Frequently Asked Questions
What are Heirloom seeds?
While there is no exact definition for the term heirloom there are many characteristics regarding what constitutes an heirloom that gardeners do agree on.
- Heirloom cultivars are always open pollinated. This means that a seed saved from the plant will produce the same variety year after year. For example, if you plant a Bull Nose Pepper, collect and store the seeds from the mature fruit and replant the seeds next year, another Bull Nose Pepper plant will grow. This is not true of hybrids. Seeds from hybrid plants will either produce sterile or unpredictable varieties. Genetically modified plants can NOT be considered heirloom plants.
- Heirloom Seeds are OLD. Exactly how old a seed variety must be to earn the classification of heirloom is highly debated. Most gardeners agree that Heirloom varieties should be at least 50 years old. Some say the seed must be 100 years old, while others use the year 1945, the end of World War II, as the marking point (1945 was also the beginning of the widespread use of hybrid commercial seed varieties). Commercially marketed, hybrid seeds gained great popularity in the 1970s. Many Heirloom varieties are 100-150 years old and some are much older. For example, some varieties date back to traditional pre-Colombian, Native American crops. Others originated in old European, African and Asian crops. Part of the joy in planting these seeds is discovering the stories within them. For many, the historical stories told by the Heirloom seeds is as much a reason to cherish them as their varieties of color and flavor.
- Heirloom plants are High in Quality and Highly Quirky. Many gardeners are drawn to Heirloom seeds for one simple quality: Flavor. Heirloom plants taste the way we imagine our fruits and vegetables, in a perfect world, should taste. Heirloom plants taste wonderful, look beautiful and (in most cases) are easy to grow.
Heirlooms are also more "quirky" than their predictable hybrid counterparts. Heirloom seeds may be slow to germinate, they may show up after you've given up on them or they might straggle in erratically. Some varieties have "strange" qualities and growing habits that must be learned and appreciated through experience.
- Heirloom plants, vegetables, herbs or flowers are also referred to as "cultivars". A cultivar is an assemblage of plants that have been selected for a particular attribute or combination of attributes, and that is clearly distinct, uniform and stable in those characteristics. Cultivars, when propagated by appropriate means, retain those characteristics
- Webster's dictionary defines "Heirloom" as: "A valued family possession handed on from generation to generation". Perhaps, this is this best definition of all?
Why should I plant Heirloom seeds?
Gardeners choose Heirloom seeds for a variety of reasons:
Regardless of the motivating factor, all agree that the taste and quality of the Heirloom products is far superior to any hybrid or supermarket strain.
- Some people grow Heirlooms for their historical interest, some want to increase the gene pool of our fruits, vegetables and flowers for future generations, others enjoy the element of traditional gardening associated with Heirloom seeds.
- Heirloom seeds that are grown and selected year, after year in a particular region or garden will adapt to that areas soil, climate and pests making it an ideal micro-climate cultivar.
Which Heirloom seeds to you recommend a beginning gardener start with?
All of our seeds hold unique qualities and stories. Please browse our site to learn the details of our products and recommended planting times and conditions. Here are a few suggestions to get you started on your new home garden!
When should I plant my seeds/When is my last frost date?
Not all seeds should be planted at the same time. All of our seeds come with recommended planting times and, most of these recommendations are based on your "last frost date". Some crops, like cabbage, broccoli and lettuce can tolerate a light frost while other, like peas and spinach are very cold tolerant and can be planted whenever the ground can be worked. Squash, cucumber and Basil will die if they are planted too early and exposed to frost. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, even when started indoors, will die if they are transported outdoors prior to the last frost date.
Knowing and planning around the predicted last frost date in your region is critical to the survival of your home garden. The best source for you to research this information is the National Climatic Data Center.
It is also important to know what Planting or Hardiness Zone you live in. Use this map to help you determine your zone.
Here is a summary of which seeds we recommend you plant early and which ones you're better off waiting until after your last frost date:
Seeds to plant in Very Early Spring (as soon as the ground can be worked)
Seeds to plant in Early Spring
Seeds to plant After Last Frost Date
Can I send my Seeds as a Gift?
We offer gift certificates that can either be emailed to your favorite gardener or you can have a paper copy sent on request.
We also offer gift options on most of our products. At the checkout screen you will see a check-box to "See Gift Options at Checkout". Simply check this box at you will be directed to a screen detailing your options.
You can always have a package sent without an invoice and, instead, with a message to the recipient.
If you have questions, or a request related to sending a gift, please don't hesitate to email - Service@eGardenSeed.comor call - 707.SEEDS.10 (707.377.7310)
When will my seeds ship?
We try to ship orders within 5-7 business days after receiving successful payment confirmation. Shipment may be delayed during our busy season or due to inventory. If you need to have your seeds sooner (or later) please let us know and we will work to accommodate you.
Click HERE to see our shipping rates
*A Note Regarding International Orders* Due to the great variety in international postal procedures, international buyers agree to assume the risk of arrival and the responsibility for knowing customs regulations. No refunds or credits will be issued for lost or damaged international seed orders.
I don't see a specific product I'm looking for, can you get it for me?
We are always updating our product selection. If there is a specific seed you are looking for and we do not currently have it listed, please ask. We are always happy to look for and add new products to our growing line. If we cannot carry what you need we will be happy to refer you to someone who does.
How do I contact you?
Please feel free to email us at any time. We will respond to your email in 24 hours or less
By Phone or Text: 707-SEEDS-10 (707-733-3710)
Do you have a catalog?
Sorry, we do not have a printed catalog. We do all of our business online.
Where can I find more information on Heirloom Seeds and Organic Gardening?
Our Gardening Community on Facebook is a fun resource for Gardening tips, and great community interaction:
Here are some of the sites we've found which contain great information and guides related to the heirloom and organic gardening pursuits -
- Organic Gardening - A guide to organic gardening - information on plants, soil preparation, fertilizing, mulching and more!
- More Organic Gardening Another great source for links to information on soil, garden pests, fertilizer and more.
- Interior Design - My Garden Interior Design - Home and Garden How To's
- GreenPeople.org - Eco-friendly products and services.