Frequently Asked Questions
Here you'll find a list of answers to the questions we get asked the most. It's broken down into categories to make it slightly easier to find what you're looking for.
If you have a question you can't find an answer to here please send us an email at email@example.com or give us call at 207-926-3400.
GARDENING & SEED RELATED QUESTIONS
Q: "COLD TREATING SEEDS"... WHAT DOES THIS MEAN AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT ME?
A: Cold treating seeds, sometimes called "Cold stratification", is a process that some seeds need to undergo before they are planted. It is essentially tricking the seeds into thinking they are enduring a fake winter, which causes the seed to activate and be able to be planted. Cold treatment involves placing the seeds in an air-tight container in the freezer for two to four weeks, simulating a winter's exposure. When you remove them from the freezer, leave them in a container without opening it for several hours; this allows the seeds to slowly get back to room temperature before planting without condensation building up in the container. Most packets of seeds that require this process will indicate it on their packaging. Click here for a list of perennials that require cold treatment.
Q: PELLETED SEED AND COATED SEED... WHAT DO THEY MEAN AND WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO?
A: Pelleted seed is seed that has been wrapped in a thick coating that makes the seed easier to handle and plant. It enlarges small seed to a manageable size, and once planted, the pellet outside will dissolve with moisture. It is NOT a fungicide and does not affect the seed's germination or growth in any way. Coated seed is seed that is simply coated for the purpose of making the seed more visible and easier to handle. Coating seed does not change the size or form of the seed. Sometimes, the coating is made up of a natural or organic fungicide that prevents the seed from rotting in wet soil.
Q: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DETERMINATE AND INDETERMINATE SEEDS?
A: This question relates mostly to tomato seeds. Determinate means that once the plant grows, flowers and then produces fruit, its life cycle is done. Once the fruit is harvested, it will not produce any more. Determinate plants generally only reach a size of about 36”. Indeterminate means that once the plant grows, flowers and then produces fruit, it will continue to grow and produce fruit until it is killed by frost.
Q: HOW SHOULD LEFTOVER SEEDS BE STORED?
A: Storage conditions are very important to seed viability. Exposure to moisture causes seed viability to decline, so seeds should be stored in a dry place in an airtight, watertight container. Zippered freezer bags, glass jars, plastic containers and metal boxes are all options, as long as they have a tight seal. In humid climates, a desiccant such as a packet of silica gel or dry milk powder can be placed in the container to absorb moisture. Seed also should kept cool, and can even be stored in the refrigerator or the freezer.
Q: WHAT DOES "DIRECT SEEDED" MEAN?
A: Direct seeded means that the seeds can be planted directly into the ground, as opposed to needing to be started indoors for a short period of time. Direct seeding vs. seed starting is very climate specific, as certain seeds can handle a cooler soil temperature while other seeds require warm soil at all times. Please see the Seed Starting article on our blog for more detailed information.
Q: DO TOMATOES NEED TO BE PRUNED?
A: No. Tomato plants will grow and produce fruit even if you don't get around to pruning them. However, your plant will yield more fruit and have fewer disease issues if you prune them.
Q: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HYBRID AND OPEN POLLINATED SEED?
A: Open pollinated seed is seed that is genetically identical to the parent plant from which the seed came. Open pollinated seed is also known as Heirloom seed, which are seed varieties that have been passed down for generations through families or communities. Hybrid seed is seed that has two different parents of the same species that have been selected for their certain traits in a controlled environment. The seed produced will not be genetically identical to the parent plants. Please note that hybrids are NOT genetically modified. See below for more information on Hybrid vs. GMO seeds.
Q: WHAT CAN I GROW IN MY YARD IF IT IS VERY SHADY?
A: Virtually all vegetables require full sun; shade tends to reduce plant growth and the amount of fruit or vegetable that it will yield, if it grows at all. As an alternative, you may want to pick up container gardening, placing your containers wherever sun filters through the trees for the longest amount of time each day.
Q: WHAT IS THE SHELF LIFE OF SEEDS AND CAN I SAVE THEM TO USE AGAIN THE NEXT YEAR?
