I really am pleased with the products we received from Seed Savers Exchange this year. I have had seeds from them before, but usually it was a couple packets of seed along with seed from a bunch of other companies. However, 2013 marked my first gardening season in the Western Wisconsin area (versus SE WI) and I made a 'pilgrimage' to Decorah, IA, instead of Randolph, WI.
I had been to Heritage Farm once before on a tour, so this was my first real visit without a company rep making it an awesome experience. Everyone that was working in the store on the Saturday we visited was friendly and helpful. It was a busy day, but all of the seed racks were well-stocked and there was a man stocking things as they went empty. Despite the fact that there were seeds and soil and 'dirty' stuff, the store was nice and clean. Diane Whaley was there and was so very nice -- I could have talked to her all day about gardening. It really made my heart happy to find a new seed 'home' near where I lived, because I love to go and buy my seeds in person rather than ordering from a catalog if I can.
All of the seeds that I bought (50+ varieties including tomatoes, peppers, dry beans, greens, melons, squash, cole crops, herbs, and a few flowers) came up really well. I had no problems with damping off or mutant shaped seedlings from improper drying/harvest equipment or anything at all wrong with them. Throughout their indoor time, the seedlings from SSE were great! As the year progressed and the fruits of the labor began to get harvested, I was pleased with how each and every variety was true to type -- not like some of the seeds I grew from other companies (see other reviews).
However, as much as I was pleased with my seeds, I was even more impressed with the potatoes we got from SSE. It was my first time ever buying seed that was not WI certified. From SSE, we had Desiree, Yellow Finn, Kennebec, and German Butterball. From Jay-Mar in Stevens Point, WI, we had Russet Burbank, Violetta Rose, and Yukon Gold. All were grown in the same garden plot and we had 25 or more hills of each variety. Being that it was our first year in a garden that was lawn in spring... well, let's say conditions could get a bit grassy at times. We had few Colorado Potato Beetles, but tons of Blister Beetles and then the grasshoppers finished them off in August. When it came to harvest time, I was sick to see the potatoes from Jay-Mar. They were pathetic -- small and very few potatoes per plant. The varieties we had from SSE were all nice and large and had lots of potatoes per plant. To me, that proves that the quality of SSE's potatoes are going to hold up a lot better in my garden no matter what the gardening conditions are. If they could do that well this year, it makes me excited for future years when we have things amended and going well.
In all, I highly recommend Seed Savers Exchange. They might not have some flashy new hybrid that everyone *has* to have, but they carry the tried-and-true varieties that will bear well no matter what the season brings and no matter what the gardener growing them does. For a family, that dependability goes a LONG way!
On Aug 27, 2013, Lovenatives Nokesville, VA wrote:
This is my second order this year and both times I was extremely pleased. The second order I placed was on August 22nd, and the seeds arrived on August 26th (The shipping was quite fast), just on time for fall planting. The shipment included a free seed pack.
The order I made in the Spring included peppers and tomatoes, and both types had 100% germination.
The selection that the SSE offers is excellent and the quality of seeds is unparalleled! I plan on ordering more in the future.
Posted on April 18, 2013, updated April 22, 2013
I like the mission of Seed Savers and that they have preserved so many varieties for gardeners, for that alone I won't rate it a negative experience. I have never traded seeds at SSE so can't speak as a member. I bought seeds in 2012 and had the poorest germination rates I have ever had. Some of the vegetables didn't germinate at all. To be fair, I contacted SSE, and they sent out duplicate packs of seeds to replace the poor germination seeds (but keep in mind, it was too late to plant most of them that year). Now I have planted the replacements and one of the packets has had no germination either. One of them germinated beautifully. I don't know how they are saving seeds and why it is so inconsistant, but I don't make big orders from them anymore for this reason. I want to. The catalogue is so interesting and I love the family stories they take time to document. It's just most of the time the seeds give me real problems.
On April 22nd, 2013, linzelu100 changed the rating from neutral to positive and added the following:
I wrote the above Neutral experience to help other gardeners; this site helps me so much to choose where to shop. I didn't expect anything further from SSE and was really taken back when in the mail I had complete duplicate seed order waiting for me, with a very sincere apologetic response from my post. The company even sent me germination results from this seed batch. After this sincere response, I am concluding that what happened was a strange fluke of bad seed. Since the company has been so sincere about correcting my order, I feel very comfortable ordering from them again. Which I am VERY happy about, because I love their seed selection and stories. Thank you Seed Savers Exchange for the great customer service!
