I've ordered a dozen or more items from them every year for the last several years, and I think SESE deserves very high praise. I recommend them to everyone I can. I think they do an outstanding job of preserving regional crop varieties by selling seed from regionally adapted varieties. Good adaptation counts for so much. I don't think it's a coincidence that the varieties I trial from SESE are most often the ones I wind up sticking with long-term. The cost of their seed is really negligible when, as is often the case with them, I wind up with a great variety that with one or two purchases I can then save my own seed year after year. Their catalog is also a great seed saving resource. The quality and careful selection (for taste and productivity, etc.) of what they offer is so valuable. I don't just love their products, but I feel like what they're doing (even in comparison to other heirloom seed companies) is something really worthy of support.
Posted on February 7, 2011, updated January 13, 2014
Sigh. I think I'm in love! Just discovered this company this year, but will make them my primary vegetable seed source because
1--they grow their stuff and slant their advice to central VA--since I live in WV, this is MUCH more useful than the information--and cultivars--from Oregon or Maine.
2--the catalog (this year's has some really rad frogs on the front) is loaded with useful information--cultivation information for each vegetable, and specific information about cultivars that includes the bad stuff. They don't pretend every variety is perfect in every way.
3--they focus on open-pollinated varieties, in fact only offer four hybrids in the whole catalog.
4--they offer equipment for seed saving--waterproof vials in four sizes, silica gel, corn ear bags, etc.
5--My one order came promptly and without errors
6--I know that this business supports people living in communes, experimenting with solutions, a plus for me.
The only thing that isn't perfect is that they don't sell inocculant. Hint.
On January 13th, 2014, treesmoocher added the following:
A couple of years later, a couple of orders later. All I want to add is that what I'm really appreciating about this company now is what ISN'T in their catalog, in contrast to several others I've received. It isn't loaded with gimmicky stuff for yuppies with too much money, it doesn't focus on organic seed--I garden organically but I don't care whether the SEED was raised in organic conditions, that's such a trifling percentage of the input in my garden--instead they offer many varieties of things I actually want to grow, and actually useful products for gardeners and seed savers. Although--they still don't sell inocculant.
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange seeds grow great for me. I live in Virginia so the seeds are suited to my region. I like that they sell winter-hardy seeds, which is what I buy from them. Their mixed packages are affordable and useful. I also buy garlic from them and have never had any problems. I recommend this company.
Although Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE) sells open-pollinated varieties, the incredibly diverse vegetable varieties that they offer has kept me coming back to them year after year.
One of the things that I enjoy most about SESE is that many of the varieties they offer are both disease resistant and many can be grown in a hot southern climate.
Each of my seed orders has been filled completely and well. I have never purchased a seed variety from SESE that looked and grew different from the description given in their catalogue. Overall, their seed varieties grow well. After years of growing out vegetable seeds from SESE, I am very pleased with the results. Additionally, customer service has always been wonderful.
With all these good things to say about SESE, what else could they possibly work on? Perhaps they could have some of their seed suppliers based out of the deep southern or southwestern states Ė where the intensely hot climate will either kill the vegetables or help them produce seed that is more resistant to the adverse temperatures that are common here in the south. Some of us southern gardeners are sick of buying seeds from any supplier that is not based out of the deep south simply because moderate climate vegetables, like tomatoes, donít stand a chance in the open sun unless they are acclimated to our climate.
Having read the reviews here, I committed my whole veggie and flower order to this company.
Boy did I "Choose Wisely," as they said in that Indiana Jones movie...
Incredible quality, instant delivery, and you know what? I really believe that there is something to buying seeds from the immediate area where you live.
The incredible success of my seedlings led me to saving the "Cast-Offs" when potting-up and my living room has a new color scheme - GREEN.
I plan to order from them forever. I appreciate the whole concept behind this Exchange. Rare, close, value!
