Taking Your Gardening Dollar

Seed Companies: Please Enter The 21st Century

Seedpacket_rant Guest Rant by Tee Riddle, the Veggie Gardener

I must admit, I typically don't have much to rant about in the world of gardening. Sure, I have flipped my cookies when the brand new water hose sprouts eight leaks, or when the handle on that six month old shovel snaps in two, but overall, I thoroughly enjoy all things gardening. There is one thing that's gotten under my skin the last several years. Something I think every gardener has experienced at one time or another. This irritation is summed up with one simple question:

Why aren't seed packets resealable?

While organizing spilling most of my seeds recently, I began to wonder why 99% of seed packets do not have a convenient little Zip-Loc style closure.

How many times have we spilled seed all over creation, while cursing the failed attempts of folding, and refolding, the seed packet openings? I have ventured to the garden many times to find a budding patch of plants I know I didn't plant there. While any new plant is a welcome sight in my garden, I really didn't want those turnips growing next to the Knock Out® Roses.

Countless times I have picked up my favorite seed packet to resow a particular seed just to quickly realize I'm shaking an empty packet. I am positive I only sowed a few plants previously and had plenty of remaining seeds! Certainly, it was a case of SRS (Seed Relocation Syndrome).

You may think I'm being petty; that perhaps I should get a life. You may say, "Just transfer the seeds to a resealable bag if it's that big a deal".

I do end up spending time sorting each variety of seed into resealable baggies, but you are missing my point.

How difficult would it be for seed companies to supply their product in a packet that was already resealable? It would be much easier to reseal the packets while sowing, and not have to worry about mini-rogue gardens popping up in unwanted places.

Come on, seed companies!

It's the 21st Century

It's 2010 A.D.

A resealable container is not some experimental technology featured in the latest Sci-Fi movie. If consumers can purchase cookies and potato chips in a resealable bag, why can't a gardener have a resealable seed packet?

In all fairness, of the three seed orders I made this year (Okay, it was five total), I found one company that does offer resealable seed packets, Seeds of Change. I think it's time for other seed companies to follow Seeds of Change's precedent and feature this simple, yet convenient feature to their beautifully illustrated seed packets.

All in? Say Yea or Nay.

Tee Riddle has been an avid vegetable gardener and weed puller for the past twelve years. You can follow his gardening tips and adventures at www.veggiegardener.com.

Posted by on March 27, 2010 at 4:32 am, in the category Taking Your Gardening Dollar.
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44 Responses to “Seed Companies: Please Enter The 21st Century”

  1. tibs says:

    Yes! Especially since I have such a postage stamp garden that my seeds carry over to a second year.

  2. LM says:

    Unfortunately if they add the closure a pack of seeds will cost $2.50 or more. Seed prices are through the roof now.

  3. Cameron says:

    Seeds from SwallowTail Gardens come in ziplocks inside the envelope. Diane’s Seeds come in ziplocks.

  4. Jenny says:

    Even if they used Post-It type glue on the envelope so you could open and reclose it multiple times…that would be enough for me.

  5. Tee Riddle says:

    tibs, my seeds carry over year to year as well. I usually transfer any opened seeds packs to zip loc baggies, but it would be nice if the packet already did this.

    LM, I don’t think it will change the price of the seeds that much. Of course, I’m not a market analyst, so I could be wrong. I didn’t see much difference in price for Seeds of Change seeds that came with a resealable packet.

    Awesome Cameron! I have never ordered from those places, but will check them out. Thanks.

    I agree Jenny, something would be nice. I have even spilled seeds everywhere just trying to tear a corner off packets before.

    Thanks you for everyone’s comment.

  6. Yea! If you were to look at my collection of vegetable seeds you would find paperclips and scotch tape and masking tape and what ever that blue masking tape is called holding most of them shut and at the bottom of the box a lot of loose seeds rolling around.

