pea plants
gardening

Why I Buy Bulk Seeds as a Home Gardener

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Currently, my garden space consists of 4 beds each 4 ft by 8 ft. I have a couple of extra corner pots and one small box for strawberries, salad, and herbs.¬†This is the largest garden I’ve had in over 2 years!¬†Even though I’m a small scale backyard gardener, I often buy seeds in bulk and I think you should, too.

Buy Bulk Seeds for Home Gardeners

Seed Quality Matters

Over time, you will develop a sense of which seed companies are the best. I’m fortunate that I started ordering seeds from Baker Creek my first year gardening. I still have some of these seeds and was shocked to see how well they grew this year!

My two favorite brands are Sustainable Seed Company and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

pak choi plant
These pak choi seeds were at least 4 years old. I planted them this spring and had excellent germination!

Seed Size Matters

If I’m buying something with small, lightweight seeds that will grow out to be much larger, I don’t buy in bulk. Lettuce, for example, often comes with like 500 seeds per packet. I do not need ounces of lettuce seed!

However, I have some crops I always grow and often grow in succession, meaning I go through a lot of them throughout the summer. These include some of the recommendations from my list of 5 easy crops for beginner gardeners, including arugula and green beans! I also love to grow peas. Beans and peas both have large seeds, so I would rather buy a larger pack once and plant them for a few years. I will use an entire seed packet of bean seeds for just one planting, and that adds up when you plant the same thing 4 times a season!

There are bulk seeds and then there are BULK seeds.

I do not grow for market, just for my family. When I say “bulk,” I mean, usually, the next size up on the seed bag and not the farmer-sized bag!

Please do not misinterpret this post and think it’s a good idea to invest in 25 lbs of kale seeds if you have 1-2 garden beds in your backyard.

Compare unit prices.

I grow cilantro all summer long and grow a lot right before tomatoes start to ripen for fresh salsa! We devour the stuff and enjoy it in pesto, chimichurri, etc. Basically, we have a rule of “there’s never too much cilantro,” which means we need lots of these seeds. I also plant them pretty close, so in a 4 ft row, I’ll probably plant 35-40 seeds. I sprinkle them heavily!

Check out the prices on cilantro seed from Sustainable Seed Company. This is a direct screenshot from 7/18/2020.

cilantro bulk seed prices

500 mg pack of 35 seeds = $3.14

Price per seed= ~$0.09

1,000 g pack of 4,200 seeds = $9.44

Price per seed = less than $0.01

These price differences are huge! The smaller packet is about enough for how I plant 1 row of seeds. The larger packet has 120 times as many seeds as the smaller packet. With that many seeds, I could plant a lot of really lush rows throughout the year…for several years.

pea plants
I usually plant at least 2 types of peas each year and at least 2 plantings of each!

Again, since I like to buy good quality seed, I can keep these seed bags for years and trust the seeds will still germinate and grow well.

Reduce shipping and packaging waste.

Especially for plants I know I will grow every year and that it will take a lot of seeds to grow each year, I like knowing that I’m only getting one package delivered instead of one this month, one in two months when I reorder what I forgot, one next spring when I buy the same seeds again for the next season, etc. There is less fuel for delivery and less package waste.

Know how to store seeds.

I’m not an expert seed storer. I pretty much store my bulk seeds in a giant box in my pantry. I try not to get them wet at any point in the gardening process. I try to pour only what I need into my hand so I don’t put any seeds back in the bags that may be wet or dirty. That’s all I do and still, I can grow 6-year-old seeds with no problems!

So in a nutshell…here are the seeds I currently buy in bulk:

  • bean seeds
  • pea seeds
  • cilantro seeds

However, this is just because of the types of plants I like to grow. I have also purchased beet and carrot bulk seeds in the past when I grew more of those. Chard seeds are also larger, so if you grow lots of baby chard or have a large plot each year, you may want to buy those in larger packets.

That’s pretty much it. I would definitely consider buying a salad mix in a larger package if I find one I love a lot as I do succession plant so much, but at this point, I can usually handle an entire season of planting with just one salad mix packet.

What do you think? Do you ever grow from “old” seeds? Which plants do you grow all summer long? Tell me below!

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Rachael

Rachael is a schoolteacher who loves to grow her own produce in her backyard garden, cook from scratch, and update vintage furniture for her farmhouse look. She lives in Western Washington with her husband and her cat.

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[…] Beyond being delicious, I rarely have germination or pest problems with green beans! You’ll get a good harvest off the plants and be able to pick them for a couple weeks! I really love succession planting green beans for a harvest all summer long. I always plant a variety of beans, including regular green beans (like the Blue Lake variety), my all-time favorite Dragon Tongue, then a yellow wax bean, and then probably even more Dragon Tongue! I even buy bean seeds in bulk! […]