On Apr 5, 2013, Cville_Gardener Highland Rim of TN United States (Zone 7a) wrote:
I have been quite pleased with this company. In spite of having had a warehouse fire this spring, I received my order in a timely manner. They are thorough and send the amount of seeds per packet as described. Germination test date and % results are clearly stated on the packets.
In addition to seeds, I have ordered Inchellium Red softneck garlic and yellow potato onions for fall planting.
On Feb 21, 2013, pbtxlady Garland, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:
I've been ordering from Southern Exposure for several years, including this year. My space is limited and my orders are small, but every order has arrived very quickly without any problems. Great high-quality seeds and trustworthy company.
LOVE this seed company. Great source of heirloom seeds as well as a great information resource. They are my prime source for seeds for our school garden. For example, they not only have heirloom corn, beans & squash for a Three Sisters Garden, they also offer multiple varieties of rice, cotton, and other culturally important crops in small quantities. Give them a try!
Posted on January 28, 2012, updated January 28, 2012
Posted on January 22, 2011, updated January 28, 2012
Posted on February 5, 2010, updated January 22, 2011
I love to browse the catalog first, kind of like my Christmas wish book, before ordering online. The seeds are great, descriptions true, the price is reasonable, and customer service wonderful. Truly an A+ company!
On January 22nd, 2011, Reddoorfarms added the following:
I placed my order the last week in Decemeber '10 and received it the first week in January. I tried to order early because the bean seeds I wanted last spring were sold out. I'm glad to have gotten them this year, and so PROMPTLY despite the bad weather! Love this company and their garden seeds!On January 28th, 2012, Reddoorfarms added the following:
I received my order promptly (as always!) but wanted to comment on the dvd on cover and compost crops I ordered along with my seeds. If you wanted more information and to see how it works I highly recommend it. You can get the same information from various books but watching Cindy Conner's garden progress through the seasons along with what I already knew really helped to make it all click. SESE's catalog really has it all and I haven't been disappointed with anything I've ordered from them yet!On January 28th, 2012, Reddoorfarms added the following:
I received my order promptly (as always!) but wanted to comment on the dvd on cover and compost crops I ordered along with my seeds. If you wanted more information and to see how it works I highly recommend it. You can get the same information from various books but watching Cindy Conner's garden progress through the seasons along with what I already knew really helped to make it all click. SESE's catalog really has it all and I haven't been disappointed with anything I've ordered from them yet!
I have ordered from Southern Exposure several times over the last three years. Each time shipping was prompt the seeds were packaged well and I've had no complaints with their germination gates. Could not ask for any better. A+++
On Jan 9, 2012, hatchingbunnies Gilbert, AZ wrote:
Good prices and good germination on the varieties I ordered. Shipping could be a little quicker. Also, not a huge deal, but worth mentioning to anyone sowing lots of seeds--the tomato seeds were in large clumps and had to be carefully pulled apart before sowing, so it took quite a bit longer to sow ones from SESE than other companies. Again, probably only applicable to those sowing hundreds or thousands of seeds at a time.
On Jan 7, 2012, veggiequeen Shepherdstown, WV wrote:
I ordered from SESE for the first time in 2011. The lettuce mix grew exceptionally well, and I was giving away fresh leaf lettuce after other people's lettuce beds had bolted.
Deer got into the garden and ate the Potomac beans almost to the ground, just when they were getting ready to flower. The plants recovered beautifully and I had an amazing crop, just a little late. The beans had excellent flavor and froze well. I'm placing a much larger order this year.
On Aug 29, 2011, makocat2000 Fort Bragg, NC wrote:
I have been very pleased with SESE's customer service. I was planning on having a great gardening experience this year as I discovered them this past winter. I ordered seed from them, but unfortunately, I came down on orders to deploy to Iraq. I had to return the seed and the company was very gracious and understanding.
I did bring the catalog over with me and have been going over it with a fine tooth comb to plan my garden next year. I love the catalog, the layout is great and the descriptions are excellent. I look forward to ordering seed this winter.