  7. Laurie says:

    Sorry I am not willing to pay almost double the price for a packet that reseals when I can seal it myself with a little effort and tape or a paperclip. After all isn’t that what gardening is … doing it yourself rather than paying some one else to do it. Let’s not forget it’s also “GREENER” to have a nonresealable packet rather than using that plastic and glue? I will stick with the greener old style packets and do it myself.

  8. lisab says:

    I do not think resealable seed bags are ecofriendly. The Seeds of Change packets are plastic. I prefer paper. It is 100% recyclable. Plastics cannot be recycled indefinitely. What is your definition of convenience? Mine is clean water and air. Thanks for your post.

  9. My first thought was “how much more plastic garbage would end up dump with those.” I buy a LOT of seeds and when the packets are empty I throw them in with the compost. We reuse plastic bags around here for as long as possible – yes even ziplock bags. Most people don’t do that and would just toss them in the garbage. That’s my worry about resealable packets. That and small seeds getting stuck in the “zipper.”

  10. Gardenmom29 says:

    A small paper clip at the top works pretty well, and they are resusable, but I agree, it is such a pain to have seeds spilling all over the place. You bring up an interesting point.

  11. angelchrome says:

    Baker Creek has a couple that come with reseal. I totally agree though. I just lost the last of a packet of beet seeds to my extreme irritation last week.

  12. GBMF-Matt says:

    We really don’t need to use petroleum for one more thing (plastic to create a zip seal). We don’t need the added cost. And most seeds still contain moisture… and airtight seal will encourage mold growth. I learned that the hard way when I was a budding gardener. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, then you’re lucky.

  13. Gardenology says:

    I agree the environmental and moisture issues should be looked at, but I think this might be the case where you’re better off using resealable and then recycling.

    Maybe they can make the bag much smaller, with a paper insert? Or just add a ziplock top to a paper bag to minimize the plastic? For large volume companies, I doubt a ziplock seal would affect the price more than a penny or two.

    My current solution was to get a 50 pack of tiny ziplocks from the drugstore pharmacy that are meant for your pills. Works perfectly for the seeds I collect during the year for spring planting.

  14. Tee Riddle says:

    lisab, I agree that being ecofriendly would be a challenge. Who said the packet had to be plastic? I’m sure packet/bag companies can put a sealable closure on a paper packet.

    Laurie, I don’t think it would drastically change the prices of seeds. Well, not like you have suggested. The price didn’t rise much, if any, on Doritos when they went to a resealable bag.

    Dog Island Farm, great points! I do not even use plastic grocery bags any more. I bit the dust and bought 20 cloth bags from my local market. No more plastic bags!

    I agree we should find ways to reduce our plastic usage, but it also comes down to more education and awareness on green living practices.

    Truthfully, you are right, the best way to reduce plastic in landfills is to eliminate plastic. :-)

    Thanks for everyone’s comment – great counter-replies.

  15. sara says:

    I got seeds from Bountiful Gardens last week that have a fold-over flap with a bit of rubber-cementy glue that seems to reseal pretty good. But yes, when I get seeds from Baker Creek or Seed Savers, I’m folding and then paper-clipping. Or I’m opening from the wrong end when I’m on a real jiffy-pellet spree, and then end up with a mess that’s harder to keep closed.

    I really would prefer resealable flaps than a ziploc baggie.

  16. Liisa says:

    @Dog Island Farm — I ditto your post (I have a special drawer for my washed and dried “used” plastic bags).

    But Sara is right — just rubber cement would be a good idea. Here’s what I totally don’t get: Territorial Seeds packages SOME of their seeds in envelopes with rubber cement and others in envelopes with the regular glue that can’t be resealed. Why can’t they all have rubber cement?

