Author Topic: Where to buy assortments of seeds for a specific zone? (Zone 4 in my case)  (Read 5840 times)

Offline _jeffschultz

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Hey there!

Is there an online retailer that sells assortments of vegetable seed packets by zone? I'm just getting started with raised bed gardening and would like to purchase a mix of varieties that have been proven to grow in Minne-soh-ta. Burbees, Gurney's, and the other big eTailers seem to offer soooo manny choices for each type of vegetable, I'm experiencing the paradox of choice.

I'm looking for basics to get going: tomatoes, peppers, beans, potatoes, onions, carrots, rasberries, honeydew, etc., etc.

Give me a big kit that says Zone 4 and I'll be happy. :)

Thanks for your patience if this has already come up in another thread. I spent about 15 minutes searching and surfing and couldn't find my answer.

Take care and thanks for the help,
Jeff Schultz

Offline Cedar

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Offline David in MN

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Well, couple things. First off, the annuals don't matter. Unless you select an annual that takes more summer than we get you'll be fine. I like Beefsteak tomatoes best so they're the ones I grow the most of. I like zucchini so I grow a ton... you get my drift.

For perennials you have some options. Either go through the catalogs (and you'll be able to ignore about 75% of them being so cold) or get in touch with the U of MN ag department where a lot of great work is done to provide gardeners with advice on suitable plants. They have excellent resources for apples and grapes in particular.

You are really limited being so cold but the limitations make it easy. Having a Honeycrisp (which should be our state tree) is obvious. Currants grow well if you like them, and berries in general are good. You will have varied results based on soil, sunlight, etc.

There is this one guy around here in MN who offers free raspberry plants to locals every spring when he cuts them back but I hear he's kind of a jackass.

Offline I.L.W.

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Normally, I would say:

Look for local seed & plant exchanges. There's a "National Seed Swap" initiative which many cities participate in, occurring on or around Jan 30 (often the weekend preceding or following that date). Then you're getting seeds saved by local growers. This is very important, as the cold hardiness is not the only factor. You must also consider day-length. Zone 4 Colorado for example is very different from Zone 4 Alaska. In Colorado, days are shorter, but they get more warm days. In Alaska, they get very long days, but the season is much shorter.

So if you were in Alaska, a 140 day pumpkin is a bad choice, even though it's hardy to that zone. It'll grow huge, set hundreds of flower, look great, then frost kill before anything ripens. A 90-100 day variety would be better.

In Colorado, shorter days means slower growth. Those 90-100 day pumpkins will tend to be smaller, with fewer fruit. A longer season plant that can get better established before flowering will be much more productive.

Hardiness maps don't factor this in. They just tell you what the minimum average temperature is in the general region. That information is crucial, but it's misapplied when seeds are chosen solely on that premise. Local heirlooms will do a lot better for you, as they are selected for performance with all of the other factors in mind.

Here's the bad news... You live in a Nazi State, lol. Seed swaps are still kinda illegal in your state. Yeah... you heard that right. State Statutes section 21.80-21.92

It was worse last year, but the state legislature repealed the part which expressly prohibited seed swaps. You are now free to give away seeds. Trading them is a gray area where the barter may be seen as a form of sale, and would thus be subject to seed sale regulations. Sale of seeds is still highly controlled. It also stipulates that it applies to non-commercial endeavors. You can't acquire seed through this mechanism for a commercial farm, as the seeds are not certified to be the crop you're trying to sell. Likewise, you cannot sell seeds acquired in this way until they are tested and certified. Personal use is fine, but nothing beyond that is allowed without running into the red tape again. It was a minor win, things are definitely better than they were, but it's still fairly draconian.

To sell seeds within the state, you need to be licensed, adhere to strict labeling guidelines, perform germination tests, certification of the content of other "weed seeds", and of course, pay fees for the privilege of being bullied. Many states have similar laws about sale of seeds (which is why seed packets all contain similar labeling information), but most states exempt private exchanges from the statute, even for sales of seeds under a certain volume or dollar amount. Minnesota does not, and they have a record of shutting down advertised seed exchanges. It's a real pain in the ass. In fact, even some of the bigger seed suppliers won't sell directly to residents of the state. When you load up their catalogues on the website, you see a limited selection of things which meet the requirements, and many other seeds are omitted.

There are three options:

• Live within the confines of this law.
• Take a road trip to the Governer's mansion and hurl your own excrement at the windows until it's fully repealed.
• Find a loop-hole...

You can buy and sell seeds contained in produce marketed as food. If someone sold you seed for butternut squash, they could be hit with a fine. If they sell you the actual squash containing the same seeds, that's fine. Obviously, this doesn't work for every plant, but it's a good start. And of course, now they can finally just give you the seeds without fear of a fine, but honestly purchase is the normal way of conducting such exchanges, and a seller's hands are still tied in that regard... Just hit up a farm market.

While the recent changes to the law mean you can technically find a legal seed swap now, they are a recent addition to your area (none with years of establishment), and a lot of people who get into organizing them are intimidated by the very thin line they need to walk to keep their event legal.

With this in mind, I encourage you to find a seed exchange in the area and give them your support. Drag friends and family to it and get the word out. They'll be limited until they hit a critical mass of regular patrons. They'll be a little lack-luster now, but if people go to them, eventually they will grow and become much better.



Links:



Sorry for the image spam... but I'm a gentleman. Knowing how most interactions with the state go, it didn't seem right to link you to their site without them. By the way, the safe word is "Voluntary Tax Assessment", just in case things get too rough. ;)

MINNESOTA SEED LAW

Offline David in MN

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I honestly didn't know why nobody saves seeds around here. Thanks for the explanation. I was interested in banking a few years back to save some money but felt like a loner.

There is nothing you could say about stupid laws in MN that would surprise me. These people would vote in Pol Pot given the choice and spend the rest of their lives talking about how they made the courageous decision.

Unfortunately it's just one more reason why no one with any common sense should live here. I guess it proves how much I love my wife that I'll live in a frozen hellscape full of socialists just for her.

Offline Cedar

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While the recent changes to the law mean you can technically find a legal seed swap now, they are a recent addition to your area (none with years of establishment), and a lot of people who get into organizing them are intimidated by the very thin line they need to walk to keep their event legal.

How many people have gotten around the Food Swap thing (the government was banning it in some places as they were not getting their cut of the 'barter' which is a monetary thing for them)..is they started holding them at private homes, instead of publicly. Contact a garden club or something and host a party.

Cedar