October 23, 2017

Which Seed Catalogue Offers the Best Value?

seed-catalogues

Comparing Seed Catalogue Prices

Gardening Tip – For the week 6th  Nov. – 13 Nov.

The enjoyment of perusing seed catalogues is a pleasure which fills many a winter evening for us gardeners! I have always wondered if there is a large difference in price between the major catalogues. So although I have my favourite catalogues that I buy from every year, I decided to order seed catalogues from a few more suppliers to compare one with the other.  The task was much more difficult than expected! It is easy to compare the price of a hedge cutter from different stores as long as you have the same model, but when it comes to vegetable seeds there are so many varieties that comparison becomes nearly impossible. Here is a list of problems which confronted me:

  • You obviously cannot compare seed prices like for like, unless they are the same variety. Seed companies have a tendency to change the name of varieties even though I am sure they are nearly all the same –take pumpkin seeds for example – I found jack in the box, jack be little, jack o’ lantern, and jack of all trades – leaving me as a master of not knowing the difference between any of them!
  • Another problem is the word ‘organic ‘ as any catalogue can sell you a seed for double the normal price claiming it has been grown organically and therefore fetches a higher price(why? I suppose they cost more to produce – do they really?), but even the word organic can have many meanings as Organic Certification does not have the clearest of guide lines (farmers that cannot find organic seed are legally allowed to use non – organic seed and still call their produce organic, so who can verify that organic seed is organic?).
  • Some varieties of plant do not set as many seed and in turn raise the cost of the seed.
  • Then we have F1 varieties which are more costly to produce, (I suppose).
  • Even if you do find exactly the same variety in both catalogues, since each company have a different count of seeds, a packet costing 95p with 80 seeds is really more expensive than a packet costing £1.20 with 100 seeds, so after examining the price of the packet I had to calculate the price per seed as well!
  • Some seed companies boast that their seeds are vigorously tested for high viability and that means that they are selling better seed – but I believe that all reputable companies today are selling quality seed .

After many hours poring over my seed catalogues, I found two catalogues with 20 common varieties – Kings and D. T Brown. I have produced a table for comparison purposes.

The first column is the price per packet the second the amount of seeds in the packet and the third the price per seed.

Kings.

 

D.T Brown.
Packet price

(pence)

Seed count SeedPrice

 

Packet price

(pence)

Seed count SeedPrice
Aubergine Moneymaker 200 50 4 199 30 6.6
Beetroot Cylindra 100 275 0.4 149 300 0.5
B. Sprouts Maximus F1 295 30 9.8 379 40 9.5
Bean Bunyard 140 50 2.8 199 65 3.1
Bean French The Prince 150 125 1.2 239 150 1.6
Cabbage January King 95 500 0.2 99 450 0.2
 Carrot Flyaway 205 500 0.4 249 750 0.3
Courgette Defender 200 10 20 219 10 22
Cucumber Carmen 235 4 59 399 5 80
Cucumber La diva 190 25 7.6 199 20 10
Cucamelon 145 20 7.3 199 30 6.6
Melon Emir 150 10 15 179 15 12
Rainbow Chard 155 125 1.2 199 125 1.6
Sweetcorn Lark 180 50 3.6 219 35 6.3
Sweet corn swift 195 50 3.9 239 35 6.8
Tomato Sungold 255 10 26 299 15 20
Tomato shirley 250 15 17 299 15 20
Tomato Tumbler 240 12 20 299 10 30
Squash Hunter 195 15 13 199 10 20
TOTAL 3575 1876 211 4461 2110 256

 

If you were to buy all these packets at D. T. Brown it would cost £44.61 whilst at Kings it would only cost £35.75, it is true that you would only be getting 1,876 seeds instead of 2,110 at D.T. Brown, but the last column shows us that the overall price is still cheaper at Kings, and if it would be possible to buy just one seed of each variety, the cost would be £2.56 at Brown’s but only £2.11 at Kings.

seed from seed catalogues

 

I did find that these are the cheapest of the seed catalogues that I had, as it can be seen from the comparison chart below where I have included a few of the other catalogues.

Kings Dobies D.T. Brown Suttons
Packet Count Seed Packet Count Seed Packet Count Seed Packet Count Seed
Cucamelon 145 20 7.25 279 20 14 199 30 6.6 249 20 12.45
Rainbow Chard 155 125 1.24 179 100 1.79 199 125 1.6 279 90 3.1
Tomato Sungold 255 10 25.5 299 10 29.9 299 15 20 299 10 29.9
Tomato Tumbler 240 12 20 279 8 34.9 299 10 30 299 7 42.71
Squash Hunter 195 15 13 249 12 20.8 199 10 20 399 12 33.25

TOTAL    pence   per seed                      66.99                              101.39                         78.2                              121.41

Obviously there are many other factors to take into consideration, postage is only 95p at D.T.Brown and £1.50 at Kings, whilst most others firms charge £1.99. You might also prefer a certain seed catalogue as it gives more growing information or you enjoy the glossy pictures!

One item which had large variation in price was Elephant Garlic

Kings Dobies D.T. Brown Suttons
Packet Count Seed Packet Count Seed Packet Count Seed Packet Count Seed
Elephant Garlic 895 10 90 599 4 150 1195 10 120 599 4 150

 

I could not include shop bought seed, as most shops only begin selling during the early months of the year but shops tend to be dearer then the catalogues besides for discount supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi who sell seeds at rock-bottom prices and I have had very good experience with their seeds  – but one can hardly use them in a comparison table to as they mainly have foreign varieties!

Verdict for the Cheapest Seed Catalogue

Kings definitely seems the overall cheapest seed catalogue with D.T.Brown a close runner up, but cost is not the only significance when choosing seed – varieties that claim to have better qualities is definitely something to look out for.

Being a gardener and not an accountant, I decided to put my calculator away – stop all these calculations, and go to my allotment for a breath of fresh air!!

Boris Legarni .

 

 

About The Author

Profile photo of Boris Legarni

Boris inherited his green fingers from his mother, who was still planting potatoes and rhubarb in the sixties as she was afraid that they would once again be rationed. As a teenager he used to plant radishes in the corner of the school garden and sell them during break time for sixpence, to give his classmates a healthy crunchy snack. He and his wife both have had an allotment for years, but there is no competition – he does the planting and she does the harvesting and cooking. With a passion for growing anything edible, Boris has planted dozens of named fruit trees in his orchard. Nevertheless he is an avid flower arranger, and assists local communities and charities with his flower arrangements. Boris tells us that after so many years on the allotment he has made all the mistakes possible, and he will share with you his practice to make yours perfect!

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