    I re-use my seeds over a few years too (geez, when is a backyard gardener going to plant 500 carrot seeds in one year?). I triple fold my envelopes and store them all in a paper bag that goes in my fridge. I know that’s not the right way to do it, but I still get decent germination. :-)

  17. anne says:

    How about little paper bags with the same kind of resealable top that coffee bags have (you know, with the bendable wire-reinforced tabs; fold the top over, and fold the tabs over that to keep the top closed)? It would add to the cost, but you could save and re-use the bags when collecting your own seed, or for other things (stray paper clips, for example :) ).

  18. Elizabeth Stump says:

    Why don’t most seed companies have resealable packets? Because paper packets are the standard. A little ziplock top would probably more than triple packaging costs. Even adding a little 3M post-it sticky to seal and reseal would add dramatically to the packaging costs. Having worked in the food manufacturing industry, I can tell you in that business profits are made a fraction of a penny at a time. Save $0.008 here and $0.002 there on each unit shipped. Ever looked at the price of Seeds of Change packets versus other seed packets? They cost a lot more. Is it because their seeds are more “organic” or genetically pure? Not likely. What it is is advertising (fancy catalogs) and packaging costs. I’d bet packaging costs are a big factor. Yes, it’s nice for the bit of ziplock, but for me it’s not worth the cost.

  19. Claire Splan says:

    I think the eco concerns outweigh the inconvenience of packets that don’t reseal. And I don’t think a paper packet with a resealable top would stand up to opening and closing without tearing. Besides, I’ve got much bigger complaints about seed packets. Just trying to get complete, accurate info on them should be the seed companies major goal. Almost all of them need to improve in that respect.

  20. Jeff says:

    Johnnys Select Seeds has resealable openings on most if not all their packets paper packets. It sounds like thier are a few options out there and I for one will be looking into some of the other seed companies mentioned here. Thanks for the post and thanks for the helpful reasonpses

  21. Pam says:

    As far as avoiding the resealable seed packet being plastic, the company could have a flap like a manila envelope.

    I just participated in my son’s “kid city” the other day. I helped the kids fill dirt in pots, and plant little seeds. I noticed how tough it was to open the seed packet along the opening. I ended up having to rip a couple open, and then had a hard time separating the paper to get to the seeds. Maybe it was because I was in a hurry, but I also thought the product could use improvements.

  22. Amy Stewart says:

    Yeah, it’s probably cheaper and more eco-friendly to get the paper seed packet and toss out unused seeds. I know it sounds awful because we love to save things, and there’s something satisfying about a little collection of seeds saved from year to year, but I bet it’s a more eco-friendly approach overall. (Or transfer unused seeds to plastic bags, little glass jars, etc that you re-use yourself.)

  23. sara says:

    Claire Splan just read my mind…
    Complete information on the seed packets would be a huge help. Yes, I have my notes here, somewhere. Under the pile of seed catalogs and books. Oh, maybe they’re tucked into my planting calendar? Nope, gone. Guess I’ll go fire up the ‘puter and do some research again.

  24. luise h. says:

    Looks like I am not the only one with a simple solution: zip-lock bags. I too wash them out and use them over and over.Leave the seed packets like they are,nobody needs the increased cost.And they are bio degradable.

  25. Tee Riddle says:

    Claire Splan, You bring up a great observation! The information contained on most seed packets is very minimal, especially for someone just starting out or planting a new vegetable for the first time.

    You guys have given me some great ideas to use on my own seed packets – thanks!

    I would also like to thank everyone here at Garden Rant for giving me a place to vent. It has been a blast!

    Happy Gardening!

  26. Carolyn says:

    I’m on the side of The Earth. Fold over and paper clip for 35 years. Seed saved too long is enjoyed by birds.

  27. carbetbag_garden says:

    I’m with the people who don’t want to see more plastic, although I admit the zip-lock bags are very useful.

    To keep my seeds, I re-use plastic pill bottles that I get from my grandparents. I pour the packet into the bottle and write the name on the side. The bottles can be re-labeled and re-used when the seeds run out. Old film canisters are also good.

