Thursday, January 26, 2017

It's All in the Numbers

Over Christmas I noticed a couple of packaging changes:

  • A can of Campbell's soup is now smaller but the price is the same as the older size (which is no longer available.)
  • The individual kisses in Hershey's Kisses are smaller but the price is the same as the original size.

Companies can package as they choose.  As consumers, we need to understand these changes mean we are getting less for our money even if it looks the same.  Cereals, cake mixes and a whole host of other grocery items have been doing this for years.  Sadly, few consumers realize the difference.

One thing to look at this Spring is how many seeds you're getting in a packet.  That 99 cent packet of radish seeds looks like a good deal.  If that packet has twelve seeds, it's not a good deal.  

The seed company must list the weight of the contents but who of us knows how much 5 or 50 seeds weigh?  My advice is gently feel the packet.  Take a cheap packet and a more well-known company's packet and see if one is significantly different.  Is the cheaper a half - third or forth smaller.  Do the math!

An example:
The smaller packet is $0.99 and the larger packet is $1.96.
The smaller packet has one forth the seeds of the larger.
Multiply the cost of the smaller packet times 4.
4 x .99 = $3.96
In this example, the little packet is not a good deal.

What if you don't need lots of seeds?  Share with other gardeners.  Or, buy from nurseries that have bulk supplies and get just the amount you want.  (Some local and on-line nurseries will tell you exactly how many seeds you are getting - I appreciate that service.)

I've also found seeds from more well-known companies have a higher germination rate.  

Another little hint is to look at the stamped date on the seed packets.  If they are older than this summer, they will not germinate very well if at all.

Check to make sure you're not getting debris in with the seeds.  Since they are usually sold by weight, having sticks and junk in the package means you're paying for more than seeds.

I think one of the reasons new gardeners get discouraged is they buy cheap or old seeds.  Do yourself a favor, start with good healthy seeds.  Not the total answer to perfect plants but certainly a good beginning.  

(As a side note:  I've noticed the sunflower seeds we're getting to feed the birds are now full of junk.  The company is saving on production costs by not cleaning and getting more for less by selling junk as part of the weight.)   

Pictures are of old D. M. Ferry & Co's seed catalogs - truly works of art!

No comments:

Post a Comment