Seed sources

Although I’m usually happy with my mainstream seed sources, I’d like to find more odd and heirloom varieties for the garden. What are your strange and wonderful seed sources?

1 Like

I purchased all my seed this year through the Sample Seed Shop. They have an interesting mix for what I was looking for and have small “sample” packs for a lower price than most other places which I liked for trying out a bunch of different things. But based on your pics their sample size might be way too small for you…

It seems like a one-woman shop and I have found the owner, Remy, to be very nice and helpful when I had questions. They also have great ratings and have always sent me some “bonus” seeds, which is a nice touch.

I like the Sample Seed shop too, I have talked to Remy on Tomatoville. Some places I go are Wild Boar Farms, Trade Windes Fruit, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, Amishland Heirloom Seeds,
Seed Savers Exchange, Chili Pepper Institute, Skyfire garden Seeds, TomatoFest, Seeds From Italy, J&L Gardens, Diane’s Flower Seeds, Gourmet Seeds, and a lot of individual gardeners I have met.

1 Like

If by “your garden” you mean flowers, or also flowers, then Select Seeds probably cannot be beaten. For garden veggies I’ve never really had the need to look outside my local suppliers.

I like to grow German, Italian, Hungarian, and Russian seeds. So I often have to go to Ebay to obtain certain varieties I have obtained some fantastic seed from these countries. Some varieties are super impressive. Seeds From Italy has most of the Italian seeds, although some are carried by other companies. Such as Gourmet Seeds carries Italian seeds too. One fantastic company, What I like about the Italians is they are generous. A tomato seed packet from Italy typically contains 60 seeds.

Oh absolutely. Drew, I totally get why folks would want to order online etc. I personally just was always satisfied with what was available locally, and around here you can find quite a lot. Furthermore, I don’t have all the space I’d like otherwise I’d get really crazy with this stuff.

It is probably a good idea to buy a lot of your seeds from suppliers in a similar climate that test their seeds. What is worth growing depends a lot on the conditions of where it is being grown.

But then, I don’t care how unusual something is as much as how productive it is and how good it tastes. Why grow Brandywine tomatoes when you can purchase something like Brandyboy that produces similar tomatoes, but actually “produces” them?

At this point I don’t think I grow a single vegetable heirloom, but I do order seeds I can’t find at my local Burpee seed rack. I use a few different companies, including Pinetree Garden Seeds, Johnies, Park, Totally Tomatoes, which are no secrets, I know.

A few tips on varieties to grow in the northeast- Seafoam chard from Pinetree is the most tender and sweet chard I’ve ever grown, hands down. Carmen is an equal standout in the world of sweet peppers- twice as sweet and productive as anything else I’ve tried growing which includes a couple dozen varieties. Brandyboy and Striped Roman are two indeterminate, modern tomatoes that have heirloom taste with modern productivity. Totally tomatoes has a new Brandywine cross I’m testing this year because I don’t like having to make special purchases from Burpee because a single seed pack ends up costing almost $10. They have the exclusive on Brandyboy.

1 Like

Ironic as Brandywine is one of those tomatoes that will not grow well on the west coast. Very unproductive in high heat.
I discovered many good peppers and tomatoes but have a long way to go to even try most. I tend to grow mostly heirlooms, with a few hybrids. I’m looking for good sauce tomatoes, and you know very few hybrids are good. it’s mostly heirlooms that outperform them. And speaking of Italian, there is where I’m having good luck. The Costoluto tomatoes, Di Parma, Fiorentino, and Genovese have grown really well and produce the best sauce. The fresh taste is not good, but as sauce, they are fantastic.
I also discovered many Russian tomatoes do well here, productive, grow well etc.

This year I’m trying German and Swiss snap beans. I have heard great things. Swiss landfruen is supposed to be one of the best snap beans around. Looking forward to see how it does. I’m growing so many this year, hope I don’t get them mixed up.

Got all my seeds from Baker Creek this year, wonderful company, I’ve had about 99% germination on everything I’ve planted and most seem to be growing true to form, the only two things that matter in choosing a seed company.

I have had success with the “rams horn” types of peppers as well, currently growing Corni di Toro yellow and red. I have 8 plants of each started on March 1st, planted out on April 25th (earliest ever for me) and as of this morning the plants are doing very well about 2’ tall, well branched with healthy green leaves. Despite a super dry warm May, 1/3 of inch or rain total, I am very happy.