A: Some seeds are only viable in the year of purchase, and others can be kept for many years. If seeds have not been pretreated or pelletized (see above for explanation of pelleted seed vs. coated seed) and if they have been stored properly, here is the shelf life you can expect: 1 year: onions, parsnips, parsley, spinach 2 years: corn, peas, beans, chives, okra, dandelion 3 years: carrots, leeks, asparagus, turnips, rutabagas 4 years: peppers, chard, pumpkins, squash, watermelons, basil, artichokes 5 years: beets, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, celery, lettuce, endive, chicory. Check out our Blog on this.
OUR STANCE ON GMO's
Q: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GMO AND HYBRID SEEDS?
A: Hybrid seeds select traits from different parent plants for a beneficial outcome. GMO seeds are genetically manipulated in their genes to make the seed more beneficial.
Q: DOES PINETREE SELL GMO SEEDS?
A: The short answer is no, we do not. Many of you have contacted us asking about Pinetree’s position on genetically modified seeds and the recent acquisition of small companies by larger corporations. After 40 years, Pinetree remains a small family owned business. We have never, and will never, sell any genetically modified seeds and strive to operate with integrity and transparency in all dealings while supporting our customers in their efforts to make informed decisions about their food and their environment. As our founder, Richard Meiners, has said: “We sell no seed that has been developed using genetic manipulation. We do not view technologies as being good or bad things in themselves, but people can certainly employ them in pernicious ways. We also think that developing countries are best served, focusing on the agricultures that they have the material and manpower for. Not some Western notion that ignores indigenous materials and tastes.” Additionally, Pinetree has signed the Safe Seed Pledge as an effort to make clear our stance on this issue and our support for those fighting against the political landscape that allows more and more GMO presence. The Safe Seed Pledge: "Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy, sell or trade genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities." In the interest of full disclosure, Pinetree has purchased seeds from Seminis in the long distant past. We have not purchased their seeds for many years, nor do we intend to in the future. Our relationship with Seminis predates the Monsanto acquisition by many years and we had always felt they were a responsible company but have chosen not to support Monsanto in any capacity. Pinetree will continue to meet the needs of the home gardener and provide our customers with more and more organic and heirloom choices in the coming years. We are committed to the ideals of sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship and appreciate your support. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.
ORDERING & SHIPPING INFORMATION
Q: WHEN WILL MY SEEDS/PRODUCTS ARRIVE?
A: At this time, orders are taking approximately 2-3 days to ship. Stock availability may affect this, so please call if you have specific concerns.
Q: HOW DO I REQUEST A CATALOG?
A: Click here to request a catalog via our website. Simply fill out the form and confirm the subscription via the email that will arrive in your inbox shortly after submitting.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR REFUND POLICY?
A: We guarantee everything we sell for a period of 90 days from shipment. We will give a credit for the amount under $5.00 or a refund check over $5.00. All seeds can be happily replaced but plant material can only be refunded.
Q: WHAT PAYMENT METHODS DO YOU ACCEPT?
A: Check, money order, Paypal, all major credit cards.
Q: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "BACKORDERED" AND "SOLD OUT"?
A: "Backordered" means that the item you have ordered is not available at the time that the rest of your order ships. Once the item becomes available, it will be shipped to you separately. "Sold out" means that the item is completely out of stock and will not be available for the rest of the growing season. You will receive a refund or a credit for any sold out items.
Q: WHAT ARE THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR SALES AND DISCOUNTS?
A: Terms and Conditions include the following: Code cannot be combined with other discounts or offers. Limit of one discount code per order and one code use per customer. Discount codes cannot be applied to gift certificates and is not valid for previous purchases. Discount code is valid for stated number of days from time email is sent or until expiration date stated (on eastern time zone) and applies only to orders in the US.
LOOKING FOR YOUR ZONE? CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO BE TAKEN TO THE INTERACTIVE USDA PLANT HARDINESS ZONE MAP.
Q: WHAT DO REFERENCES TO "ZONE" MEAN AND HOW DO I DETERMINE WHICH ZONE I'M IN?
A: Your "zone" is a reference to geographic regions of plant hardiness. This is based the average annual minimum temperatures in your area. There are 11 hardiness zone in north america; zone 1 being the coldest with minimum temperatures reaching -50°f, and zone 11 being the warmest with minimum temperatures never going below 40°f. Plant hardiness is rated by the lowest temperature at which the plant can survive. The USDA map of hardiness zones allows you to click on your area to find your zone and a list of the lowest temperatures that can be expected.