Frequently Asked Questions

What does open pollinated mean?

Open pollinated means simply that the plants are left to become pollinated on their own, naturally, either through cross pollination (via wind, insects or water) or self pollination (the transfer of pollen from the male to the female of the same flower, or to those of another flower on the same plant)

What is a hybrid?

Hybrid seed is seed produced by artificially cross-pollinating plants. Hybrids are bred to improve the characteristics of the resulting plants, such as greater yield, better uniformity, improved disease resistance, etc. Today, hybrid seed is one of the main contributing factors to the dramatic rise in agricultural output during the last half of the 20th century. Hybrid seed cannot be saved, as the seed from the first generation of hybrid plants does not reliably produce true copies, therefore, new seed must be purchased for each planting. A hybrid is defined as the product of a cross between two different varieties or parents of the same plant species. The first generation that results from the cross is known as an F1 hybrid. The seed this F1 hybrid may produce is known as an F2 hybrid. Why are hybrids so expensive? Hybrid seed costs a bit more because of the extra work that is involved in their production. In return, you can usually expect better quality, higher yield, vigor and uniformity and in many cases better disease resistance. Hybrid flowers generally have improved color and larger blooms.

Why don’t you have more o/p varieties?

The superior vigor of hybrids, especially in extreme climates, is an important quality for our customers in the northeast.

Why is some of your seed treated?

Seeds are treated to protect them from seed or soil borne diseases , thereby improving their performance for you. These treatments range from hot water, to treatments like trisodium phosphate (TSP sold as a cleaner) and chlorine (the same as people put in pools), to fungicides, such as thiram. How can I tell which varieties are treated in the catalog? Generally most flower seed is not treated. Many of the vegetable seed is treated for better performance. If you wish untreated seed, look for the letters UT after the variety description. Please keep in mind that you need to make sure any untreated seed that is direct sown into the garden needs to be planted when the soil is warm, as they tend to rot in cold, wet soil.

Is your seed organic?

Stokes only carries a few organic seeds; Nufar Basil, Dill Bouquet & Waltham Butternut Squash. It is not an area we specialize in.

Do you sell heirloom seed?

We do have a number of heirloom tomato varieties, like Brandywine, but we do not specialize in historical seeds.

Why do we not say GMO Free on our website or catalog?

The only GMO vegetable seeds are a handful of sweet corn varieties and a couple of squash varieties, none of which we list in the catalog or website. We felt that listing "GMO Free Catalog/website" on horticultural seed when virtually no horticultural seed is GMO only reinforced the misinformation in the market place that the majority of vegetable seed varieties are GMO.

What is the difference between an annual, biennial and a perennial?

Annual - A plant that lives for only a year. Annuals are normally propagated from seed. There are some annuals that will re-seed, depending on your region.

Biennial - A plant which dies in its second year after germination. It may flower in both the first and second years, or in the second year only.

Perennial - A plant that lives for three or more years.

The number of days beside the varieties - are they from the sowing date or the transplant date?

Check the catalog cultural information of the cultivar you are interested in. Some days to maturity are based on raising the plants from seed, like beans, while others are based on the time of setting the transplants out, like cabbage. The number of days to maturity depends upon many factors: region, climate, planting dates, soil, cultivation, and stress. Because of this, use the days to maturity as a guide only.

What is the Scoville rating?

A unit of pungency (heat) is called a Scoville. This rating of pepper heat can be relatively mild (300-600) or blistering (200,000-350,000). The number of Scoville heat units indicates the amount of capsaicin present.

What is dead-heading?

The removal of spent flowers so that the plant continues to bloom, rather than set seed. Many plants are stimulated to blossom longer when their old flowers and forming seed- pods are removed. You can deadhead by pinching off the blossoms with your fingers, or snip them off with scissors.

How do I know what will do best in my climate?

It is important to grow varieties that are suitable for your region. Check catalog culture and descriptions. You can also check with your state extension service, or department of agriculture. Ask other gardeners in your area as well.

My flowers aren’t the same color as their picture in the catalog?

We try to represent colors as best we can with the photography supplied to us. Please check the catalog descriptions. If you have any questions, please ask.

What is the difference between a pansy and a viola?

The difference is in the size of the flowers and plant. Pansy has larger plant and flowers. Viola has smaller plant and flower.

How should I protect my perennials through the winter?

Applying a protective mulch to keep the ground uniformly frozen is a good idea. Do not apply winter mulch before the ground is frozen, for this may insulate the plants enough to stimulate growth and serve as a home to mice and other rodents. When the ground is thoroughly frozen to a depth of two inches, apply a layer of light, loose materials, such as evergreen boughs, salt hay or dry leaves. Use a material that permits good air circulation to discourage rot. A deep snow is also an excellent insulator. You can pile it on your beds to keep the soil frozen and plants protected.

Why do you discontinue some varieties?

Items are dropped from our catalog for several reasons. If a supplier has discontinued growing a variety, we must also drop it from our selections if we cannot obtain it else- where. As new and improved varieties are developed, it is increasingly difficult for us to locate vendors who carry older varieties. As demand drops and the market decreases, many of our suppliers simply drop varieties. If we have ongoing problems with availability, or if an item is consistently of poor germination or quality, we may end up discontinuing it.

