later was not properly packed. Whoever packed it rubber banded multiple packs of seed together in a non padded, poorly packed envelope for much more than a thickness of 1/4 inch (doesn't tend to work well with machine sorting)/cancelling).
(3) Next step, I politely contacted the company. All I got when questioning the substitutions were excuses and justifications. I did want to say that they did eventually send me the seed that I orginally requested and paid for, after two requests that they actually send what I paid for.
(3a) After waiting more than a month after the first excuse and resending the request for what I originally ordered, I did receive another response asking that I remind them once again in a few weeks or so. This really was kind of irritating as my thoughts were that why the heck was anyone asking *me* to remind them yet again?
Why not take responsibility and write it down in their daytime planner, type in their schedule, etc.? In any case, they did send me the rest of the seed a couple of weeks later, but sure I won't be in any hurry to deal with them again.
(4) The marketing blurbs are just ridiculous and over the top to anyone with a lick of sense and some real knowledge of open pollinated tomatoes.
On May 1, 2005, buzzbuzz77 Urbana, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:
I ordered several (8, I think) varieties of heirloom tomato seeds and have had germination problems with only one variety. The other seven are growing - strong and healthy. Ordering online was easy, descriptions and pictures were fantastic, and I received my seeds promptly with a bonus package included. Will definately order from this company again. Now...what to do with all those tomatos this summer....?