Store Bought Vs Catalog Seeds: My Quick Tips

Starting out in gardening may be a bit confusing, so I am here to guide you through it. If you have determined that you want to start your vegetable, herb, or flower garden from seed, but are stuck choosing between purchasing your seeds from a store versus a catalog, I got you.

Here are some quick pros and cons about each to help inform your decision. Let’s dive in!

Seeds sprouting

Let's start by discussing the main pros and cons to purchasing store-bought seeds, then we'll do the same for catalog seeds.

One, it is likely the most convenient option. It is just super easy to pick up seeds while you are already at a big box store, and for the most part, you will get a decent selection.

Two, chain stores usually carry seeds of vegetables, fruits, and herbs that are regionally agreeable to your climate, so you do not have to worry about whether a particular variety is suited to your growing zone. You may also find a small selection of heirloom, hybrid, or organic seeds. Three, store-bought seeds are competitively priced, meaning most often, they are the cheapest option.

However, there are a few cons to consider when purchasing store-bought seeds. First, seeds sold in stores may not have been stored under ideal conditions, and as a result, germination rates of store-bought seeds can often be inconsistent from pack to pack.

Another drawback is not knowing who you are supporting with your purchase and if having a Monsanto free garden is important to you, you will want to ensure that your purchases are only supporting companies that are 100% non-GMO and have signed the safe seed pledge.

The third disadvantage is variety for sure. Box store retailers prioritize shelving space to stock only the most popular seed types, so if you are interested in rare or heirloom varieties or other special disease resistant strains, you will likely only find them online or in a seed catalog.

Sprouting seeds

Now let's talk about the pros and cons of purchasing your seeds from a catalog.

First, if you have a sizable garden, ordering seeds from a catalog or online is often cheaper because you will be eligible for bulk discounts.

Second, with catalogs you can choose seeds from companies that are in your geographic region or climate, which means that they will have the best information as to what varieties will perform extremely well in your area's condition.

Third, if you are interested in rare or heirloom varieties or other special disease-resistant strains, you will find the best selection in a catalog.

Fourth, most catalog seed companies are family-owned and operated, so even though the cost is slightly higher, the value of your support of small business and local economies is immeasurable.

And fifth, most seed companies are dedicated to the preservation of heirloom seeds, and stewarding thousands of crops that we will never see in a grocery store or eat from a grocery store is so important because that is our collective human history.

On the other side, of course, there are a few downsides to ordering from seed catalogs. First, it can be expensive because the seed prices will be a little higher than what you pay in stores, and you will also be paying shipping charges. This can add up quickly, so to circumvent this, try sharing the expenses with a fellow gardening friend and ordering together.

Another drawback is you may not be able to get all of your seed needs in one catalog, and this is where catalog shopping can become inconvenient. Paying shipping the first time is something you can kind of stomach, but twice? Yikes.

If you are on the newer side of gardening, here is where you may only want to choose catalogs that have an extensive collection.

The third drawback is that it does take time to get your order. This is not an issue if you order early, but if you do not, then you will not be able to get what you are looking for in time for that growing season.

You have to be proactive and organized when ordering through the mail so you do not miss out on varieties that you want to grow.

Gardening trowel

Now that you have a baseline of the pros and cons of each option, another important consideration to keep in mind when determining if you should purchase seeds from a store versus a catalog is what stage gardener you are.

If you are relatively new to gardening and will be simultaneously building up your gardening tool inventory, soil amendments, and other supplies, you may want to start by purchasing your seeds at the store because they will carry all the basic vegetable varieties that you will need to get started, and at reasonable prices.

However, once you gain some experience, you may want to expand your choices and explore beyond the basics, which will inevitably lead you to the immense variety you can only find in seed catalogs.

Store bought vs catalog seeds

I hope this has been helpful to you in deciding whether to go for store bought or catalog seeds. Which one are you choosing this time? Also, if you would like to add to the discussion about the pros and cons of store bought versus catalog seeds, please comment below.

Next, here's Everything You Need to Know About Making Dehydrated Meals in a Jar.

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