Where to Buy Heirloom Seedlings if You Can’t Start Them Yourself


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 Welcome back to Tuesdays in the Garden! Today’s topic is spring veggies – growing and eating. Since seedlings are also a big part of spring gardening, I’m sharing a list of where to buy heirloom seedlings if you can’t start them yourself. Finding heirloom seedlings ready to plant can be a challenge, and this list of five places to look might be a big help. Where to buy heirloom seedlings when you can't start them yourself

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I enjoy starting my own seeds have done so for the last 7 years in a row. But truth be told, it’s always stressful! Pulling out the shelf and equipment. Watering every day. Harding them off. What if they don’t grow? Who’s going to babysit them when we go on spring break (we always go on spring break!) In years past, I haven’t let those complications deter me. But this year, we went to Europe right at the time when I should have been starting seeds and lining up seedling babysitters. Instead of stressing about it, I decided to let seed starting go this year.

I’m not starting my own seedlings this year!!- even though I did buy new tomato seeds for varieties I’d really love to grow in my garden. But not starting my own seeds presents a challenge – because I REALLY want to grow heirloom plants. They’re hard to find if you don’t know where to look. So instead of starting my own heirloom seedlings this year, I decided to come up with a list of where I can find heirloom seedlings started by someone else instead. I’ll keep you updated with what I find – but here’s where I’ll be buying heirloom seedlings this year!

Where to Buy Heirloom Seedlings if You Can’t Start Your Own Seeds

Buy Tomato Seedlings

Farmer’s Markets – 

Local farmer’s markets are great places to find heirloom seedlings. I haven’t visited any farmer’s markets yet this year, but I definitely remember seeing seedlings there in years’ past. Do you find heirloom seedlings at farmer’s markets? Locally, I plan to check out Freight House Farmer’s Market in Davenport and the Iowa City Farmer’s Market too.

Azure Standard

I have ordered lovely heirloom seedlings from Azure Standard (called Sarah’s Starts) and have been quite pleased with their quality. Last year, I grew a couple heirloom tomato plants from Azure Standard and also fun broccolis and cabbages. If you haven’t heard of Azure Standard before, they are an organic bulk food coop out of Oregon and deliver organic and non-gmo food and supplies all across the country. I’ve been buying in bulk from them for years and they are one way I keep my grocery budget low. You can read more about why I like them in this post.

Local Nurseries – Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menards, even Walmart

While I haven’t found a huge variety of heirloom seedlings at local nurseries, I do find a few every year. Cherokee Purple tomato seedlings seem to be a popular heirloom for big box stores to sell and I’ve seen a few other varieties too. It does take some searching, but if you look hard enough, you might find a few heirloom seeds at the big box nurseries. And Walmart! I’m not a big Walmart fan, but I really do like their nursery sometimes. They have the biggest selection of seedlings in my rural area. I’ve enjoyed buying chocolate mint starts at Walmart and other fun herb varieties that I don’t see elsewhere.

Ask friends who garden – 

It might seem an imposition to ask friends who garden, but as a person who has had good luck with seedlings in the past, I know that I happily pass my own leftovers to friends who want them! I’ve had to work hard some years to get rid of my extras and I’m always glad to find good homes for them. Facebook is a great place to advertise extra seedlings and Facebook groups are a good place to look. You can always offer your friends a barter or to pay for the seedlings, if you want!

Order direct from seed companies and sometimes even Amazon!

Two of my favorite seed companies ship out plant starts, both Seed Savers in Iowa and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Missouri. I’ve never ordered seedlings from Seed Savers, but if you’re in the market for unique heirloom tomatoes, herbs, and peppers, definitely check out what they have to offer.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds sells heirloom sweet potato slips. I ordered a sampler last year and the plants were delightful. Unfortunately, my dogs dug up all but two of of them, and the two that were left, while prolific growers, didn’t produce much of anything. 🙁 Could be grower error, though. I have no idea why I didn’t get any sweet potatoes. The starts themselves were lovely, so it was probably grower error.