Do you ever bring back a discontinued variety

Occasionally we bring back a discontinued variety if it was dropped due to poor availability and we have been able to locate a reliable supply of it.

Will your seeds grow in my much hotter climate?

Some varieties grow well almost anywhere, but others do well only in specific climates. You’ll find our catalog can be a very useful tool in helping you decide what you can grow in your area. A lot of valuable information can be found in our culture and variety descriptions, e.g. heat tolerance, resistance to bolting in hot weather. If you require assistance with seed selection please contact our customer service department.

What vegetables can be grown in a greenhouse?

Not all crops are suitable for greenhouse growing, but a surprising number will grow and produce if handled correctly. For Cooler Temperatures: Beets, Collards, Radish, Chinese Cabbage, Lettuce, Swiss Chard, Carrot Bunching, Onions, Herbs, Endive, Shallots, Kale, Greens, Parsley, Peas. For Warmer Temperatures: Celery, Summer Squash, Eggplant, Tomato, Peppers, Herbs.

Many tomatoes have initials after their name -VF, VFN, VFT- what do these mean?

  • V=Verticillium
  • F=Fusarium 1
  • FF=Fusarium 1, 2
  • FFF= Fusarium 1, 2, 3
  • N=Nematodes
  • TMV=Tobacco Mosaic
  • TSWV=Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus
  • ToMV=Tomato Mosaic
  • GLS=Grey Leaf Spot

When these letters appear after the variety name, it means that variety has tolerance to the disease the letter denotes.

What do the letters DF/HWT/GS after some descriptions mean?

DF=Deffuzzed -Tomato seed is defuzzed to remove the tiny seed coat hairs, which in turn allows seed treatments such as surface sterilization to have a better contact with the seed. Seed tends not to stick together as much when it is defuzzed.

HWT=Hot Water Treated - this treatment reduces the possibility of seed borne diseases.

GS=Graded Seed - Seed is graded for several criteria. Uniform, similar sized seed is important in mechanical sowing to achieve proper sowing depth, and to avoid multiple seeds per seedling cell. Seed can also be graded for density; the heavier seed normally has a higher germination. Seed is also graded for color, texture, etc.

How do you pinch back a tomato plant?

Before removing suckers or side shoots on a tomato plant, wait until two leaves develop and pinch above them. This practice provides better foliage cover to protect the fruit and stems from sun damage.

What is the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes?

Determinate - Almost always bush types, short plants which do not need to be staked They require more garden space than staking tomatoes and grow well in a cage.

Indeterminate - Tall, large plants which require stakes or trellis. Have more tomatoes on each plant and produce later and longer. We identify each type in our catalog as staking or bush. All greenhouse varieties are indeterminate.

Do you carry Peaches & Cream corn?

Traditionally all bicolor corn was sold as Peaches & Cream, but that’s really a trade name. We list a large number of bicolor varieties in the corn section of our catalog.

What are the differences between sh2, se & SE corn varieties?

Sh2-sweet corn with shrunken 2 gene, named for the appearance of dry kernels . The super Sweets are divided into 2 classes: the regular sh2 types and the new Three way cross types which have better cold soil vigor. Can be grown with other sh2 hybrids, but must be isolated from all other types of corn.(minimum 30 rows) Sweet flavor lasts up to 10 days. Sugary Enhanced are divided into two classes: regular se (heterozygous) modified endosperm SE (homozygous) Both have very tender kernels. Chief advantages over sh2’s: better early seed vigor no isolation really necessary, darker, fresher green husks and cheaper seed cost. The Sugary Enhancer gene means it can stay sweet up to 5 days.

If my seed are left in my mailbox, garage, front door, etc. will freezing temperatures harm the seed?

Most seed would have to be at least 50% moisture content in order to be harmed by low temperatures. Our seeds are very dry, between 10 - 15% moisture content.

What is Pelleted seed?

Pelleting is achieved by applying specially formulated layers of powders and binders to the seed to make it easier to handle. Small seeds are usually pelleted to a standard pellet size. The pellet shape and size is designed to meet the needs of specific kinds of planting equipment. This allows the planting equipment to plant the pellets very precisely, something which cannot easily be done with raw seed.

What is Damping off?

The most frequent cause of seedling death is damping off, a fungus, which can cause not only the destruction of young seedlings, but also the rotting of germinating seeds in the soil. This condition normally occurs when there are any or all of the following conditions: excessive moisture levels, low light levels, insufficient heat before seed germination, excessive soil temperatures after emergence, and overcrowded flats or seedbeds. Control measures include: start seeds in a soil-less mix or a pasteurized soil, use only sterile flats, pots and tools, do not over-water, provide adequate drainage, allow adequate space between seeds so that seedlings are not overly crowded. As well – provide good ventilation – a simple oscillating fan would help, especially if you are starting your seeds in a basement.

When can I order?

You can order all year round. Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery.

How should leftover seed be stored?

Good seed storage results when seeds are kept dry. And the temperature is kept low.

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