On Dec 9, 2010, terri_emory Alba, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:
This is my first time ordering from SESE and I will again. Prompt service and a good selection of seldom found varieties. A good selection of determinat tomatoes (not as popular to grow). I'm glad to have found them!
On Jun 21, 2010, millvalley09 Mill Valley, CA wrote:
Wow! I bought 6 packets of lettuce seeds. I presprout everything I grow, so I know germination rates to the day. Every single one of these seeds sprouted and was ready to plant within 3 days. 100% germination in 3 days (or less). I have planted 11 other types of lettuce and have never had such great results (most of my other lettuce seeds are from Botanical Interests, which has great customer service but I've had trouble with some of their seed.) I've never ordered from this company before so I don't know if this is typical, but I'm extremely happy with what I bought.
Posted on April 16, 2010, updated June 7, 2010
I so want to rate this company as Positive because they have a wonderful selection of heirloom products and other seeds and plants that cannot be found elsewhere. I placed an order with them in February for seeds and a pound of fingerling seed potatoes. The seeds came promptly, accompanied by an invoice that indicated that the potatoes would be sent in early March. That is too late for planting Irish potatoes in southeastern Louisiana; I should have had them in the ground in January. I decided to wait, and take a chance on planting them late, since the weather was unseasonably cool. Early March came and went and no potatoes. In mid-March, I e-mailed them and asked that the order be canceled, as it was now much too late to plant. At this date (April 16) I have not received a response to my e-mail, I have not received any potatoes, I have not received a refund, and I have not received any information about the issue. I have e-mailed them again and hope for a reply soon. I will happily upgrade the rating when this issue is resolved.
On June 7th, 2010, SMStauffer changed the rating from negative to positive and added the following:
Thanks to Dave's Garden Gardenwatchdog, I finally heard from the folks at Southern Exposure. They could not have been more apologetic. They not only refunded the charge, they included a gift certificate, one that I can hardly wait to use this Fall.
On Jun 4, 2010, karmakaytlyn Wolcott, VT (Zone 4a) wrote:
I heart SESE. Last year we ordered peanuts and they actually did quite well in our chilly Zone 4 climate. This year we started over 100 ground cherries from SESE, both the Cossack Pineapple and the Goldie varieties and had a near 100% germination rate. The plants are growing strong and vigorously. SESE is not just for folks in the south! Thanks for the awesome seeds!
On May 28, 2010, blackthumbmary Williams, IN wrote:
Fantastic seed quality with an average of 99 % germination rate. I planted 1,800 Buhl corn seeds, 100 Pike melons seeds, 100 Kansas melons seeds, and 300 Rattlesnake beans and literally had an average of a 98-99 % germination rate. Some seeds were started indoors, others sown directly into Southern Indiana clay soil.
Really unique heirloom varieties - especially corn, beans, and melons. One of the few companies that carries Bulh corn.
Fast delivery and good prices. I have placed multiple orders with this company and always received my seed on time!
Excellent informative catalog. One of the best in terms of giving planting dates and directions-as well as product description. Almost like a basic gardening book.
On Apr 13, 2010, VAgardener2 Richmond , VA (Zone 7b) wrote:
I ordered from this company twice this year already. I like their selection and speedy delivery. Return customers get a 5% discount.
I live in Virginia, and I like that they identify the plants suited to this region.
I recommend this company and their seeds and support their mission of non-GMO seeds.
Posted on December 10, 2009, updated January 22, 2010
I have purchased seed and also onions from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. I found their communication about when shipments would be sent to be outstanding. Their descriptions of each seed and how they will perform in a Southern Garden area wonderful, as is the selection. Shipments are always timely.
I will continue to purchase from Southern Exposure!
On January 22nd, 2010, girlgroupgirl added the following:
I purchased some more seeds in January 2010 from Southern Exposure. They arrived within the week with a note of apology for taking so long!!!!
What a wonderful company!
This is one of my most favorite vegetable seed company. I love the wide diversity. This year I ordered "Washday" cowpea that I believe may be the same as a "Rotten Crowder" pea that my grandparents grew.