On Nov 12, 2012, SeniorGardening Sullivan, IN wrote:
I think it’s probably just human nature that we tend to post comments about vendors when we have a problem with them. I certainly have done so here in the past. But when I put together my list of recommended seed suppliers for a Senior Gardening posting this year, I realized that I should make a positive comment here about each of our suppliers that have performed so well over the years.
We’ve been a “listed member” in the Seed Savers Exchange annual yearbook off and on for years. When SSE began direct sales, we began finding items we’d stopped growing (for whatever reason) such as America spinach. We’ve also used them for tall pea varieties, which we prefer over the dwarfed varieties, as they’re easier for old folks to pick.
Several years ago, we started growing and processing our own ground paprika. We were able to combine two SSE offered, open pollinated varieties (Alma and Feher Ozon) with our Paprika Supreme variety to make an excellent ground paprika.
We still list and purchase seed through the SSE annual yearbook, but really enjoy the illustrated listings online and in the print catalog.
I am extremely pleased with Seed Saver's Exchange. 95 to 100% germination rates on tomatoes (ordered seven or eight varieties) this year. I recently ordered lettuce, spinach, and Bok Choy for a Fall garden and they included two packets of tomatoes to try. What a nice surprise to find, after I received exactly what I wanted after I ordered. I will be ordering from SSE again soon. Also, my tomatoes are now 7 feet tall, when almost everyone else in my area has lost their tomatoes. Had good production rates in another tough year for growing.
On Aug 12, 2012, src84 Santa Maria, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:
this was my first time ordering from this company and my first time starting seeds..
i got everything i ordered really fast even tho i sent a money order via snail mail..the shipping was a lil high..but after reading about this company and what they do..i had to support them...
i also joined the flower and herb exchage and im looking forward to that..my flowers from the SSE are beautiful and i would order from this company again.
This is a very good option. I have NEVER had and problem with germination (around 99%). The young (leaf crop) plants all emerge early (2 - 4 days, usually) and have a very healthy appearance --- not sickly and skinny.
Posted on May 10, 2012, updated May 14, 2012
I ordered 6 transplants - 5 tomato and 1 pepper for shipment April 30 to MD. Shipping costs $12. Items were shipped on time but badly packed and arrived damaged. No pepper plant at all in pot and 4 plants dead. Most ID tags and soil were out of pots, so no way to really identify which one survived. Immediately notified company and they said they would reship. They have reshipped according to e-mail on May 7, but shipped via post office. Should be interesting to see when these plants arrive and what shape they are in.
On May 14th, 2012, phaase changed the rating from neutral to positive and added the following:
The new plants arrived May 10th as promised, they were packaged correctly this time and all pots contained a plant.
They look a hundred percent better than the first package.
On Mar 27, 2012, oceanart Cranberry Isles, ME wrote:
The short version for people just looking for a reputable seed company.
I have ordered from the following companies for years
they all have good prices, customer service and good germination rate.
Johnny's, Kitazawa Seed, Rohrer seeds, Territorial Seed Comp, and Seed Savers Exchange.
On Feb 10, 2012, OldChurchEggery Mechanicsville, VA wrote:
I've gotten seeds from Seed Savers every year since 2007. I have the BEST luck growing their tomatoes from seed. I get the Czech bush tomato seeds and they've converted me from a tomato tolerator to a tomato lover! I've had great luck with butternut squash, chard, and lettuce seeds as well. On the herb front, the borage seeds do really well where I live (Virginia) and help draw bees to my garden. In terms of flowers, I've only ever gotten the purple coneflowers and those are easy to grow, too. I'm looking forward to another good garden year.
This is the second or third year I've ordered from them and my order arrived ridiculously quickly (not that it took long last year). I've been really impressed with the quality of seeds and the germination has been exactly what's stated or better. I noticed the dill I ordered this year has triple the seeds due to germination problems and they were kind enough to note that right on the packet, have to wait and see if it does ok or not. Always have been pleased with the heirloom selection, website seems quite up-to-date, and ordering was really easy. Only reason I'm bummed out is that I didn't order garlic quick enough and they're sold out of 'Music.' Next year, perhaps.
On Nov 10, 2011, bella_trix Montgomery County, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:
I order from Seed Savers Exchange every year and have been very happy with my orders. The seeds germinate well, they ship quickly and the varieties are wonderful. They are more expensive than some of the seed companies that I use, but the incredibly beautiful catalog (and great varieties) make up for it. I definitely recommend them.
