I'm not a member of this group yet but was considering it and wondered what any of you could tell me about it. Worth the money? And how exactly does the yearbook part work? They sell seeds, or trade, or.........??
We were a member for one year, both the veg and the flower memberships.
It was well worth it for one year just to have copies of the yearbook.
We decided not to renew because with one season's trading on Gardenweb we ended up growing 80 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and from here on out refining and improving the ones we already have, and making small garden web trades will meet our need for seed.
With the yearbook, people list what they have and a lot of them describe the variety in some detail. Some of the varieties are listed as being available for listed members only. So if someone has a limited amount of something special they only let it go to other members who also have stuff listed in the yearbook - increasing the odds that it goes to a real gardener.
Now last year with GW trades I did get a bunch of mislabled tomatoes and maybe there's less chance of that with the people listing in SSE. But that's not a big deal for us, we don't really care about the names and we've taken to giving our favorites family names anyway.
The flower and herb exchange is weaker. A lot of the serious gardenweb traders have "have" lists that are more impressive than the SSE herb and flower yearbook.
If we had extra money sitting around I would certainly renew both memberships - just to support what they are doing. And I'd list all of my flowers and herbs because that would go a long way to fleshing out their flower and herb catalog and would be a nice public service.
Hope that helps. I do really recommend trying the veg membership at least once someday. You won't regret having that yearbook on hand to page through again and again.
Thanks for the thorough reply lgslgs. That about answered all my questions, except still wondering if the seeds available from members are for TRADE or SALE?
Oops - forgot that part:
There is a cost, and they have different prices depending on whether you are a listed member or not. (People who list seeds get a small discount.)
From the 2009 yearbook, seed prices for listed members were:
Small seeds $ 2
Beans, corn, squash, other large seeds and biennials $ 3
Roots, rhizomes, garlic, scionwood, cuttings, plants and other non-seeds $4
Non-listed members have to add $1.00 to each of those.
For international, it's small seeds $4, beans, corn biennials and big seeds for $5 for listed members. Add $1 if you aren't a listed member.
So all of the prices are for members only, but everything is a buck cheaper if you are giving back to the community by listing some seeds yourself.
Keep in mind with things like plants, bulbs and potatoes - you aren't buying commercial plants. You are buying the kind of a start that should be good enough for a gardener to get something established.
As you can see getting seeds from them is not a bargain - especially when you compare it to a GW round robin or trade. But it does get you access to things you are unlikely to find on GW, like really uncommon stuff, veg seed from varieties that people have collected on trips to remote areas, something that a home gardener has been refining for a decade and other interesting things.
If we didn't have 80 types of tomatoes, and about 20 types each of squash, melons, and peppers to grow this past year I would have probably picked out a dozen interesting things from the yearbook and given them a try. The grower comments in the yearbook make it easier to select for what you might like than the normal "name only" listings on GW.
And I do get the impression that SSE has a higher percentage of people refining and preserving good veg, and with gardenweb you run more risk of mislabeled seeds or non-tasty varieties being saved and shared just because they might have a good name. But that's just me guessing - no facts at all involved in that opinion. :)
Just FYI - the tomato section alone in last year's yearbook was about 200 pages - so I'm guessing there's easily 3000 types listed in there.
We bought our memberships in the veg and flower/herb as a Christmas gift to ourselves, and even though we didn't order anything from either I feel like we got our money's worth of enjoyment. And if you are looking for heirlooms more exotic that the ones you currently have on you "have" list, this would be the best place to go find new and interesting varieties.
Long term, I fully expect to get a membership (probably in both veg and the flower/herb) again. I'd probably use it for a little bit of selective seed buying, a lot of yearbook reading fun, and I'd probably go whole hog in listing my flower seeds in the Flower/herb yearbook just so that I contribute to making that publication more valuable for people.
As for how many people request seeds when you list? Depends on what you are listing. I had about 4 or 5 requests for rhubarb seed that I saved from my very best giant-stalked, green-stemmed plant (plant grown from Victoria seeds from Peaceful Valley seed co.)
The $$ received from the requester covered the mailing and the bubbly envelope so I got to share something good from my garden without and out of pocket expense.
When money is a little less tight, and when my flower garden is more mature and producing a large variety of seed I'll be signing up again. :)
One other thing - since I know you've given me seeds in the past.
We did grow out every type of seed that we had this year. It was pretty wild around here. We ended up with 220+ tomato plants, 80 varieties and lots and lots of all of the other veg plants too.
Thanksgiving dinner for us tonight is homemade pizza made with a roasted tomato sauce from this year's tomatoes. I'm pretty sure some of those tomatoes are from seeds from you. If so, thanks for making us dinner tonight!
LOL. Yes, tomatoes were my main reason for considering joining. The rarer the better, for me, and I especially like them when they come accompanied by a story that goes with them. I have some seeds on the way from a generous member here that are very special. I'm looking for more special seeds like that. Guess I will join!