On Mar 4, 2009, SatorArepo Charlottesville, VA wrote:
I love these guys, I really do. They're my sentimental favorite. I grow a garden full of their seeds every year. I love their commitment to heirloom, open-pollinated varieties that are well-adapted to the Mid-Atlantic and South, and I love that their catalog is full of thoughtful horticultural advice. Growing some of their varieties (like Hickory King Corn, Cornfield Beans, Hill Country Okra, Cayenne Peppers etc.) gives you a real sense of the history and tradition of gardening in the South.
Excellent heirloom seed source - have used this company for 20 years. Shipping speed and handling excellent, resealable packets clearly marked with germination date and percentage rate. Very good selection of varieties.
Top-notch customer service - I got a personal phone call about a substitution prior to shipping as opposed to a bulk email or note enclosed with my order.
Website can be a little unwieldy, with supersized images filling the screen.
I ordered several packs of seeds and a set of multiplier onions from this company just a few days before a hurricane hit my area. They had the order ready to send the next day, but made a point of not sending it until I let them know that I was ready. (Tree and leaf removal took priority over gardening for a week.)
The onions came with a planting and care guide, which I found very helpful. The seed packaging was generic, but so far they are sprouting fine.
On Feb 1, 2009, Spookycharles Langley, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange offers a wonderful quantity of heirloom varieties, including many difficult to find ones at great prices.
The order arrived very quickly and while I haven't yet had a chance to grow any of the seeds one of the packets arrived with extra seeds because it tested low on germination so it would seem that they are serious about ensuring good germination rates on their seeds.
A good selection, including several varieties I've never seen anywhere else. Good quality seeds, too; I think just about every Queen Anne blackeyed pea I planted came up, made a strong plant and produced well. The mustard greens and chard filled up the freezer almost _too_ full, and my lovely, bushy, TALL stand of larkspur was the hit of the community garden I'm in. I'll use this company again. Their prices aren't the lowest, but you get what you pay for.
I ordered from SESE a couple years ago. (just found this website)
At the time they were very helpful when an order got lost due to a confused mailman at our new address. They also answered my silly questions very graciously.
The varieties they offer and choices in quantity are wonderful. I agree that reading the literature was a lot of fun.
I live in the midwest, zone 5 and did well with the seeds, even when a season old at planting.
On the flip side a few varieties were shipped with kind of low germinations tests on the package. That was't inspiring. Everything went well because I ordered much too ambitiously: )
Considering product prices were fair enough to stock up so I never ran into problems, in fact I still have some left over......
Did have trouble getting the catalogue this season. Never came even after requesting it. I understand that these things come up. I just lack the time to follow up when it pops back up in my mind.
On May 15, 2008, farmertony Maplesville, AL wrote:
In Nov/Dec 2007 I ordered peanut seeds from SESE. After much delay I finally received the seeds (in the shell) at a cost of $57.50 for 1 pound in the shell seeds under order number 40626. The cost of $51.00 not including shipping is very excessive for 1 pound of peanut seeds! I had ordered more than 1 pound and didn't expect them not be be shelled (SESE did not indicate shelled or unshelled). I returned the 1 pound of unshelled seeds to SESE on 8 FEB 2008 via insured mail. After not hearing anything from SESE or a credit to my credit card, I e-mailed SESE several times requesting update on my credit for returned seeds. I have not received a reply or credit on my credit card from SESE as of this date. I am a farmer and I order most of my various seeds on line. This is the first time I have had a problem like this and SESE will NOT be one of the companies I will order from again. I did order my peanut seeds (shelled) from another company at a cost of $7,45 a pound.
On July 18th, 2008, farmertony changed the rating from negative to positive and added the following:
Since my first comments on Dave'sGarden concerning Southern Exposure Seed Exchange I have been contacted by them (SESE) about my return order and my credit card has been credited with the cost of the item returned. It only took six months and a complaint on Dave's Garden to get corrective action. Thanks.