I just received my order and I received the order in one week, which to me is acceptable since that is about how long it takes to receive an order from the two other online companies I have dealt with recently. I have called them for assistance with my order and found the person to be very friendly and easy to deal with. I would order from them again because of lack of issues with my order and ease of receiving answers to questions.
I was very pleased with my order of seeds. I thought the shipping was a bit high for seeds, they don't weight much, but no complaints other than that. Near 100% germination rate on some tomatoes, not so high on some peppers, but it's hasn't yet been the full two weeks. Love the full color beautiful catalog and easy to order online. Packets are very informative.
Suggestions on the packaging: germination temp and daylight hours requirement. I use grow lights and that would be helpful.
I had a large order of seeds, a full order form full. It took about 10 days or maybe a little longer, at the time they were snowed in bad in Iowa and the surrounding area so that was most likely the short delay, i don't need the seeds until spring so I wasn't expecting them in 3-4 days anyway. All seeds arrived in great condition, only one item was back ordered[ bunte forellenschluss lettuce. I love SSE, I visited their farm on labor day weekend 2010, a way positive experience, I bought a lot of things in the visitors center, staff and clerks were very friendly and helpful. I will order from them again anytime.
Posted on August 16, 2010, updated August 18, 2010
Posted on May 4, 2010, updated August 16, 2010
Posted on April 20, 2010, updated May 4, 2010
Posted on March 18, 2009, updated April 20, 2010
A great place to buy seeds.
A wide selection of heirloom vegetables and herbs. The germination rate has always been as stated on the seed packet, and my potatoes have always produced many large and tasty tubers.
Tara in customer service is always quick with a response to your questions and concern's.
I highly recommend them.
On April 20th, 2010, 1SickPuppy changed the rating from positive to negative and added the following:
Let me start out by saying I waited 3 business days for a response to my complaint before I wrote this review.
I ordered and received a 25# bag of Caribe seed potatoes along with another 25# bag of Yukon Gold. For the most part the Yukons fall within the acceptable range for seed potatoes but the Caribe's were almost an entire loss. They were moldy, scared, punctured and rotten for the most part. This besides the fact that they were so large that I could have sold them as baked potatoes at the fair. The problem didn't happen during the shipping but you can see that they have been bad for quite a while. There are even cuts in some of them from harvesting.
I now have to find another local source for my spuds because my garden is ready to go and I am leaving town for a couple of weeks
I will continue to order seeds from SSE but I will not be buying anymore potatoes from them and I suggest others think twice before going through them.
Shame on you SSE!On May 4th, 2010, 1SickPuppy added the following:
I cannot believe that SSE has lowered itself to become one of the companies listed on this site that don't respond to their customers concerns.
As the "Company Representative" requested I contacted the customer service rep's and got the same response I received prior to my posting................NONE.
Here is what I wrote:
I just received my potato order from you Invoice Number: XXXXXXX and a large portion of the order of Caribe Potatoes were moldy and unusable (8# are bad). I ordered a 25# bag of these potatoes along with 25# of Yukon Gold and I am not happy with the product at all. The mold and juices from the rotten potatoes has contaminated some of the Yukons and most of the Caribes.
I have ordered potatoes from your site in the past and have received beautiful potatoes. These Caribe's are "huge, moldy and I'm afraid to even plant them.
Since this email I have left negative feedback on Daves Garden website. This seems to have drawn the attention of "a company representative" in your organization.
They wanted me to get back to someone and straighten this situation out although what was suggested would not be workable for me at this time. Since I did not receive a response to my previous email complaint I went out and purchased some seed potatoes locally so my crop would be in the ground before I had to go out of town, so replacement potatoes at this point would be a waste of time and money. It turns out that the spoiled product was worse than I originally thought and the damaged potatoes actually weighted in at 11lbs 14oz.
What I think would work for me at this time would either be for either my credit card being adjusted to reflect the lost product (plus shipping & handling) or a credit for further purchases.
If this is acceptable to you I will remove the negative rating from the website.
This whole situation could have been taken care of in a more personable manner and the whole world wouldn't have had to know about it if you would have contacted me within a reasonable amount of time to explain the situation.
In the future I hope to receive the product and services I have become accustomed to from your organization.
As of this date............no response.
