Fall Seed Order

The first of my fall seed orders arrived today. This was part of the stuff I wanted to get in the ground for transplanting a month or so from now (see the mid-summer planting post). These two orders were from Johnny's and Cook's and I am happy to say that both arrived within three days of my online order, which I consider a proper standard.

Fall_seed_order_1I got mostly lettuces and brassicas from Johnnys, and a few things from Cook's that are still aren't available elsewhere (I will confess to a prejudice against ordering from Cook's now that it is part of Burpee, but there are still some things we used to list that still havenot been picked up by other companies).

Johnnys packets were, as usual, informative as need be, given the resource of the catalog itself and the website. I was amazed to find that the Cooks packets were the same ones designed pre-2003 (when Burpee bought the company) with the same instructions on them that I wrote some 5-10 years before that! (I won't be too self-critical here, as you may understand, but one thinks they might have updated things a little!) Note in the photo that Johnnys also included a tip sheet on the radicchio seed I ordered, which is helpful given the specifics on its culture that are best followed if one is to succeed.

Packaging and presentation on both orders was good as well. Johnny's shipped in a box, which weighed 3oz of the total 8 oz package weight, which seemed, with the paper dunnage to fill it up, a little wasteful. Cook's shipped in a flat "utility" envelope (as Burpee usually does). Both came first class USPS, and both charged very significant shipping and handling charges:

Burpee / Cooks — $5.95 for a $11.40 order that cost about $1.22 to ship (and maybe a nickel for the envelope).

Johnnys — $6.95 for a $29.60 order that cost about $2.41 to ship (and probably twenty cents for the box).

That means the shipping added 52% to the Cooks order and about 24% to the Johnnys order. And the "profit" on shipping for both was probably equal to the "profit" on the seeds in the order.

Now, don't get me wrong: I am a mail order buyer (part of the reason I became a mail order merchant twenty-some years ago) because there are a lot of things I want in my garden that I just can't get locally,  and  I know intimately the costs associated with processing an order (that is where most of the charge goes) but those costs have shrunk radically in the past decade as ordering has progressed online, and yet the handling charges have gone up — even more than the shipping costs  have gone up. I think shipping and handling charges — always the bane of mail order gardeners — have a lot more to give.

That, and the continuing un-availability of some really great garden plants, is almost enough to get me back in the seed trade again…I started Cooks in 1983 because I couldn't get what I wanted at a price I was willing to pay with service that made me happy and parts of that are still not being covered. Johnny's is one of the best out there, but even they don't seem to be able to cover all the bases.

Whatever. I am glad to have the seeds, and I'm ready to get them in the ground as soon as that baking sun drops a little farther in the West. More later…

ShepherdFall Seed Order