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It’s the most wonderful time of the year – selecting seeds for the following growing season! It’s also easy to become overwhelmed when making your selections, often buying far more than we could ever possibly plant, and it’s a cycle that we follow every year.
We all have our favourite, trusted, seed suppliers that we use year on year, so let’s spare a thought for anyone new to gardening and share the knowledge. I always love hearing about a great seed supplier, even now!
Some of us also keep our seed suppliers as a heavily guarded secret, but for me, I find it exciting to share what I’ve grown with others, especially when someone asks what something is. I love being asked that question and it excites me so much.
When selecting seeds, write down what you need/want first. This way, you wont be overloaded when it comes to choosing amongst a vast sea of selections and categories. When your seeds arrive, unpack them and store them until you’re ready to start planning. I am not responsible if you acquire many more than you need having put this disclaimer now.
I save all my free seed packets from magazines in the same place too throughout the year. They then come in handy for the following year. Have a look through what seeds you have first too, whilst also checking the expiry dates. Keep ‘expired’ seed aside as most of the time they will still germinate. I find it fun to make my own seed mixes from the expired packs. It’s really surprising what comes up!
If you have packs of seed that you know deep down in your heart that you just won’t grow, give it away to a local seed bank, community garden, on a community group, or regift it to a friend.
Now, lets imagine that you’ve had this imaginary sort out of seed packets you have accumulated over the year, and you still need to buy some seeds. Of course, there’s seed you’ll need to buy fresh each year, such as lettuce, so I have done all the hard work for you and have listed my personal top seed suppliers and why.
Hold on tight for this wild ride, as I may take you to places you have never seen before.
- Mr Fothergill’s Seeds – I’ll start you off gently with a firm family favourite. Established in 1978 and one of the most trusted seed companies in the UK. I had the absolute pleasure of visiting their trial grounds back in the height of summer this year. Working in trials myself, I found it super interesting! I saw everything from the storage to seed packing machines. I have been using their seeds since I started my first allotment over 7 years ago, so it only restored my faith in the brand even more so. You’ll find such a wide range from them, so it’s perfect for a late-night doom scroll, or their search/filter options will help you select what you’re looking for from your list. See my points above on how not to go into a seed frenzy! You’ll most certainly have free Mr Fothergill’s seeds from popular gardening magazines. I see this seed brand as a one-stop shop, whether you’re looking for something old, or something new, you’ll probably find it here.
- Higgledy Garden – Every year Higgledy makes it into my top seed suppliers, and for good reason. Their beautiful hand-made, hand-packed, elegant brown paper, ink-stamped seed packs are divine enough on their own and make the most beautiful and thoughtful gifts. The quantity of seeds you receive is so generous, that one pack should last you more than one sowing. I hadn’t bought a packet of Nicotiana in years, due to buying previous stock from here, having now only this week put in an order for another pack for next year through Higgledy. Due to the hefty seed count, it’s also nice to be able to be a bit liberal when sowing too, which is something you don’t often get the opportunity to do. Ben’s selection is all easy to cultivate too, and I love a selection which I can sow direct into the soil. I don’t have the time, space or facility to propagate indoors or otherwise, and neither does Ben, which is why his seeds are so select. If you’re looking for easy to grow, wildlife friendly blooms, this is your place to go. Ben offers various seed mixes and bundles too, such as a ‘Bee Friendly’ mix and a Biennials bundle. Follow Ben at Higgledy Garden on X (@higgledygarden)
- Plants of Distinction – Here’s the place to go if you’re looking for something different, or shades to compliment your planned display. This site means business when it comes to seed selection. For passionate flower and vegetable growers, Plants of Distinction offer new, unusual, heritage, and heirloom seeds. I am very often swayed by quirky cultivar names too, and if you’re looking to add fun and flare to your space, this is the place to shop.
- Sarah Raven – Another brand I can’t resist, especially when I am in a garden centre. Having also been to Perch Hill this year and seeing how Sarah uses these plants in her space, it’s hard not to be inspired and want to recreate that same feel. If you’re looking to fancy up your kitchen and cutting garden, you can also look into the different collections of seed she offers, as they’re good value for money. The site also offers popular instructional videos by Sarah herself, and one of the top gardening podcasts in the UK, giving you guidance from seed to harvest, which not a lot of other suppliers can boast they also provide.
- She Grows Veg – New for 2024! You might recognise the name as the Instagram sensation Lucy Hutchings (@shegrowsveg). Specifically targeted towards vegetable growers, delivering new and unusual choices for our growing spaces. Started up via crowdfunding, Lucy and her team have been crazy busy behind the scenes, recording content for the site to guide you along your growing journey. It’s hard to resist a site that offers rare, exclusive, culinary seed.
