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.
|B. Sprouts Maximus F1||295||30||9.8||379||40||9.5|
|Bean French The Prince||150||125||1.2||239||150||1.6|
|Cabbage January King||95||500||0.2||99||450||0.2|
|Cucumber La diva||190||25||7.6||199||20||10|
|Sweet corn swift||195||50||3.9||239||35||6.8|
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.
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.
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
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 .