On August 16th, 2010, 1SickPuppy added the following:
Well.......After reading the reply from the "company representative" I again contacted SSE. I was ignored just as I was previously. This is a great example of a company becoming too big to care about it's customers. It's lost it's focus and now it seems to be just about profits.
Against my better judgment I planted what I could salvage from the Caribe Seed Potatoes and go exactly what I feared. The potatoes where ugly, scared and misshapen. The other potatoes I planted in the same bed where great and had no scars whatsoever. They looked "normal".
Since SSE has left me no other recourse I have decided to contact the USDA, and the Department of Agriculture for the State of Iowa and Wisconsin. There was something wrong with the seed potatoes that were sent to me and I am hoping that they investigate my complaint. I have pictures of the seed potatoes sent to me and I am willing to have my crop and soil tested to see if I was sent diseased seeds. I still have a file of the emails I sent to SSE which included pics of the potatoes.
Again I can't emphasis this enough............buy your seed potatoes elsewhere! There are distributors out there who still care.
On August 18th, 2010, 1SickPuppy changed the rating from negative to positive and added the following:
I want to thank customer service at SSE for resolving this issue. I don't know why my earlier emails were not answered but in the end I am more than satisfied with the outcome.
Thank You.On Aug 18, 2010, Seed Savers Exchange responded with:
Seed Savers Exchange will be happy to provide replacements for potato varieties you found to be unacceptable. The Caribe is a very large, good eating potato, but is not a very good keeper. In fact we struggled again this year to sort through our supply to have enough "acceptable" potatoes to meet committed orders, and quit taking new orders in mid-February as a result. We furthermore have decided not to offer the Caribe next year, and are growing a number of varieties this year to decide on a replacement. Thank you for your feedback and we hope you will try potatoes from Seed Savers again in the future.
On Aug 16, 2010 2:22 PM, Seed Savers Exchange added:
Please understand how very frustrating this situation is for us here at Seed Savers Exchange. The problem is that we have not received any emails from you, therefore it is impossible for us to help you when we do not know who you are. We have even gone through our entire list of customers with an address in Waukesha, WI and could not find anyone who had ordered Caribe potatoes and have found no emails regarding this potato variety.
The Seed Savers Exchange staff would never ignore emails or voice mails from any customer. We respond to everyone who contacts us in a timely manner. Please help us so we can help you by contacting us at email@example.com and also send all your previous emails concerning your order to this email address. Also, call us at 563-382-5990 and ask for Tom, Laura or Kathy so we can check to see if your email has been received. Our business hours are 8:30-5:00 CDT. You will be issued a complete refund.
Let us hear from you so we can correct this situation. We want to help you just as we help any other customer who is not completely satisfied with their purchase. We never expect any customer to accept a product they are not satisfied with. The Caribe potato we got from our supplier this year was a great disappointment for us and as soon as we were aware of the situation we stopped taking orders for that variety. Thank you."
On Jul 18, 2010, sunnybritefarm Naalehu, HI wrote:
I've ordered from SSE several times and every order has been just fine. I never ordered seed potatoes, so I can't comment about that. But all in all I'd recommend them to a friend. I intend to order again in the future.
Great response, received my seeds in just a few days. I like growing peppers, carrots, & tomatoes primarily. I'm trying out both of their paprika pepper varieties, the hottest pepper variety they offer (Fatalii), and the Paris Market carrot. I recommend Seed Savers to everyone, and will be a repeat customer.
On Apr 30, 2010, VAgardener2 Richmond , VA (Zone 7b) wrote:
Posted on April 13, 2010, updated April 30, 2010
I joined the SSE this year and ordered some seeds as well as transplants from them. The seeds arrived promptly. Had germination issues with one of the seed packets, e-mailed them and got a replacement packet.
Waiting on the transplants next week. Will give an update after they arrive.
I recommend this company and their products and support their non-GMO and non-hybrid seeds.
On April 30th, 2010, VAgardener2 added the following:
I wanted to give an update on the transplants. They arrived on time, were very well packaged, and although looked a little stressed (3 days in the UPS truck), perked up quickly after being watered. They look very nice in the garden now a week later.
I would definitely recommend ordering transplants from SSE.
On Mar 15, 2010, Dyson Rocky Mount, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:
Posted on December 25, 2009, updated March 15, 2010
Started ordering seed for the 2010 season two weeks ago. All of the 2009 garden was done with nursery transplants and I wanted to try (once again) starting my own plants from seed.
Found the SSE website from an article in Mother Earth News.
