I've been searching for a "French" Tarragon plant to cook with for quite some time now. When I found Gourmetseed.com I noticed they sold the seeds I'd been looking for so I bought those and a few others to make the shipping and handling worthwhile. Well, shortly after ordering, I started reading a lot of testimony about how you can't get viable seed from a true culinary Tarragon. The appropriate variety you cook with HAS to be cloned. There are a million dissatisfied customers out there who got duped and not one good review anywhere about anyone successfully growing tasteful Tarragon from seed. When I contacted them with my concern this was their reply:
"We do have a test garden where we grow new varieties and periodically check some of our standard varieties, but we depend greatly on the community of growers we have as our customers to help us in our descriptions... To be honest, we've never been in a situation to compare this to other Tarragons."
That doesn't sound like a committed answer. It sounds to me like I just got duped by a snake-oil salesman. If you want a professional seed I would go somewhere else, seeing as the man who responded also made this statement erroneously spelling the plant's common name disrobing whatever faith I had in their knowledge before now:
"The Italian seed supplier we get the Terragon from assures us it is the type you are looking for, but..."
All the controversy and misspellings aside, this company's seeds are advertised to be kept in hermetically sealed envelopes to last longer, yet the Tarragon seed I received expires two months after I received it. Hardly professional. I shouldn't even have to ask for a fresh packet, it should have been a given. The other six packets I recieved all expire next year, which is typical despite the "extra neat-o space packaging". If you ask me, it looks like they buy bulk seed and just seal it themselves.
Further, when I asked customer service to reassure me that this is the variety I wanted (which a professional botanist informed me was the SATIVA variety) they skirted around the issue and told me that they were sure this was the one I wanted and that the nomenclature was dubious all around. What?!?! So now they're telling me that they're sure even though they just informed me that they didn't know, can't even spell it, and relied on customer feedback? Just remember, a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square. This may be the same species of Tarragon, but it is not the culinary variety you would expect from a distributor who goes by the moniker "Gourmet".
They told me then, that if I wanted I could ask for a refund... which I most certainly did because I wouldn't have bought ANY of the seeds from them knowing the Tarragon was the bitter, non-culinary variety. They responded daily to me emails until I asked for my money back, and now I've heard nothing.
If you buy Tarragon from seed, the merchant will tell you the typical lie that "Russian" Tarragon is labeled A. dracunculoides and theirs, A. dracunculus, is the edible kind... which is only half true. Their "edible" Tarragon, A. dracunculus, is not the tasty variety you cook with, rather the plant must be a particular strain identified as "A. dracunculus var. Sativa" to have the essential oils you are looking for!!! So now you know. Don't let it cost you $26.
On December 9th, 2008, srhelmick changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
They did indeed refund my whole order with one request.On Dec 4, 2008, Gourmet Seed International responded with:
On Dec 4, 2008 5:09 PM, Gourmet Seed International added:
We attempted to answer the questions this customer gave us in several emails, and at every step offered a refund or replacement if the customer was not happy with their purchase. The following is a copy of our latest response where we informed the customer we were issuing a refund:
We're sorry to hear that you are dissatisfied with your purchase, but as we have assured you in every communication with you, we continue to be willing to offer a refund or replacement for your purchase.
You are correct in that there does seem to be a lot of confusion on how to classify varieties, and in particular there is a lot of controversy over what truly constitutes 'Russian' or 'French' Tarragon, so that is why we attempted to assure you that although our Italian supplier classifies this product as they do, we are always open to any additional feedback we can get, and we are always willing to offer a refund or replacement if you did not receive what you thought you purchased, or if the product was not up to our normal standards of quality.
A partial answer to your question on the additional designation of 'sativa' is that it is not one the Italians apparently make. Part of the problem is that botanical classification is not uniform nor consistent, which is why so many plants have multiple aliases as botanical names. Not only do resources disagree when discussing the actual ability of Tarragon to produce seed, but they disagree on how to classify the various types, including the 'French' (such as adding the 'var. sativa').
Again, it does not do us any good to try to deceive our customers or refuse to offer a solution if they are not satisfied.
Regardless, you are obviously not happy with your purchase. Although you have not relayed any similar questions or other problems or issues with the rest of the purchase, we will issue a refund for your entire purchase.
We wish you well in your efforts."
Online order #05014326
The ordering was easy and the seeds arrived in about 8 days. The counts of mature seeds were good, even though there are a lot of small immature seeds in the packs.
Only one isssue here with my order. The packages were all marked "Untreated". However, the "Moon's Super Bush Beefsteak" seed had a pinkish red coating on them. I'm not real savvy on a lot of this stuff, but I have 93 other tomato seed varieties and none of them are red. So, I have to believe the package was incorrectly marked as "Untreated". Treated or untreated is not a major problem to me, because all I want are enough tomatoes to properly save the seeds from my harvest. The rest are for trading to increase the number of varieties I have to grow from and save seeds.
I'm not really into all that organic stuff, but there are others out there who DO care a great deal. So this comment is for them, plus, I don't like ANY mistakes on correctlly identifying what's inside the package. Surprises are for birthdays. Anyhow, I've already repackaged the seeds to physically fit into my inventory and storage system, and I have thrown the original packaging.
Yes, I will probably order again in the future.
On Jul 17, 2008, Gourmet Seed International responded with:
On Jul 17, 2008 7:20 AM, Gourmet Seed International added:
We thank this customer for their business and their feedback, although we wish they had told us directly of the error so that we could have swiftly corrected it.
