April 28, 2020

Seed Shortages(?) and One Solution

I've picked up some buzz from around the internet that because of the pandemic, so many people have been trying to purchase online and mail-order seeds that demand is exceeding supply. I don't know if that's true, or if it's sensationalism to put people into another dither and get hits. That's not my point! The reason for this blog post is to pass on a potentially useful thread I found at Permies.com.


I realize there can be many objections to this, but the article is well written and addresses problems and concerns. It's well worth a read by those of you looking to either start or expand your own gardens.

The thread was started five years ago, but comments and ideas have been added to it since. You don't have to be a Permies member to read it, only to comment.

If you have more ideas for gardening when seeds are in short supply, please share in the comments of this post!

30 comments:

Leigh said...

This is the first time I've been first to comment on one of my own blog posts! I want to share a video on how to grow blueberry plants from store-bought blueberries.

How to Grow Blueberries from Seeds of Blueberry (Quick Method).

There are several videos on this out there. Most use a blender to extract the seed, but this guy's method is even easier.

Cockeyed Jo said...

Leigh, I've heard of this and even tried with some grocery store produce. They first thing people using is that most organic to grow. They have to do their homework on what can be planted and the genus name of what they are trying to grow. Not all what you think are seeds actually seeds like bananas.Those black specks in the fruit are not seeds. Then there's the maturity of the seeds. Most fruits and vegetables are picked under ripe. There's a lit to be considered when using grocery store produce for seeds.

To grow a variety of drying and some fresh eating beans like Limas and black eyed peas etc. I'll grab a bag of 15 bean soup and plant them. Now these will produce a smaller end product over actual seeds if they grow. I've had mixed results. The child is not like the parent, but it's better than nothing. I've done the the same thing with potatoes. The major problem is you don't know if the it determinant or indeterminate. Organic sweet potatoes do wonderfully. Yes you can get hundreds of seeds from fruit, but trees and bush can take years to produce.

I know you've seen the videos on growing regrowing produce from produce. The only problem with that is it's a one to one deal. Just my two cents worth.

Cockeyed Jo said...

Sorry for the typos.

Leigh said...

Jo, you're over-complicating the issue. Firstly, I'm not recommending trying to plant anything and everything arbitrarily, I'm recommending that folks read the article if they're interested in exploring this as an option for their situation. Secondly, I'm not suggesting that this is a permanent option for anyone. If I'm faced with no seeds/no garden or trying to get what I can where I can, I'll choose to try it and hope that next year will offer better options. You've read my books and know my philosophy - "something is better than nothing." Trying to grow something---even if it doesn't produce as well as I hope,---is better than doing nothing. Even if it fails, I learn valuable lessons that I can apply in the future. I encourage people to read the article and give it a try.

Charlotte Boord said...

I bought three organic potatoes from the grocery store ( cut them into 8 pieces) to try to grow them. They cost $1.79, so if they don't grow, I haven't lost much. If they do grow, I'll have eight plants and hopefully 2-3 dozen potatoes.

Leigh said...

Charlotte, good to hear from you! Last year I planted organic grocery store potatoes in pots and they did very well. I would have harvested more, I think, if I'd used larger pots. But it was an experiment and I was encouraged by the results.

Leigh said...

Here's an idea for growing potatoes by Yukon Mike over at Living Prepared.

Growing Potatoes No-Hilling Method Experiment

Tom Stewart said...

Leigh,
Long time no talk. The inside of the house is done (Mostly) and we are working on the raised beds and getting things planted. Here on the Big Island a lot of things will not grow, But we have found that store produce, things like Onions and Cabbage will regrow if we do it right, Hydrate onion root sections and then plant them in the garden and plant the root section of the Cabbage and 9 times out of 10 it will start a new plant.
I am sure you already know this, But just saying

Nancy @ Little Homestead In Boise said...

Good ideas! Yes, better something than nothing if you have to feed yourself. I've had decent luck buying seeds, even this week. Some places here (Boise) sold out early, but I did try a few different places. We're lucky there's quite a few feed stores, etc., around to find things. I just loaded up a few weeks ago on small summer veggie starts like tomatoes. I've posted a few organic seed sets Amazon on my blog, since I have heard this as well. I think a lot of smaller seed companies have run out quickly. Hopefully next year things may be better, maybe not. I will be saving some seeds from crops this year to be on the safe side!

Ed said...

I've done that before with store bought garlic and it turned out well. I know there are other things one can do as well.

At least in our area, there is a run on seed starts as we've had to get there on they day they are delivered to have any selection. However, the actual seeds themselves have been plentiful. Of course I bought my seeds a few weeks ago so perhaps things have changed since then.

Goatldi said...

I will read it soon. I did some research on using my sugar snap peas for next season planting. The one reoccurring theme was be sure your original plants were not hybrid.

Soon the last of the plants sit with water cut off. I have gotten crop production since last Fall and needed to let the plants go finally to cure and harvest them dry on the vine. Also I plan on putting Yukon Gold potatoes for canning i. The two stock tanks the peas, spinach and kale occupied.