- Premier Seeds Direct – A classic amongst allotment growers, and definitely one of the best seed suppliers out there. The seeds packets aren’t fancy and come with little information as all the growing information is available for free on their website. The packs are budget friendly but also the most generous on the market by far, setting you back at around £1-1.20 a pack. They have a solid base of seeds, and often update their website with new arrivals. You could spend £20 here and not really have to buy any other seeds. They also offer organic, herb, and flower seeds. It’s basic but it’s brilliant. Recently added to their site are vegetable, herb, and flower gift bags where you get 15 packets of seeds for £13, which is a bargain. This is where I buy all my ‘core’ seeds for my allotments.
- Welsh Dragon Chilli – For the heat addicts out there. I came across this devout chilli breeder on X (formerly Twitter) and couldn’t resist the amazing selection of weird and wonderful spicy fruits. Chris Fowler pushes the boundaries of what can be grown in Wales, and his achievements can be followed on social media on X (@ChilliFowler). My favourite of his cultivars are all the peach ones, including my favourite ‘Peppapeach’, which is fruity and fiery.
- Garden Organic – The Heritage Seed Library – A seed catalogue with a difference. It’s only available to Garden Organic members who sign up with the Heritage Seed Library via them. It’s a bit niche but totally worth it for the 6 packets of rare or unique seeds you get to choose a year with your membership when the library opens in December. The HSL maintains the national collection of heritage vegetables and aims to conserve varieties that are not widely available. The seeds aren’t for purchase and only available to members who add the Heritage Seed Library to their Garden Organic membership for an additional cost, however, do keep an eye out for the lovely team at shows, as they have unbelievable passion and knowledge of their seeds (so well worth stopping for a chat), and often have a small selection of seeds with them.
- Franchi Seeds – Another brand we have become used to seeing in our garden centres, and for good reason. Franchi are specialists in endangered and heritage seeds, and ‘lost flavours’, are the oldest family run seed brand in the world, RHS medal winners, and have seeds with The Eden Project. Their delightful seed packets are also very generous, with some of their packets lasting me several years. I recommend the tomatoes, as they’re the best I have ever grown and tasted. Though they are often favoured amongst allotmenteer for their vegetable seeds, they also sell flower seeds, traditional preserving equipment, bundles, and Italian deli. Definitely for those full flavour hunters looking to bring a piece of Italy to their allotment.
- Moles Seeds – Know what you like and need a lot of it? This is your place. Available in larger pack sizes, Moles is for those who are growing on wholesale scales. If I am really keen on a seed, then I buy in bulk from here and store it for when I need it, always having stock to fall back on if something doesn’t quite go to plan. They do sell smaller pack sizes which are really reasonably priced too. They’re independent and well known for the quality of their seed. Whilst their market is aimed at wholesale, they also welcome independent orders. Their gold seed packets always stand out in your seed box, being one of the first I pick up when the sowing season starts.
Wilko – I thought long and hard about putting Wilko back on my list this year but just couldn’t for the time being. With the shutdown of the organisation this year, it left a lot of us gardeners feeling the loss. It’s a brand that made gardening accessible due to the location of their shops, their reasonable prices, and by also being one of the only places you could buy trusted gardening items in the high street. No other places have the selection of bulbs and seeds for the price Wilko sold them for, so when they went under, it left a huge hole in our hearts and our pockets. I almost feel like it’s a consumer/organisation break up.
I know that the seeds are available in The Range, and a couple of new Wilko stores have now opened, but getting Wilko seeds now seems such an effort. Everything is perpetually out of stock on their website too, so everything accessible about Wilko has sadly been lost for the time being. The nearest place for me to get their seeds is about a 30-minute journey from me now, so I don’t think I will bother. I will miss their cheap and broad range – it was brilliant, and I couldn’t have done without them when I first started growing. I just wish it was available. I used to scream from the top of my lungs about how great they were, and now the trust has been lost.
If you can get Wilko seeds easily then go for it, they’re fantastic – they just seem to be rarer than hen’s teeth at the moment.
Are you a seed supplier that’s not on this list? Change my mind. Contact me to try your product.
This blog is based on the opinions of KJ & Dirty Garden Hoe. None of the above companies are affiliates of Dirty Garden Hoe. No services, gifts, or monetary items have been exchanged. This review on 10/12/2023 is a personal review based from experiences of the writer. There are no affiliate links in the review – only redirection to the supplier website.