Seed Buying Secrets

What would you call the love of buying and sowing seeds?

I would call it sporosphilia, using the Greek word “sporos” for seed and “philia” for love. Conversely, I would call the fear of seeds, sporosphobia. (which should not to be confused with kipourikosphobia, the fear of gardening.)

I love sowing seeds, so I guess that makes me part of that subclass of gardeners that could be referred to as sporosphiliacs.

To date, I have purchased 69 packets of seeds. That’s one more packet than last year when I purchased 68 packets, and a lot more than the year before when I stopped at 52. Add the six packets of seeds that Botanical Interests graciously sent me to review, and I’m up to 75 packets of seeds.

Like many gardeners, I get a lot of seed catalogs in the winter time, beginning in late October and continuing through to today when I got another catalog in the mail from a seed company, although I think this new catalog is mostly for plants.

Would you like to know a secret about me and these seed catalogs?

I don’t read most of them.

There are just a couple that I opened up and looked through, including the beautiful, and much blogged/tweeted about Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog that was too full of Big Beautiful Vegetable pictures to ignore. I also looked through the Pinetree Garden Seeds catalog because I usually buy a lot of seeds from them. They have fewer seeds per packet, but it’s as many seeds as I usually need, and the price per packet is less.

Would you like to know another secret about how I decided what seeds to buy this year?

I bought from memory, from a sense of knowing what I needed.

You would think that I would mark, highlight, and circle all kinds of “must haves” in all the catalogs, list them all, decide that I can’t buy 200 packets of seeds, whittle the list down some more, then sleep on it, check the list again, compare prices, get a new seed catalog in the mail, so start the process all over again, or something like that.

I did none of that. After reading through the few catalogs that I thought had something to offer, I simply went to their websites, and ordered seeds.

I ordered based on what I knew I needed after years of ordering seeds. I was quite methodical about it, mentally going through all the vegetables and flowers I grow from seed and ordering the ones I knew I needed. I was “in the zone”, so to speak.

Tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, peas, early spring vegetables, flowers, flowers, flowers, corn… one by one I just ordered up what I thought I needed. Then a few days later I went to the store and saw a big display of seeds and bought some more seeds.

Now that I have all the seeds I ordered and purchased, I’ve gone through them and decided I did a pretty good job picking out my seeds for 2009. In the next few days, I’ll list them out on a spreadsheet to double check that I have all that I need and get myself organized to make sure I start the seeds inside that need to be started inside. I want no seed to be left behind!

Even before I list all the seeds that I have, I know that I don’t have all the seeds that I want. I want to grow impatiens from seed, and I didn’t get any seeds for them. I would also like to grow Swiss chard again and actually harvest some of it to eat and not treat it as an ornamental. I forgot to buy those seeds. And I’m sure I’ll read on someone’s blog about something wonderful that they are growing from seed, and I’ll want to grow that, too.

Would you like to know one more secret about seed buying?

I think buying and sowing seeds is addictive.

It’s almost magical, somewhat mesmerizing, perhaps even a bit miraculous, to sow tiny seeds, some as tiny as little specks that you can hardly see, and then a few weeks later have a flat of tiny seedlings, which then grow into beautiful flowering and fruiting plants.


  1. When you're not busy coining acronyms, you're coining new words. Isn't there a sporosphiliac self-help group, association, or club yet? And what would the acronym be?

  2. I caught sporosphilia volunteering at the botanical garden. I have all kinds of crazy stuff I grew from seed, potted up and scattered here and there--many things I will never plant out (big trees, etc) in my tiny garden. The garden is full, but still I buy and sow seeds. It's a sickness!

  3. You're waaay ahead of me this year with 69 packets. I've probably bought half that since last fall.

  4. Wow, that is way more than me. Of course that wouldn't take much because this year I bought one (1) packet of seeds.

    I love them in theory.

  5. OMG! You ARE nuts! 69 packets??Woman, who ya gonna feed? Rhode Island?

    I wish I could find that quote, something about the magic of a seed the size of a baby's fingernail, when planted, can become a 20# watermelon to feed so many people. Magic. Seeds are magic.

