7 Reasons You Can’t Get The Seed You Want

Great vegetables start with great seeds.

Here are 7 reasons that can stop you from getting those greats seeds.

This is the third post in my Why Save Seed series. You don’t need to read the whole series to appreciate this post but if you did want to, you can start the series here!

1. Seed Company Drops A Variety

This is the simplest reason you won’t get the seed you want.

For some reason, without warning, a vegetable variety disappears from a seed catalog and never returns.

I understand if you say a few choice words when this happen and feel an overwhelming feeling of frustration.

2. Seed Crop Failure

Even the pros have bad farming experiences. Wast it extreme weather? Or a sudden disease outbreak? Or a legion of hungry groundhogs?

You probably won’t know. But in any case you’re not getting that seed.

Maybe there will be some next year. Your future self might be happy. But your present self needs that seed this year and isn’t feeling so peachy.

If only you had saved some seed.

3. Seed Is Not Organic

If you are a certified organic grower, you should be using organic seed. But that variety you love might not be available organically.

Yes, there are workarounds and your certifier is likely to let you use the nonorganic seed if you ask nicely (and have the right paperwork).

But if you’d grown the seed on your organic farm, you’d have organic seed for that variety!

4. Seed Company Changes Suppliers

Now the seed is available. It is organic. But your seed company replaced the usual strain of your variety with a different strain.

Why did they do that?

Maybe they needed a new supplier after the groundhogs ate the last seed crop. Maybe this strain was better priced.

In any case, seed companies usually don’t indicate when they simply switch a strain. You’ll think this is the same variety you’ve been buying all these years because it is presented to you the same way it has alway been.

But it isn’t the same.

Will that make a difference?

Maybe not, but maybe it will.

It doesn’t take much genetic difference for a variety to not quite perform the way you want it to.

5. Varieties Slowly Deteriorate

The seed company has kept the variety strain they’ve alway offered but the strain itself has slightly changed.

How did this happen?

A few cycles paying less attention to selection criteria and the variety starts to shift. Someone doesn’t eliminate the early flowering plants from the seed crop, and the variety starts to flower earlier and earlier. A couple wet years and someone accidentally selects against drought resistance.

Even the pros make mistakes.

However it happens, some varieties just don’t perform the same way and you can’t rely on that seed anymore.

6. Varieties Get Contaminated

Sometimes varieties deteriorate slowly over a few generations. Sometimes they change very quickly.

All it takes to ruin a variety is to not respect isolation distances between varieties of the same species. Suddenly a little pollen from one variety makes its way to the flowers of another variety and WHOA things are all crossed up!

In one case we received a sugar snap pea where 30% of the plants were actually a forage pea with inedible pods.

7. Shipping Seeds Across Borders Can Be Tricky

In this last case, there is great seed available. You just can’t get it to you.

Seed travels all over the world. I write from a Canadian context. Most Canadian market growers get a portion of their seeds from U.S. seed companies.

Phytosanitary concerns can mean that certain types of seed can’t be shipped into certain countries. Sometimes it can be a matter of what weight you are allowed to import.

Sometimes changes in shipping policies can make shipping prohibitively expensive.

And this is without tackling countries shutting border or having borders shut to them for political reasons.

Buying from local seed companies is one way around getting seeds over borders.

But again, growing your own seed is about as local as it gets!


What has kept you from getting the seed you need?

Have you ever tried saving that seed crop?

Next in Why Save Seeds: How To Create New Unique Varieties For Your Farm!


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