Over the past few years I’ve been thinking about an idea to help me track down seeds from my favorite vendors. Near the beginning of each year we get a number of seed catalogs. I love looking through them in the cold winter months, getting a sense of all that is available, new varieties and picking new things to try.
We typically figure out exactly what we still have in inventory and then decide what we need to order. Most of the seed vendors now have excellent web sites to order online. I wanted a way to quickly figure out who has what variety and potentially compare prices. Often we have specific varieties in mind and not all vendors carry that type. We buy a lot of seeds, so we think about price as well. We typically put more stock in the success we’ve had with a particular vendor or variety, as well as how adapted the seeds are to our area.
Although you can find single varieties somewhat easily through Google or Bing now, it’s still a laborious process if you want to compare varieties or do a lot of research quickly. I’m also only really interested in vendors who support the ideals I believe in: no GMOs and a focus on any mixture of organic, heirloom, open-pollinated and generally sustainable options. The only way I really know to accomplish this is to pick vendors I believe in and then crawl their sites to determine what is available. So I wrote a specialized web crawler that does just that. The results are now available at Pick A Packet.
I have some ideas for additional features, but for now it is a limited feature set. I want to make sure the seed companies appreciate the idea of this as a resource before putting too much additional effort into it. I also want to see if anybody else finds this helpful or just me. If so, some ideas for future features include social elements (I’m growing this in this area), ratings of success with particular varieties, ability to share photos of specific varieties (both plants and final crop) and helpful resources on the ideas the site is about (GMO issues, open-pollination, heirloom plants, seed saving, etc.). I would appreciate any feedback or idea you have on any of these ideas or the main concept of the site.
Please share this with any gardening friends you may have. I hope you’ll find it useful.