Downloaded their catalog (.pdf). The photography is excellent. Ordered Stevia seed. It arrived promptly and well packaged.
Ordered Tomato seed with the same results. Only problem is to figure out what to order next.
On March 15th, 2010, Dyson added the following:
Update 3-15-2010 - Ordered many more vegetable seed have started onion, peas and cauliflower and I am extremely pleased with the near 100% germination rate of everything started so far.
I have ordered seeds from SSE for at least two years. Germination has been better than any other company I have received seeds from. Shipping is fast. And as other posters have mentioned the website is easy to use and their catalog is among the best.
I have never had a bad experience with anything I have ordered. My husband and I pour over the catalogues when they come. They are so interesting with all of the things we have never seen before even if they aren't something we have room to plant. The membership is so worth it. I wish I could visit there in person.
On Jun 22, 2009, baffledq Salt Lake City, UT (Zone 6b) wrote:
I have ordered from this company many times and am always impressed. The seed packets themselves are sturdy, with lots of information, so you can save your own seed in the same package! Or at least keep the packet on file for the information.
I also appreciate the fact that they don't cheat on number of seeds; I've received packets with FAR more seeds than was indicated in the catalog.
Their test farm in Iowa is definitely something to visit if you're in the area.
Over the past few years, I have ordered the majority of the seeds for my garden from SSE- the orders have always been accurate, and when I emailed them with questions, Tara responded immediately. Germination rates have been good.
I order at least a couple varieties of seeds from Seed Savers every year--this year no exception. They have items that I haven't seen in other catalogs. Last year I tried the ground cherries (yum!) and this year I'm giving Sunberries a try. Shipments have always been quick, and germination very good.
On Apr 6, 2009, goofybulb El Paso, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:
First time ordering from SSE, it happened about 10 days ago. I am impressed at the wonderful variety they have, all heirloom/open pollinated vegetable seeds. I was very excited to see that they carry a Romanian heirloom bean that I've been longing for. Reasonable prices, fast shipping - my seeds arrived within 1 week from ordering. Great quality too, all the beans are sprouting already! I will definitely order again.
Thanks to poor planning on my part I hadn't ordered any Amish Paste tomato seeds for this year. It's getting late so I rumaged around in my old seed box and came up with some of yours packed for 2006. 3 out of 5 are already up. Wow! That's better than some other brands that are packed for this year. I'm impressed.
On Jan 24, 2009, jerrygarden14 Chula Vista, CA wrote:
They always offer a decent selection of popular heirloom vegetables. Have ordered a few times and had nice results from their seeds with pretty standard (good) germination. Most certainly a good source for heirlooms. I'd love to visit their farms, maybe someday!
SSE has a little higher prices than some of the other catalogs, but they offer heirlooms that can't be found anywhere else, which makes the price more than worth it. I ordered a mixture of seeds and potatoes from their website this January, and they shipped the seeds promptly. The potatoes of course won't ship till March planting-time. The seeds arrived in less than a week, which is pretty impressive for cross-country shipping.
SSE has one of the best online ordering systems I've seen anywhere, and many of their seeds include seed-saving information right in the description.
On Jul 21, 2008, prairiedoc Morris, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:
I spent ten years getting hooked on heirloom vegetable varieties at farmers' markets; when I moved to a small town and couldn't get those varieties anymore, I figured I'd just have to grow them myself. It was a real treat to get the Seed Savers catalogue and find so many old favorites, not to mention discover dozens of varieties I'd never heard of!
I bought seeds for direct-sowing outdoors (I'm not yet set up to do indoor seed-starting), and the germination rate has been impressive given the cold, wet spring we've had, not to mention my own inexperience. I particularly enjoy explaining the unusual varieties of potatoes and winter squash to my friends and neighbors.
I doubt I'll ever become a member of Seed Savers Exchange -- I like growing too many varieties of things to maintain pure strains! -- but I'm deeply grateful that there's a catalogue available to non-members and that I can still support the work they're doing in some small way.
On Jun 13, 2008, Luv_Perennials Cincinnati, OH wrote:
I have placed relatively small orders with SSE over the years and have loved the selection, information, and quality of seed. For the past two years I have purchased a few live tomato and pepper plants. Each year I have had excellant results with these very healthy plants, and very tasty produce. The first year, two of the tomato plants looked like they had gotten too hot in the box and would not make it, but after a few weeks languishing, they began to grow and produced well. I plan to continue to order from SSE, and may even join one year.