The real seed company
Our 2021 vegetable seed CATALOGUE
Update: Fri 5th Feb 2021
We are opening intermittently as demand for seeds is exceptionally high.
We really apologise for the frustration, but we are a small company of of 7 people.
We are doing our best in the face of overwhelming demand, but we
can’t risk taking more than a weeks orders at a time in case some of us are sick or have to isolate.
We open this morning Friday 5th Feb for several hours;
but don’t panic if you miss this slot as we will be open again next week – there’s plenty of time to sow things and we will keep opening regularly.
We’re really sorry it feels like a bit of a lottery, but if we open at fixed times, so many people try to
order at once that our shopping cart & stock control fall over, and no-one will get the seeds they want.
We’ll update the day or so before we open, so please don’t email or phone ,
we don’t have an exact date & it just takes time away from packing seeds & orders.
Realistically if you do have another source of seeds right now, you might want to do that.
NB: Due to Brexit we are no longer able to ship to Northern Ireland, see this explanation.
Yacon and Oca are both now available, limited quantities this year due to too much weather!
Rated ‘Best Buy’
by Ethical Consumer Magazine
Welcome! Our heirloom and heritage vegetable seeds are specially chosen for home gardeners.
Over the past 21 years we’ve collected the very best varieties for you to grow.
You’ll find no F1 hybrids or genetically modified seed here – just varieties that do really well and taste great when grown on a garden scale – a catalogue of real seeds for real gardeners wanting to grow proper vegetables.
Because all are open-pollinated (non-hybrid), if you wish you can even save your own vegetable seed
for future years, using the instructions we supply. There’s no need to buy new seed every year.
New to gardening? See the calendars on each page – dark green squares show the main sowing times for each crop. Lighter green are extensions/options.
For more detailed sowing plans throughout the year, we have a month-by-month guide.
See the latest news from the field on our Facebook or Instagram pages.
How We Are Different
We don’t just sell seed; we’re gardeners and also grow these veg for our own use at home,
so we really know how they grow & how they taste.
We only offer what we think is really good,
rather than listing lots of different varieties just for the sake of it.
Every vegetable here has been chosen – from hundreds of trials – for a particular reason, which we try to explain in the description.
We do our own website – so it has been written by gardeners, for gardeners.
It should be easy to see what each vegetable does, how it grows, and when to sow it.
We really do hope you enjoy these vegetables as much as we have enjoyed tracking them down and trying them out.
Each and every one has been chosen for its merit in the kitchen as well as the garden.
Our aim is to offer you the very best seed of the best vegetable varieties we can find!
– best wishes for a great season from Ben, Kate, Catherine, Tam & Ian
To reduce plastic waste, we supply much of our seed in paper envelopes.
To do this have we purchased one of the last existing Ballard Brown-bag seed packing machines.
Weighing 1000lb in cast iron and brass, and built a hundred and twenty years ago, this amazing device has been in constant use ever since.
It picks up and opens the packet, throws a measured scoop of seed in,
glues the flap, folds it over and passes it to the output tray.
Originally steam powered, ours is now run by an electric motor.
We designed beautiful new seed packets to go with it, inspired by the Art Nouveau posters of Mucha,
& have had the correct 1880s-pattern envelopes manufactured for us by a company in Wales.
Company No 5924934
VAT No 841181938
DEFRA registered Seed Merchant No 7289
Our Unique Structure: Because we have no shareholders. the main aim of the company is not to make huge profits, but instead to supply great seeds to home gardeners at reasonable prices, and to educate people about home seed-saving. As part of our ethical policy, all staff are paid the same hourly wage, including the directors.
Our Unique Guarantee: We have spent years trying to find the best varieties for you to grow. We think these are the best seeds you can sow, and we really hope that you enjoy growing your vegetables from them. We will immediately refund or replace if you are in any way less than delighted with them, even including the flavour of the resulting crop!
Gardeners Should Save their Own Seed: Because none of these seeds are hybrids,you can save your own seed for future use: there’s no need to buy new each year. Saving your own is easy. You will get great seed, and great vegetables adapted to your local conditions. Do have a go – read the seedsaving instructions we provide with every order, and also on this site.
We have sent out over 104,000 sets of free home seed-saving instructions!
Our Seed Club: Due to really daft seed laws, many of our fantastic vegetable seeds can only be supplied to members of our Seed Club, because they are not on the EU-approved list of permitted vegetable varieties! But membership costs just one penny per annum .
When we process your order, you will be charged a penny for a year’s Seed Club Membership. For more details see our terms and conditions.