Atlantic Prize tomato is my most anticipated fruit, supposedly has that true NJ summer tomato flavor. I am also trying to grow some muskmelons for the first time, going to trellis them vertically on parachord with nylons to hold the fruit, god willing and the creek don’t rise.

Sounds enticing Drew. Do you save your seeds?

Yes, and all seeds are or will be available to anybody who wants to try anything I have.

Take a trial of cows-tit tomato, its about the earliest and most productive of its type of paste tomato. Gilbertie is the runner up.

Does anybody have any photos of Cow’s Tit? Mine I think is not really Cow’s Tit? Doesn’t look like a paste at all, bummed, and need real seeds!

My stock of seed is fairly run down. You might try Trudi Davidoff’s She has tomato seeds for a SASE (there is no guarentee she will have what you want)

Now there are several distinctly named, but more or less similar accessions of a red fruited tomato of (more or less) cows horn shaped fruit. Cows Tit, Gilbertie, Goats bag all come to mind. They have a distinctive slightly droopy long lanceolate leaf. On an indeterminate vine.

Hope this helps

I did run a Google with “Cows Tit tomato foliage” as my driver. There are good photos of fruit, and threads complaining about its whispy and limp-ish foliage.

I was able to determine I don’t have Cow’s Tit. No matter I had great success with Romeo, and other pastes.

All pastes are like that.

Not sure about seeds themselves, but business with Totally Tomatoes is not my best experience. I have to cross it out from my list of seeds sources. On Mar 19 I ordered Actinovate from them to protect my just emerging peppers from powdery mildew that comes every year at the stage of 2 pairs of leaves. This year I decided to be ahead of it, because if you use it when disease already started, it kills the fungus OK, but because on peppers it develops INSIDE the leaf, it takes the leaves with the fungus too… So, long story short, after I didn’t receive any word about shipment in 5 days I called. They assured me, that my order is fulfilling right now(What a coincidence!) and I should get it in few days. Nothing since then. I called yesterday one more time, just to find out they are out of stock and hope to get it by Friday and so on… If they told me that first time I called, they would loose the order, but keep the customer. Now they loose both. I understand things getting out of stock, deliveries of supply delayed… I do not understand lie in business. It is a real killer. I guess my peppers will get sick again. As usual. I ordered it again from Jonny’s, but it will be too late when it comes. Amazon sells expired product, so it is out of question…

1 Like

I have ordered from Bakers Creek and Ohio Heirloom Seeds the last two years and have been very happy with both. Ohio Heirloom is working on a new website for next year I think. Collections – Ohio Heirloom Seeds

I also checked out sample seed shop after reading this thread and discovered the owner has unfortunately passed away.

I am looking for sources of some of the tomatoes discussed in this thread and some others so I’ll go through the other suggestions too. is broken

Wild Boar Farms is live

Tradewinds Fruit is live, they have Opalka tomatoes which I was looking for.

Amishland is still live

Seed savers is live

Chili Pepper Institute looks like a super cool option for those looking for some colorful spice

Skyfire appears to be a UK outfit with good ideas for different garden plants, not sure if they actually sell seeds. More of a blog.

Tomatofest is all organic and all tomatoes. They appear to have some interesting dwarf options. Chocolate lightning looks pretty cool.

Seeds from Italy is live

J&L gardens is live

Diane’s Flower Seeds is live

Gourmet Seeds is live.


Pinetree Garden Seeds is live

Johnny’s Seeds is live

Park Seeds is live

Totally Tomatoes is live

@alan and @Drew51 thank you both for these sources. As someone who is just starting out, sometimes the “obvious” choices aren’t so easy to find. I added links for others who might not know where to start.


A small seed seller I’d recommend is Bunny Hop Seeds – Heritage Seed Market

Interesting varieties (including the biggest collection of micro tomatoes if you are itching to grow something under lights in winter), great prices and you can email the owner any questions and she’ll get back to you. Also, her pepper seeds are all isolated unless specifically noted, so less risks of cross pollination, etc. Not a big deal with tomatoes, but I’ve had several peppers not be true from Baker Creek and others, probably because they buy from a bunch of growers and don’t demand the same level of quality control.

Another seller I like, that has a whole lot of Asian veggies as well, is Chauly’s Favorite Seeds in PA. Great prices and the seed counts are very good. Some of the big sellers have really small seed counts.


We carry some highly unusual species and varieties of resilient vegetables and other plants: