Heirloom Seeds FAQs
What are Heirloom seeds and why should you care about where your seeds come from? Answers to these questions and more…
What are heirloom seeds?
An heirloom seed is seed from a plant that has been passed from one generation to another, carefully grown and saved because it is considered valuable. The value could lie in its flavor, productivity, hardiness or adaptability. Many heirlooms have been grown, saved and passed down for more than 100 years. Some have history reaching back 300 years or more.
For an expanded article describing this and other commonly used (and misunderstood) terms, read What Are Heirloom Seeds?
Will your seeds grow in my area?
Our seeds do very well all across the country, mainly because we focus on mostly heirloom varieties. These are seeds that have been grown, saved and passed down from generation to generation and have proven themselves to do well as families have moved, married and migrated across continents and countries. They have experienced a wide range of growing conditions and climates and have done well enough to be saved and passed down.
We also work with a network of growers across the US, mainly in the intermountain West, that are experts in maintaining the quality and vigor of the seed. This helps ensure that our seeds do well wherever they are planted.
Our main customers are home gardeners and our market is mainly North America (US and Canada) with 85+ countries that we ship to. Because of this, we don’t concentrate on varieties that do well just in our area of Northern Arizona plains and grasslands.
We work hard to provide an accurate description of our varieties and if they are better suited to certain areas or climates. If you have a question if a certain seed will do well for you, just send me an email with the varieties in question and some details on your location and growing conditions and I’m happy to give you my recommendations.
Are your seeds organic?
A growing number of our varieties are certified organic, but not all. There are several factors to consider in looking at whether a seed variety is certified organic or not.
There are certain thresholds of production that a grower must meet in order to become eligible for the organic certification process. One of these is a minimum dollar amount per year produced. Some of our smaller growers who only grow 2 – 3 varieties of beans, tomatoes, etc. will never produce enough seed to qualify for organic certification. Another is the financial ability to put a farm through a 3-year certification process which impacts the volume of crops and products grown, as well as paying for the multiple inspections, paperwork and the certification itself. These fees aren’t a one-time event either, so future financial costs must be considered.
Some of our growers are large enough to produce enough and are able to shoulder the financial and paperwork requirements to become a certified organic producer. These are clearly marked.
There are other concerns with the quality and vigor of “certified organic” seed today, as the increased demand from the consumer for more organic produce has caused an unintended consequence of many hybrid seed growers becoming certified as organic growers, but they don’t have the experience or skill sets needed to produce the highest quality open-pollinated seeds. They are used to hybrid seed production which requires little time in the fields and are machinery friendly for harvesting, which is the exact opposite for heirloom and open-pollinated seed production. The result is “certified organic” seed that is of lower quality, vigor, germination, and production, but people don’t know why.
The answer to this – as well as the answer to getting the highest quality food for your family – is to get to know the seed company and how they source their seeds. We know our growers individually and don’t buy from seed warehouses or wholesale distribution centers. We visit our growers during the harvest to see if there were concerns or needs for the quality of the seeds. If there are issues, we can call the grower directly and not work through the warehouse or distribution center to see what happened.
You need to be comfortable with who you are buying your seeds from!
Do you sell any hybrid seed?
None of our seed is hybrid. We focus exclusively on heirloom and open-pollinated seed that has been selected, saved and passed down from one generation to another.
Is any of your seed treated?
We do not sell any chemically treated seed, either for faster growth, earlier establishment or for fungus or weed suppression.
Our focus is solely on heirloom and open-pollinated varieties of seed, often that have been selected, saved and passed down from one generation to another.
Are your seeds non-GMO?
We are not, do not and will not have anything to do with any bio-engineering or genetic manipulation of our food supply. Underwood Gardens was one of the first signers of the Safe Seed Pledge:
“Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative,
We pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants.
The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities.”
What is your seed guarantee?
We sell only the highest quality seed that has been carefully grown, selected, picked and packed for you. We guarantee that the seeds will germinate for six months from the purchase date, if you follow the individual seed packets growing instructions.
If you have problems with seed germination not due to the weather, gardening abilities or animals, we will gladly work with you to determine the cause and send replacement seeds if necessary. If the underlying problems affecting the seeds germination are not corrected, you won’t have any better results with new seed than the first time! Specific planting information is needed to help us diagnose and help correct the reasons for poor germination. Typically when there are challenges in germination, there are a few main reasons – temperature, soil moisture levels and timing.
Please read our article on germination from a seed’s point of view – Starting Seeds at Home – a Deeper Look.
Please give us specific information about your germination problems; we are here to help! The more detailed information you can provide (planting time, depth, soil moisture, soil temperature, weather conditions, etc.), the better we can help you.
Limitation of Remedy: Terroir Seeds LLC is limited to the purchase price of the seeds, regardless of the nature, cause or extent of loss arising out of the purchase or use of its seeds.
Buyer’s sole and exclusive remedy shall be limited to a refund of amounts paid for seeds. In no event shall Terroir Seeds LLC be liable for consequential damages. By placing an order and accepting a product, Buyer agrees to the above terms and conditions.
Have a question about our shipping, shopping cart or anything else? Answers to these questions and more…
Do you ship to foreign countries? What are the costs?
We generally do ship to many foreign countries, such as Canada, most of Europe and Australia & New Zealand. It is best to contact us directly vie email and ask specifically if you have not purchased from us in the past. Some countries have import taxes and permits that are required prior to allowing the seed order in.
For shipping costs, please contact us directly at the above link with your specific country and location.
Do you have tours or a store?
We do not currently have a retail store and our location is not open to the public on a daily basis.
Do I need to log in or create an account to order from you?
No, you do not and can easily check out as a guest.
If you wish to see your past orders, track shipments or create a wish list for later use, then you will need to create an account which only takes about a minute.
Do I need to be a Member to order?
No you do not. Anyone can order from our store, but Members receive a 20% discount on everything they purchase.
Do you have a printed catalog?
No, we have discontinued the yearly printed catalog. Our website and online store have all of the information and are continuously updated, which is impossible with a printed catalog.