A Change to Our Seed Guarantee

The major portion of our business is selling clonal crops, in the form of roots and tubers.  Because roots and tubers are perishable and vulnerable to all kinds of problems in packing and shipping, we guarantee them.  You should expect that roots and tubers that you receive will substantially sprout and grow.  After that, it is up to you.

Until now, we have extended the same guarantee to seeds.  This will continue for some types of seeds but not others.  For crops that are propagated primarily by seeds (for example: sea kale, root chervil, and skirret), we will continue to guarantee germination equal to what is stated on the package.  The rest of the seed that we offer is breeding seed (for example: true potato seeds, oca seeds, and yacon seeds) and we will be updating the product names to clearly designate when this is the case.  Breeding seeds will no longer be guaranteed.  Even if you get no germination at all, the item will not be refundable.

This change has come of necessity.  As the popularity of these items has grown, the level of experience of the people purchasing them has decreased and the number of requests for refund has increased.  Inexperience is not always the reason for failure of course.  These seeds are fundamentally experimental.  They don’t always succeed for me.  Long, intermittent germination combined with sensitivity to conditions is difficult to manage.  We will still test germination to ensure that the lot is viable, so that we don’t send out a batch of dead seed, but germination rates can still be very low, particularly for crops like oca, yacon, and ulluco.

I considered several alternatives.  One was to raise the price to accommodate more refunds.  Unfortunately, this seems likely to result in a race where higher prices drive increased refund requests, in turn driving even higher prices.  These seeds are already fairly expensive due to the effort involved in collecting them.  The other alternative was to simply stop selling breeding seeds and focus on selling clones.  There is some appeal in this, but it would make it impossible for people in almost any climate region other than mine to take part in the breeding of some of these crops and I think that would be a shame.

So, the seeds will remain, but the guarantee will not.  Breeding seeds sold up to today, March 24th, 2019, will still be guaranteed.  After today, you’re on your own.  I will still welcome germination reports though.  Information will help us to make decisions about what we should (or should not) continue to offer.

The proper way to think of breeding seeds is as a bit of a gamble.  You don’t know that you will get anything out of them.  If you do get anything, you don’t know if it will be any good.  But, when you do get something, it will be new and unique, never seen before by anyone but you!  We’re in the same boat.  I put a large amount of effort into producing these seeds and typically use the same lines that I sell.    I am often disappointed.  That is the nature of plant breeding – there is a lot of waste, of both effort and materials, and persistence is the only way through.


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