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How Seeds are Produced: Behind the Scenes of How Our Seeds are Selected, Grown, Tested and Multiplied with Territorial Seed Company, Ep 175



How are seeds produced, manufactured, and make it to our gardens? Every gardener knows the joy of going through seed catalogs and visiting garden centers to select the perfect mix of herbs, vegetables, and flowers to grow in their own garden. But what we might not often consider is the journey of those seeds—from the years-long process of selection, cultivation, and production to the moment when we lovingly plant those tiny specs of potential into the ground. In this episode, Andrew Billing and Kat Barlow from Territorial Seed Company take you on the journey of the seeds from the minds of passionate seed growers to the hands of gardeners!

In this episode, we learn:

  • [03:33] Are you taking seed packets for granted? (Territorial Seed Company’s purpose!)
  • [06:08] Who is Andrew Billing? 
  • [06:28] Who is Kat Barlow? 
  • [07:48] Understanding Territorial Seed beyond the advertisements
  • [08:48] What makes the climate at Territorial Seed and the plants grown and tested there so hardy? 
  • [10:35] What is gardener's itch?
  • [12:28] Territorial Seed introduces new dahlia varieties
  • [13:52] Territorial Seed's different approaches to sourcing seeds
  • [15:42] How does farm sourcing work?
  • [16:27] How does Territorial Seed preserve seed genetics using seed vaults?
  • [19:00] How does Territorial Seed decide what seeds to grow in-house? 
  • [21:10] How does trend forecasting play a role in the sourcing and selection of seeds?
  • [23:57] What is shishito pepper and how did it become popular? 
  • [25:21] Where can you find quality-built grow lights?
  • [26:52] How wind chimes can enhance your mindfulness practice
  • [29:28] What are some tried and true favorite seed varieties at Territorial Seed? 
  • [32:44] The seed trialing process at Territorial Seed
  • [37:39] What is the timeline for developing marketing materials before sourcing seeds at Territorial Seeds? 
  • [39:17] How many years does it take to trial a seed and bring it to market? 
  • [39:55] What criteria determine if a seed is selectable or not? 
  • [40:49] What are the reasons seeds are cut back or not offered?
  • [42:33] Determining when seeds are ready for market
  • [43:57] Differences in trialing edibles vs flowers
  • [46:10] Where can you find quality weighted blankets for overall better sleep? 
  • [48:38] What is the process of breeding better seeds?
  • [52:15] How does Territorial Seed collaborate with other seed companies and outside farmers? [53:40] From mass production to nationwide sales: the seed distribution process
  • [56:24] How does Territorial Seed pack and produce seeds?
  • [1:04:20] Kat and Andrew's favorite seeds to grow
  • [1:08:22] What new seed varieties do Territorial Seed look forward to?
  • [1:13:32] Territorial Seed's upcoming products that can grow seeds in small containers
  • [1:15:15] Essential tips for beginner gardeners in small space gardening


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Who are Andrew Billing and Kat Barlow?

Andrew Billing and Kat Barlow are two crucial hands at Territorial Seed Company. Andrew Billing is the product line manager and oversees the in-house trials for all of the vegetables and herbs in their catalog. Kat Barlow, a purchasing coordinator, handles the purchase of various green goods, like garlic, potatoes, and live plants, and contributes to product selection, especially with flowers. Additionally, Kat is responsible for writing the copy for the products in their catalog and website.


Territorial Seed Co: More Than Ad Campaigns

Territorial Seed Company is a sponsor you've been hearing for a long time, plant friends. Based in Cottage Grove, Oregon, Territorial Seed has been providing passionate gardeners with high-quality vegetable, herb, and flower varieties for over 40 years.

They are not just another boring seed company—it's a seed company with a mission! Their goal is to help you feed yourself year-round, with their catalogs designed to educate you on the types of crops you can grow in different seasons.

But it doesn't stop there – with a research farm located in the Cascade Foothills, Territorial Seed is able to test the hardiness of different varieties in a mild climate with cool summers and low overnight temperatures. This makes it the perfect place to find the best crops for your garden!


How Territorial Seed Company Sources Quality Seeds

At Territorial Seed Company, they are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest in the world of seeds. They work with a diverse group of seed breeders and producers, attend trade shows and conferences, and partner with well-known and respected organizations, universities, and local seed farmers.

They also grow their own seeds on their farm, plant friends! This farm is responsible for producing a quarter of the seeds they sell, including a variety of heirloom vegetables that they have nurtured for many years.

If you're looking for a seed company that is passionate about what they do and dedicated to providing the best quality seeds, then this humble seed company is a perfect choice. With a focus on collaboration and a love for what they do, they are sure to bring quality seeds that make the garden of your dreams possible.


How Territorial Seed Company Chooses Seeds

Seed companies often face the challenge of deciding which crops to grow in-house and which to source externally. Territorial Seed Company takes a unique approach by producing much of what is sold in-house, based on the climate where the farm is located.

Cool and dry climates, for example, lend themselves well to lettuce production, while other crops may be more challenging and require outside sourcing.

Another method that they do is trend forecasting, which is an exciting way to decide which seeds to source and produce!

