How To Get Me To Buy A Seed Variety.

I am about to reveal to all those who have to write the thousands of descriptions for all those varieties of seeds in all those seed catalogs how to get me to buy their seeds.

Tell me a story about them. Connect them to a person. That’s the hook for me.

Yes, after twenty plus years of buying seeds, I’ve just figured out that I prefer seeds that are connected to a person, that have a story behind them.

When I read about a tomato variety that is “German type, full, hearty beefsteak”, yawn, I might be sort of interested. But if I read that Mr. Emory Trusty grew these tomatoes for 70 years just 50 miles south of here, and Nature’s Crossroads, a local seed company down in Bloomington, has them for sale as ‘Trusty’, I’m getting them. Getting them. Don’t try to stop me.

Even if the seed catalog writers don’t connect a seed variety to a person, if I can make the connection myself, it doesn’t matter how banal their description is in the catalog, I’ll buy that seed.

They can describe ‘Green Arrow’ peas as “garden peas” for all I care. I’m still going to buy them because I connect ‘Green Arrow’ peas to my Dad. I once found an old seed packet for them in a box of seed packets left from the spring he passed away. That spring might have been the only spring he grew that variety, but that doesn’t matter to me. I’m always going to grow ‘Green Arrow’ because Dad did, at least once.

They can write about ‘Emerald’ okra any way they want. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to try ‘Emerald’ okra because my uncle told me how good it grew for them, 150 miles south of here. I want to try okra. Now that I know about the variety my uncle grows, it doesn’t matter what the seed catalog writers say about all the other varieties of okra, I’m buying ‘Emerald’.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Tell me the story of the seed variety, and I’m likely to want to grow it.  But if too many seed catalog writers start doing this, I'm going to be in big seed trouble.  Or bigger seed trouble than I'm already in...


  1. I am so totally with you on this! Granny's Green German, Box Car Willie's, Sudduth's Brandywine. Attach it to a great story and I have to have it.

  2. I'm thinking you already are in seed trouble Carol. You shouldn't make it easier for those seed pushers. I mean sellers.

  3. I was expecting you to say that if it was hard to grow, you wanted it because you enjoyed the challenge. I like this reason MUCH better. I do the same thing but I didn't realize it till reading this. Thanks, Carol!

  4. Wonderful post! The seeds that matter the most to me are ultimately the ones tied to a story. My favorite story, of course, is the one that's been handed down through the generations along with the heirloom seed. :)

  5. This post made me ponder why I prefer certain seeds/plant varieties over others. You're so is about the story and the connection.

  6. Carol, I love this post. It could be expanded to include attaching gardening itself to those we love and admire. You know how much we both love Miss Lawrence, and how much some of her plants mean to us and so many others. I also bought Royal Hillbilly tomato because my friend, The Tomato Man, selected for it.

    A connection to love is what makes the whole girl go round.~~Dee

  7. I'm the same way. I guess that is why I love BaKer Creek's catalog so much.

    So I take it you have been reading seed catalogs while waiting for the furnace repairman?

  8. Yep, as I revealed in my post on 'Seed Orders - Making Good Choices', we do tend to get seduced into buying seeds online because of the awesome photos. But, sure, if there's a personal connection of some kind with the seed, I'm there.

    Same with plants. The F.J. Grootendorst rose was developed in Holland in 1918 (the place and year my mother was born), and called the 'carnation rose' because the blooms resemble a carnation (my mom's favourite flower). Hey, I'm buying that rose!


  9. would you please spend a few minutes and check out my blog. I am a farmer who has been raising over fifty breeds of chickens for forty years.

  10. I am that way with plants, too. If I read that a plant came from or at least was grown in a garden I admire, I want to have that plant in my garden, too.

  11. The cachet of a story or a name can be a strong pull. When tending a plant, it's fun to imagine the originator or breeder of that plant and what they must have felt seeing and feeling the same thing that you do.

  12. That's the joy of gardening, isn't it Carol? From seed packets sold by pushers (tm Leslie, above comment) to the passalong plants we receive and share, there are stories behind every green leaf, every fruit or veg, every flower. That's one of the best things about this habit--whoops, I mean activity--we share.

  13. Ah, very logical. Were I a bonafide seed purchaser I think I'd probably succumb to the same thing. I've been thinking about what ties us to certain plants lately. This fits right in.

  14. This connection of names to certain plants quite amused me, because i am a horticulturist and know why they are so. Some breeders or big companies want to give respect to the breeder or immortalize their names. In this country the scientists put the names of the first ladies as cultivars (with 'cv') placed after the scientific name to Mussaenda hybrids. Then 35 cv of Hibiscus were named after prominent ladies of science. But the normal ordering of seeds common in big countries are not yet common for local folks. We can always ask the owner or a neighbor for some seeds or cuttings. Only big farms order seeds through the mails.

    How interesting!

  15. Thanks for making it a little easier for us seed pushers to make a living! :) Seriously, it's stories like Mr. Emory's that originally got us into the seed business. So cool to make connections between a person and a plant like that.

    (And I wouldn't object to being immortalized as a tomato variety either!)


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