  6. Hi, my name is Robin, and I am a sporosphiliac. There now, I feel better already. I confess that I do have a seed addiction. I have so many seeds, I'll never get them all sown, but I'll definitely be trying!

  7. I thought I had bought a lot, now it doesn't sound so bad :)

  8. Did you actually plant all the seeds you bought last year?

    I often buy seeds and then maybe plant only half a packet. Or buy seeds when they come out in spring intending to plant them for the fall garden (because spring is already too late for planting some seeds and they might not be available in the fall.) But I always seem to have a lot of seeds leftover and forgotten. Especially since I save my own seeds to share with other people and a lot of time I have tins full of cilantro, larkspur, and bluebonnet seeds awaiting homes.

  9. Do I detect the symptoms of sporosmania? ;^)

  10. I bow to your seed and seed ordering prowess!

  11. I've started roses, hostas, trees, and everything else from seeed....I guess I'm an addict too.

  12. I am such a seedaholic! There are worse things, though, aren't there? ;-)

  13. Great post again! Yesterday I was talking on the phone to a friend and we were exclaiming the same excitement and wonder about the beautiful plants that spring forth from a tiny seed!!

  14. Guilty of sporosphilia or sporosmania and the buying is not yet done! Gotta get the sweet peas.

  15. I'm similar in my seed buying. It sounds like you've gotten everything you need. Now, about that spreadsheet, that sounds like a lot of work. Will you put it in your Lee Valley garden journal? I do wish the garden journal had pockets.~~Dee

  16. Add another crown to your collection, Carol, for you are the Queen of Seeds!

  17. This year I was good. I wrote down all the seeds I wanted and then figured out how many new things I REALLY needed and pared my list down. I ordered my seeds (from Pinetree). I congratulated myself on restraint. Then I proceeded to trade, get free seed and what not until I had way too much. Where oh where will they go?

  18. Buying seeds is like buying shares in a dream. There is a hope, that somehow the plant will perfectly fit in your garden. That it will be as lush and colorful as the package.

    Holding a dream in your hand, most of the time for under a $1.oo.



  19. what do you say about planting seeds taken from fruits and veges we buy at the grocery store?
    This blog post
    says you can just buy beans, peppers, whatever, eat them and plant the seeds, would that work?!?

    And what about seeds from fruits/veges from farmers market?
    I kept some peach pits from last year when I purchased a TON of peaches to can. Could I plant those to get a peach tree?

  20. Considering this is only the second year I have started seeds indoors (or will, I should say) and last year's attempt was less than successful, I don't think I have to worry about being a sporosphiliac yet. But if all the seeds I bought this year make it to the garden, I might be hooked as well. Are there warning signs I should look for??

  21. Hi everyone, my name is Di and I am a sporosphiliac! I haven't bought 69 packets this year (yet), but between my purchases and trades I probably have around that number. And nope it wasn't me that bought another 4 packets yesterday of pumpkin, bunching onions and nasturtiums. nope that was my twin.

    Trishia, yep you can plant grocery store produce seed but it's a crap shoot as to what comes up :) I have a blog post about it coming up on Thursday. I experiment every year with something. Last year was grape tomato from grocery store, grew fine, fruited and tasted great. Chili peppers didn't do so well but I have high hopes for the thai chili this year. I have 2 tree saplings (lemon and apple) from seeds from the farmers market. My opinion is you'll lose nothing but some potting compost, a container and some time so why not try it?

  22. Yes, sowing is addictive, perhaps even more than gardening is.
    Our now 12 years old son got infected years ago, and it is becoming an almost incurable thing... (Now, me and my husband don't sow much: that's all done by our son. He has found some hamamelis seeds today, and of course, he's gowing to sow them.)

  23. Let me see...there's about 25 seeds in most packs many? Where are you going to plant them all. Can't wait to see the results.

  24. Thanks for the resources! Heading over to check them out now...

  25. My friend I share your addiction. I am guessing I have more than 40 this year. But oh, what joy....wander....and anticipation in such a tiny thing. I love the idea of having something "different" or having "many plants this year" (like I have so few already) It gets me everytime!

    Happy Gardening!


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