And did you know you can buy seedlings on Amazon? I want to say I am surprised to see that they sell them, but honestly, you can find everything on Amazon. I haven’t seen any heirloom seedlings yet, but it’s worth checking back for sure! Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs are all on amazon and they ship free with Amazon Prime.

And that’s where I’ve found heirloom seedlings started by someone else! Have you found heirloom seeds to buy somewhere else? Please share in the comments!

Tuesdays in the Garden 2017

Tuesdays in the Garden!

You’re in for a treat with this week’s Tuesdays in the garden posts! From growing spring crops, to eating them – we’ve got you covered. Check out what my gardening buddies are up to this week by clicking on the photos or the links beneath.

tips for growing kale
From Shelly @FrugalFamilyHome – Tips for Growing Kale

Tips for Growing Peas

From Angie @AngleFreckledRose – Tips for Growing Peas

Tips for growing rhubarb

From Diane @HomemadeFoodJunkie – Tips for Growing Rhubarb

Shrimp & Asparagus over White Bean Puree

From Jami @ An Oregon Cottage – Shrimp & Asparagus over White Bean Puree

Favorite Recipes with Spinach

From Patti @Hearth & Vine – Favorite Spring Recipes with Spinach

5 recipe ingredients to grow in your spring garden From @BrenHass – 5 Recipe Ingredients to Grow in Your Spring Gardens

Where to Buy Heirloom Seedlings if You Can't Start Them Yourself

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. I love this idea. I usually wait until the end of May or June to buy locally and I know of a few that have a good selection but I can’t believe that I did not know that you could actually order seedlings online. I’ve ordered seeds and plants but never seedlings. Oh no, this could be trouble! 🙂

    1. Whoops, sorry Patti! 🙂 It’s hit and miss for me to find them here, so I had to come up with an alternative.

  2. Michelle, Thank you for the great tips on finding heirloom seedings. We do have some great local suppliers around here. Our food coop and local farmers market are good connections in our area for organic heirloom starts. I’m definitely going to be looking up Azure Standard! I haven’t heard of them. Sounds like a great company.

    Glad your family had a fantastic trip to Europe. I enjoyed following your travels on Facebook!

    1. You should check out Azure Standard! They’re in your state!! 🙂 I think you can even pick up their seedlings locally if you’re close enough.

  3. I’ve gotten heirloom seeds from Azure Standard in the past and I’m sure the seedlings are great too. I know I’ve seen a few heirloom varieties even in the garden center at the grocery store which is really nice.

    I hope your family had a great trip!

    1. We had a great trip, Shelly. It’s good to be home, though. I’m making big gardening changes this year!

  4. I love your no-stress attitude! Gardening is no fun if you are just full of anxiety about things like seed starting. I try my best to plan, work and then relax. If I don’t, I feel like I’m gardening for the wrong reasons! I try to attend as many farmer’s markets as I can in my area and support the local produce. I love when they have plants 🙂 I’ve learned so much that way. I’ve never heard of Azure Standard – thank you for the introduction. I wish I had a drop in my area! I frequently shop at local nurseries as well. I had no idea Walmart had plants! I never thought of Amazon either. I have been looking to buy some aquatic plants and pond plants from Amazon recently, so that makes sense though! I must be the only crazy person paying extra plus s&h for Frogbit! hah! I will definitely be taking a look for sure. Thank you for all of these wonderful ideas 🙂

  5. Hi Michelle, I love that this lists covers all the different options from retailers like home depot,to amazon, to local nurseries, it makes the challenge of finding seedlings feel much more manageable. I wanted to let you know about another online seedling site that combines local plants you find at a nursery with the convenience of online stores http://www.cultivarexchange.com. They’re trying to do something a little different by crowdsourcing from seed savers and small farms doing open pollinated local adatation of heirlooms.