Although we make every effort to double check our work and offer quality products and services, we do depend on our customers to notify us immediately of any error on our part or any quality issues they may discover.
We do stand behind the quality of our products and services, and offer a guarantee. As such, we would like to extend an invitation to this customer to contact us for a refund or replacement, since the seed was not to their satisfaction.
Gourmet Seed International, LLC"
My sister living in New York has ordered on my behalf various seeds from Gourmet Seeds in December 2007(over 30 varieties) which she brought to me when she came to Turkey for Christmas.
To my suprise most of the seeds were with expiration date 2007.
My intention is to use these seeds in 2008 (some of them end of 2008).
In my view sending seeds with less than one month validity is neither fair nor correct and I think the customer is entitled to freshly packed seeds when ordering in December 2007 and not receive seeds from old stocks.
Even if Gourmetseed tells me that I will not have germination problem because their product has longer germination validity from the one indicated on the package, I still think that it is a really negative points on their behalf.
FYI, I have also ordered in the same manner from Baker Seeds. the grains I have received were with the sticker "packaged for 2008".
Taking into account past experience, their customer service, variety of seeds they have, I will still keep ordering from them.
(Because of past good experience I graded them neutral and not negative)
I strongly suggest their management to take necessary steps to prevent such situation in the future.
On Jan 22, 2008, Gourmet Seed International responded with:
On Jan 22, 2008 7:27 AM, Gourmet Seed International added:
We want to thank this customer for their business and their comments. They bring up a valid concern that we are trying to resolve that will genuinely benefit the customer.
We strive to provide 'current' season seed whenever possible to our customers, meaning that seed we are packing now was harvested in 2007. This means, however, that we are a bit later in getting this on hand, tested, and packed than many seed companies, especially since so much of our seed is sourced from overseas. In fact, some of our overseas seed is still in transit to us. To resolve this problem and to get a jump on packing seed for the upcoming season, many seed companies almost exclusively use previous season seed, which for this example would be seed harvested in 2006. This means the seed is already one year old, so although the germination dating may make the seed appear to be fresher, it simply means it was packed later. For most seed, this is not a huge problem, as most varieties, if stored properly, will handle this extra year and still pass germination testing easily. We've avoided doing this as we feel it isn't being quite upfront with the customer as to how fresh the seed really is. As to Baker Seed, we can't say what their practice is, and trust that as a quality company, they are ensuring their customers are getting quality seed.
We've struggled to balance getting the freshest seed possible to our customers, and still have it available for those early shoppers. For next year, we're working with our growers and seed sources to expedite the arrival of fresh seed, and are working to streamline our processing here to get the current season's seed on the shelf as quickly as possible. Our plan is to have a larger percentage of current year seed available for those who order early for the next go around in the winter of 2008/2009.
We welcome any comments or thoughts from our customers on this subject at: email@example.com.
On Jan 19, 2008, fwfarm Lebanon, OR (Zone 7b) wrote:
The range of varieties is quite interesting, the seeds arrived
in a timely fashion and have been germinating reasonably.
But many of them are treated seed; which I don't use, so it
ended up being rather a big waste for me. Even one of the
packets that was clearly marked "untreated seed" is
treated - seeds aren't that color naturally. I was also not
thrilled to see the carrot seed packet marked "packed 05
expires 07" - this was in 07- I'd like to think I'll get seed that
will be good for a couple of years after I get it.
On Jan 19, 2008, Gourmet Seed International responded with:
On Jan 19, 2008 10:00 AM, Gourmet Seed International added:
We want to thank this customer for their business and the feedback. With thousands of products on the shelf, it is nearly inevitable that a mistake will occur on occasion.
We would like to hear directly from this customer so that we can trace down the labeling error on the treated seed to be sure that there are no more of this variety on the shelf mislabeled. Also, since we have no idea when a customer plans on using the seed they purchase, and we have many greenhouse customers, we can only assure that the germination dating has not expired at the time of shipment. When placing an order towards the end of the year, many of our customers will let us know they need seed dated through the following year, and we will try to fulfill their needs as best as possible, depending on current availability and where we are in rotating our stock. Since we use long-life, hermetically-sealed packaging, store our seed in a climate controlled warehouse, and periodically test it as it is stored on the shelf, our germination test dates are for longer periods than the single season dating allowed by paper packaging. We were pleased to hear that in this case the germination was fine.
The bottom line is that we do stand behind the quality of the seed, and we look forward to any direct feedback we can receive from a customer, positive or negative, as this is what helps us to improve our products and service. If any customer has any issues with our products or service, we request they contact us immediately so that we can have every opportunity to make it right.
On Apr 11, 2004, Condorito Singers Glen, VA wrote:
I placed my first order this spring. When the order came, two of the seed varieties I had ordered were missing but there was no return packing list or backorder notice enclosed with the seed. I sent the company an email listing what I had ordered and what was missing from the order. I requested that they either send me the missing seed or refund the money for the missing seed. Several days later I recieved an email from the company informing me that they were out of stock of the seed that I was missing and that they would refund the money. I sent the original order in early January and have yet to see the refund or any furthur communication from them three months later. As a first time customer I would like to see better service than that. I was impressed with their catalog and their prices looked looked okay but unless they soon come through and make this right with me, I probably won't be ordering from them again.