Territorial Seed Company is always on the lookout for the latest trends in the wedding and floral industries, influencers, chefs, farmer's markets, and grocery stores. They also stay up-to-date with the latest research from universities to ensure they know what's in demand.

PLUS! They have the unique ability to recognize when a product may not be popular at first but could become hit years down the line.


Territorial Seed Company's Favorite Seed Varieties

The Territorial Seed Company has been continually providing customers with favorites like the Cranberry Bean, Black Coco, Fava Beans, and Heirloom Tomatoes for decades. Andrew shares that the ratio of these classics to newly added varieties can vary from 25%, depending on the crop category.

The Cranberry Bean is a large, speckled bean that is bush-type and extremely early and high-yielding. It is considered to be an all-purpose bean due to its versatility. It is named after the cranberry due to its red color and size resembling a cranberry.

Customers are offered a vast selection of unique products such as cherry tomatoes and even uncommon varieties. This selection is not offered in garden centers, making Territorial Seed the go-to place for those hoping to explore new and unique varieties. They take pride in their selection and strive to offer the best options in each category. They are happy to provide customers with a wide variety of options and constant feedback on their offerings.


Seed Trialing: The Nitty-Gritty on How it Works

Seed sourcing is a crucial part of any farming or gardening operation, and trial testing is a key part of the process! However, many people don't know just how extensive the trialing process can be, especially for seed companies like Territorial Seed Company.

Seed trialing is the process of testing seed samples before they are sold to customers. This is done to determine the viability of the seed, as well as to assess its characteristics, such as disease resistance, drought tolerance, and other important factors.

The end goal of seed trialing is to ensure that the seed you purchase will grow into the desired plant, as well as to ensure that the plant will be healthy and perform well in your particular growing conditions.


The Process of Bringing a Seed to Mass Production

Andrew and Kat explain the rigorous yet worthwhile process of bringing seeds to the market. Here are the things that go behind the scenes:

  • Starting with a small seed population: If you have just a handful of seeds, it could take multiple years of increasing the population, harvesting the seed, and refining the crop through roguing to get to a stage where you have enough seed to sell.
  • Roguing: The process of removing any plants that don't exhibit the best qualities from the population to keep their genes from passing on into the next crop of seed. This process could take multiple years or generations, depending on the crop.
  • Quality Control Process: This includes germination testing, disease testing, and a grow-out process. Germination testing ensures the seeds meet Territorial Seed Company's standards, which are higher than federal and state standards. Disease testing ensures the seed is clear of any seed-borne diseases. The grow-out process is an additional quality control step where the seed is grown out in an entire season to make sure it is good to go.
  • Packing and Distribution: The bulk seed is broken down into smaller package sizes by a seed-filling department. Packages come in different sizes, ranging from small sampler sizes for home gardeners to larger sizes for market growers. The seed is filled into the packages in different ways, including hand-filling, automatic seed pack machines, and seed counting machines.
  • Note: pelleted seeds are processed outside and each pellet contains several seeds.

Garden planning starts with seed selection and it's a crucial part of the gardening process. Those tiny seed envelopes hold the potential for a future garden of herbs, vegetables, and flowers. While many gardeners are familiar with their own journey from planting to harvesting, many are unaware of the years-long process of producing the seeds.

Today, we gained insight into the complex process of seed selection, cultivation, and production that allows us to bring our beautiful gardens to life. With a deeper appreciation for the journey of the seeds, we can nurture our gardens with even more love and care.


Mentioned in our conversation:


Thank you to our episode sponsors:

Territorial Seed Company

It's time to start planning for growing season 2023! If you’re looking for plants for your garden, skip the lines at the garden center and let Territorial Seed Company deliver top-of-the-line, healthy and hardy vegetable plants right to your door! They have a great line of pre-grown plants, an expansive seed catalog, and over 40 years of experience delivering the best seeds and plants for everyone's garden.

Get 10% off by visiting – discount applied at checkout.

Soltech Solutions

Soltech Solutions makes the grow lights you’ve heard me talk about for years: whether you are looking for a pendant light, track lighting, or a simple bulb to screw into any standard light fixture, Soltech has got you covered. They offer quality products with great customer service, free shipping, and a 5-year warranty. Keep the sun shining and the plants green inside your home with Soltech Solutions.

Check them out at and get 15% off with code bloom15.

Wind River Chimes

Bring more peace, serenity, and magic into your home with chimes. Wind River is a Virginia-based company creating premium handcrafted and hand-tuned wind chimes for over 35 years. If you are looking for a new way to grow joy in your life and find a moment of peace, a Wind River chime is the perfect addition for your home or garden.

Visit and use code GROWINGJOY to receive free engraving on all Corinthian Bells wind chimes.


Weighted blankets have been proven to improve sleep, ease anxiety, and relieve stress through the therapeutic power of deep touch pressure (DTP), and Bearaby has completely changed the game. Bearaby takes a design-focused approach to bringing medically beneficial products into people’s lives by creating products in different sizes and variety that you'll be proud to display throughout your home. Treat yourself to a weighted blanket because everyone deserves good sleep!

Use code GROWINGJOY for free, faster shipping at


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