Cockeyed Jo said...

I apologize Leigh. I was over complicating it.

Leigh said...

Tom! Wow, it's great to hear from you! Are you blogging again? Thanks for the great tips. I've never tried either onions or cabbage as you describe, but I'll have to give it a try.

Nancy, I'm glad to hear you haven't had problems getting seeds. Feed stores are a great place for plants. I hope next year is better, but I think it's best if we all plan for the worst.

Ed, I've had good success with store garlic as well. I'm glad to hear seeds are still available in your area. I've been seeing them here as well, but I mail ordered early.

Goatldi, yeah, hybrids can be tricky. Sometimes they're sterile, and sometimes you get something edible, although not what was expected. Sounds like you're doing well with your garden! Will your cool weather crops produce all summer?

Leigh said...

Jo, I think you were on a different track! You're always a go-to for good ideas. I just worry about people not having what they need to grow a garden if they want one. Picking up on some good ideas here.

Renee Nefe said...

I am attempting (again) to grow lettuce from the core of my last head...it is red leaf lettuce. I first put it in water and almost immediately little leaves shot out from where I had broke off the previous leaves. Then I moved it to a seed starter greenhouse that we have...tends to dry out faster, but it isn't dead yet!

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Hi Leigh, Thanks for the information. Too busy to blog but appreciate these sites. Nancy

Leigh said...

Renee, interesting! Good experiment. :)

Nancy, I've been wondering about you! I'm glad all is well. I've always loved your gardening posts, and look forward to them again once your weather warms up.

Quinn said...

Leigh, the seed shortage is certainly true for me, and I found out by experience before I ever heard about it as "a thing." Even back in March I couldn't find the few items I'd planned to buy. Fortunately I save the basics - pole beans and winter squash - every year. My garden will look a bit different from what I had planned on all Winter, but I'll plant every available space, as usual.

Leigh said...

Quinn, that's discouraging. Maybe some of the ideas in that article will be worth an experiment or two.

Boud said...

I remember reading about this concept many years ago in a book called The After Dinner Gardener. It's a great idea. I've been growing a container of potatoes every year, just put a sprouting spud in a big container on the deck and get a couple of pounds of new potatoes a few weeks later. Also a bonus that the plants flower nicely.

I must remember to do apple seeds from my daily apple just for the fun of germination rather than hoping for a crop.

Kristina said...

I will read this later today too. We expect another rain storm. As far as seed shortage, I had a terrible time ordering mine this year. I could not get the same seeds, and I ordered early. I think more people are growing gardens due to this now.

Goatldi said...

I’m not sure since this is my first year here. But I’m thinking it does get warm enough where I am that probably not or maybe marginally in the shade but will find out I’ll keep you posted. I do have a long growing season from fall to spring if it’s a mild winter. my snap peas in the ground beginning in October and they’re still there drying out now and they have tons of pea pods on them so I would say if we’re lucky no harsh winners there’s that to look forward too but I know it can get down to low winter temps and occasional snow.

Leigh said...

Boud, thanks for the book recommendation. I'm especially curious about vegetable seeds, although I buy very few vegetables any more. Still, can't help but be curious.

Kristina, I agree more people want to garden because of the pandemic. Some for something to do, and others to feel like they've got a little control in their lives. Now some media outlets are predicting food shortages. It's a good time to start a garden.

Goatldi, you've got some garden condition learning to do! Always a challenge at a new location.

Quinn said...

Leigh, I forgot to mention in case you didn't see it on my blog - I've offered to send Candy Roaster winter squash seed from my 2019 organic candy roasters to anyone who would like to plant them. They take a LOT of room and need watering if you have a dry spell, but I've found them hardy and productive. If you search "candy roaster" on Comptonia, you'll find pictures and info. Just drop me an email if you'd like some seed :)

Leigh said...

Quinn, that's really generous! I grew candy roaster for the first time last summer and saved some seed! I think it's the best winter squash I've ever grown.

The Happy Whisk said...

I was thankful to be able to get everything I wanted online but I did it earlier. And then I saw that there was one new place that I wanted to try but they were closed, so maybe next year. But I saw that some of the seeds I did buy are sold out now from the one seller. But overall, no complaints on my end and ... a friend of mine and I are swapping seeds which I think, is THE MOST FUN EVER!

Leigh said...

Ivy, early is always a good idea, and who knew there would be a problem this year? Great idea to swap seeds with friends!

Goatldi said...

You speak the truth. Looking forward to the journey!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, am I weird that this seems like a non-issue to me? Good heavens, I have grown potatoes and garlic from store bought. I like to buy seeds from companies I can support, but in a pinch, one does what one needs to.

Leigh said...

Goatldi, me too!

TB, I think it's only an issue if all the seeds you want are out of stock! A lot of us have used grocery store produce to spawn offpsring: potatoes, garlic, celery, etc. But what caught my attention with this article, is that it talks about collecting actual seed from produce: tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, etc. I liked her advice on dealing with hybrids. They're not necessarily a deal breaker, just expect possible surprise outcomes. If one's options are slim, something is better than nothing!