  28. Old Kim says:

    It’s a sin to buy hybrid seed. Worth sealing. OP cheap seed can be harvested from what the season brought. If it was good save your own. It was free.

  29. sowbug says:

    This article is timely; I just dumped 80% of my perilla seed on our carpet.

    That said, I’m fine with unsealable seed packets. If they make them resealable, they’ll have to be plastic, and we have enough plastic in our lives.

    I fold over the top a couple times, sometimes use a paper clip, and that works great 99% of the time.

  30. BelleAq says:

    I agree on the possible cost increase that may be associated with updated seed packages…love my trusty zip-lock bags

  31. greg draiss says:

    So the more we garden the more we pollute by using Seeds of Change?
    The footprint of making paper is much larger than that of plastic.
    Take a look at what goes in to making paper shopping bags vs plastic.

    The TROLL

  32. Chiot's Run says:

    A few of the companies I purchase from have resealable packets, not ziploc ones (which I don’t like for small seeds like alyssum, all the seeds end up in the zipper – GRR).

    Baker creek packets are resealable as are Johnny’s with the sticky gummy stuff. It works well.

  33. Donna V says:

    Of all the problems on this planet – all the dire hunger, healthcare issues, lack of education, pollution, poisons, Monsanto, GMOs, over regulation and under regulation, geeze – never mind.

  34. Rosella says:

    I’m with Donna! We have to choose our battles, and this one just doesn’t seem worth the trouble. What’s wrong with any of the above solutions — resealable plastic bags, washed and re-used, paper clips, Scotch tape, envelopes from junk mail (I get a lot of pleasure out of using the ones from credit card mailings), old pill bottles — surely in our never-endng waste stream we can find a couple of simple solutions.

  35. Nina says:

    I’m a paperclip woman myself. When my hands are sweaty, zip locks can be a tad difficult to open. And, when I’m seed starting at home or direct sowing in the garden, I slow down & take my time.

  36. diane says:

    I always thought they made them like this because you WILL spill them and then you WILL have to go buy more.

  37. Just when I resolved to stop saving seeds from year to year, you all have to give me 15 good reasons and methods to keep saving them.

    Resealable envelopes isn’t my problem, taking the time to store them properly – away from summer’s heat – is my nemesis.

  38. Anna says:

    I just use a little scotch tape. We don’t really need more plastic.

  39. nobody says:

    Everyone’s said it already, but…
    a) moisture
    b) expensive
    c) eco-badness
    d) the seeds get jammed in the seal and don’t pour out easily and then it’s hard to reseal anyway, only now you’re losing seeds on top of it

  40. Pat says:

    Lemons… into lemonade.
    Yes, the seeds escape to spill out into the bin I use to store them from season to season. So, once a year I dump those random, unidentifed seeds in a back corner of my yard. All sorts of stuff comes up (some I recognize) and it becomes a scavenger hunt for plants that can be moved around to fill “holes” in the yard. Serendipity rules.

  41. Jackie says:

    Convenience is nice, but no more plastic, please. You could just use a bit of “sticky tack” to reseal the envelopes. Sticky tack is that gummy stuff that is used to hang posters on high school kids’ walls. It’s reusable.

  42. Matt says:

    I vote nay on re-sealable seed packets, for the following reasons:

    1. Paper envelopes are MUCH more recyclable than plastic or paper/plastic combos.

    2. They would inevitably cost more, which means smaller margins for the smaller seed producers (which we REALLY need to support, in the age of Monsanto trying to take over pretty much everything) or higher costs (and I already spend more than I should on seeds).

    3. Gardeners tend to be a crafty bunch, and will come up with solutions that work for them (as evidenced by the other comments with other suggestions).

  43. I vote to keep the paper packs too – I staple my empty packs into my garden journal. Or just recycle them with rest of my newspapers and such. I use big baggies for short term -seasonal seed pack storage like others here. But for long-term I go with glass jars and a pack of dessicant (free with a pair of new shoes).

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