A fine crop of Sutherland Kale in flower.
A catalogue of the very best vegetable seed for home gardeners, with interesting heirloom and heritage varieties. Guaranteed better flavour or your money back.
The Real Seed Catalogue
– vegetable seeds that germinate quickly and grow well.
Vegetable Seed You Can Trust
We’ve been producing seed for about twenty years now, and we pride ourselves on our reputation for excellent seed quality. We only send out really good seed; we are gardeners too and we know the frustration that poor seed could cause. We’re a DEFRA-registered seed merchant: all our seed is grown, dried and stored professionally, and gets fantastic feedback from people.
Our Seed Collection
We’re a bit different from other places you might get seed from, because we also grow all these veg for our own family use, so if it’s in our catalogue, we know how it grows, and how it tastes. We don’t like things that are fiddly or difficult to grow, so we just don’t offer them.
Over the years we’ve tried thousands of vegetable varieties and collected together what we think are the very best vegetables for the home gardener – both valuable heirlooms and really good modern strains.
You’ll find no hybrids or genetically modified seed here – just varieties that do really well and taste great when grown by hand on a garden scale.
Seed You Can Save Yourself
One of the main aims of the company – written into its deeds – is to educate and encourage home seed saving. All our varieties are real, open-pollinated seed (non-hybrid), so you can save your own seed for the future, using instructions we supply. We have written freely-copyable seed-saving guides, and we sell a more detailed seed-saving book at a subsidised price. There’s really no need to buy new seed every year – you can just save your own.
How our Catalogue is Different
First of all, we only offer what we know is really good, rather than listing lots of different varieties just for the sake of it. But most importantly, everything here has been chosen – from hundreds of trials – for a particular reason , which we try to explain in the description.
You get the benefit of our experience because we print you out detailed instructions and observations with your seeds. For the more unusual plants, you get recipes too. So no need to worry that you won’t know what to do with it once you’ve grown it!
And we make our own website – it’s written by gardeners, for gardeners – while it may not be particularly flashy, we think you’ll find it easy to know what each variety does, how it grows, and when to sow it.
We really hope you enjoy these vegetables as much as we have enjoyed tracking them down and trying them out. Each & every one has been chosen for its merit in the kitchen as well as the garden.
Our aim is to offer you the very best seed of the best varieties we can find!
Ben Gabel & Kate McEvoy, with lots of help from Catherine, Tam, Anja, and Ian
When we got allotments and grew our own vegetables to eat, we slowly came to realise that most modern varieties have been bred for the needs of large-scale chemical farming, where all aspects of the environment are controlled with fertilisers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.
After all, supermarkets demand shiny fruit that are tough to survive shipping and display, and so these are what are being bred. But these commercial varieties give poor results when grown on a home scale without all their chemicals. And whatever has happened to qualities such as flavour and tenderness?
Luckily, we found that there do still exist many old heirloom varieties, representing centuries of careful selection and breeding for small-scale growers.
So we track down and try ones that sound promising, and those that do well we add to our Collection. They come from many places – we trade with other plant collectors and heirloom vegetable projects, government seed banks, and donations from the public.
We also look for interesting plants that are well known in other countries, and could do well in the UK, but have so far remained relatively unknown.
Our aim is simple: to assemble the best collection of really reliable,
tasty and interesting non-hybrid vegetables
for the home gardener, allotment grower, or smallholder.
Who are we?
We’re a family business. The company was started by Kate & Ben many years ago and has grown with the addition of more people over time. We started growing in Cambridge in the 1990s, later moved to Spain for seven years, and are now based on a small farm in Wales, with our office in town nearby. These three very different climates have given us a really good overview of how different vegetable varieties do in different conditions!
Kate has grown vegetables from childhood, and Ben studied as a plant scientist, which comes in handy for the more complicated breeding projects. We try to live a low-impact lifestyle – we grow most of our own food (all those trial vegetables!).
We also have several people who work for us helping grow, harvest and pack the seeds, as well as helping run the office and send out orders.
Cathy, Tam and Ian work in the office making it all function smoothly. All thress make up and send out orders, addittionally Ian and Tam pack seed all year round. Cathy manages this and does all the germination testing. Tam and Ian also work on the fields helping grow the crops and keep the place tidy. Then we also have a network of people growing seed for us on their own farms . It wouldn’t function without all their hard work!
We are proud of our reputation for excellent seed quality. We only send out really good seed; we are gardeners too and we know the frustration that poor seed could cause.