Go Burpee!



So, my theory is that everybody should grow a little food in the yard: Take a little pressure off the world's limited arable land, cut greenhouse gas emissions, eat better quality food in terms of both nutrients and flavor, and enjoy the miracle.  No big deal on the cost side, huge returns.

Admittedly, however, after 20 years, my own backyard vegetable garden is a little out of step with the populism of my ideas.  In fact, it is a hothouse of esoteric experimentation.  I order my seeds from catalogs that offer the weird and the wonderful.  I'm fussy about certain varieties and then take wild fliers on others. I don't want the seeds labelled "Swiss Chard," I want the special Italian chard with tiny white ribs.  I plant things just for the sake of comparison.  I plant things I may not even care about cooking.  I am a mad scientist.

Still, I don't have infinite reserves of imagination and time, and for the elementary school garden I do, I buy seeds in a local store.  And sometimes even a mad scientist forgets to order one of life's key ingredients from the catalog–cilantro!–and it's a big relief when the Big Box store has plenty.

This week, I was super-delighted to see the enormous rack of Burpee's seeds in Lowe's.  And even more delighted to see that a big portion of those seeds are organic.  And pretty surprised at the incredibly low prices of even the organic seed–most stuff is under $2 a package.  

I bought lots.


  1. “most stuff is under $2 a package”

    Yes, but there is so little seed it’s ridiculous. I once bought a pack of fancy organic tomatoes only to discover 8 seeds inside.

  2. Lu, I find that’s true of all American seed companies. When you order from Seeds from Italy, you may pay more per package, but the package is HUGE.

  3. I noticed that the organic seeds no longer seem to have a premium price too. Nice!

    About the amount in the seed packets: I’ve never had a problem with the number of seeds — I think most people have smaller gardens and the one packet will last a few years. They typically do for me.

  4. I don’t have a problem with the number of seeds as long as the pricing is reasonable. I seem to always have too many or too few seeds of everything I plant. And if you get seduced into buying 4 or more varieties of the same kind of vegetable you are really likely to have more than enough seeds.

  5. I bought pea seed this week. I won’t plant the seeds until November, but I buy it in the spring because it’s hard to find in the fall. I don’t understand why the seed companies seem to think that those of us who live in the most populous state in the union plant on the same schedule as Rhode Island. It makes me cranky.

  6. Botanical Interest has such a better selection of organic seeds and gorgeous packaging that serves as art after the fact. Shame on the rant for promoting shopping at big box stores.

    The TROLL

  7. Ditto the Troll….Just how organic is Burpee? Probably USDA Organic- which means it came from not all organic sources-check it.
    Renee’s and other quality brands have seed starting tips and other helpful facts on the package…I bet Burbee has some generic instructions and no clue when to start each type of vegetable- or even how to sow the darn seeds correctly!!

    Monica Felt, Santa Cruz

  8. Agreeing with The TROLL and Monica. I choose not to buy seeds from Burpee because they source seeds from Seminis, which is a subsidiary of Monsanto. No thank you.

  9. Well, I now understand that the Troll is an idealist!

    I order seeds from many sources, including the all-organic High Mowing Seeds: http://www.highmowingseeds.com. But if I want to buy seeds from a retail outlet in Saratoga Springs, NY, my choices are very limited. Botanical Interests is not an option.

    And I’d way rather Burpee sold something that meets USDA organic standards, imperfect as those may be, than not. I’d also way rather see a big seed aisle in Lowe’s than more ugly lamps and horrible curtains.

    We live in an imperfect world. Anything that encourages vegetable gardening is good–and that includes impulse buys in Big Box stores.

  10. I’m so glad to stumble on your blog! Just like you I’m a nut when it comes to unusual seeds and I love rareseeds.com that lets me try all various things that normally you can’t find in regular stores – like black pineapple tomato and many others. Of course for those varieties that I loved the taste I saved seeds from them for next year.

  11. Yes, I totally agree! I do my best to get my seeds from the organic catalogs, but sometimes, one just can’t find them, and has to rely on a local source.

Comments are closed.