A little bit about The Real Seed Catalogue
We've been producing seed for over 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 and Soil-Association-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.
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, Ian, Josie, Melissa & Howard
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
tasty and interesting non-hybrid vegetables
for the home gardener, allotment grower, or smallholder.
Who are we?
Real Seeds is a family business that has grown to supply 400,000 packets a year all over the UK. The company was started by Kate & Ben many years ago and has grown with the addition of more people over time. We started in Cambridge in the 1990s, later moved to Spain for seven years, and since 2004 have 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 had grown vegetables from childhood, and Ben studied as a plant scientist, which comes in handy for the more complicated breeding projects. Both of us try to live low-impact lifestyles - we grow most of our own food (all those trial vegetables!) and heat our houses mostly by wood, and run them from green electricity.
It takes a fair number of us to 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 of us take turns to make up and send out orders. Melissa runs our antique seed packing machines, and designed the artwork for the envelopes. Cathy manages the packing and does all the germination testing. Josie, 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!
No matter what you choose, you should expect excellent germination, fantastic growth, and great flavour.
We work hard to choose good varieties and grow good seed - we take pride in supplying the best available. We test all our seed both before and after packing to international ISTA Seed Testing rules. And we're a registered DEFRA seed company.
We want you to feel that you can really rely on our seed- so here is our unique guarantee:
If you are in any way not completely happy with your seeds, plants, or even the flavour of the resulting crop, we will cheerfully replace your seed, refund your money, or send a credit note - whichever you prefer.
We don't think you'll need to use this guarantee, but if you do have a problem, just get in touch - we need to know about it so we can fix whatever went wrong, and do it better next time.