Sunday, January 10, 2010

Have I Been Scammed, or Just Educated?


Or possibly both.

The day after Christmas I placed our first seed order for the gardening year.

One of the things Michael and I want to do is sell cut flowers at the farmers market. So I did some shopping for pollen free sunflower seeds. They are more expensive than standard sunflowers with pollen and there were a lot of packages of 10 seeds for $2.50.

I did more searching and began finding much better deals. One particular variety appealed to me at the moment and this is what I saw.

Nice. Even free shipping!

And the details.

Well, they got here yesterday.

We opened it excitedly, and this is what we found...

A closeup.

Yes. Those kernels have no hulls. They look rather like snacking kernels. I wrote back to the seller:

Hello, I just received my order for these sunflower seeds and they are not what I was expecting at all. These seeds have no shells and they cannot be planted and grown. I am very unhappy with this purchase. Can you please send me seeds that can be planted and grown? I hoped to have these pollenless cutting flowers for this summer. Thank you.

And this was their very informative response. (Read mild sarcasm)


So I decided to be a little more specific in my questions:

How and why did they come to be without shells? That is a lot of extra work for garden seeds, and I've never seen that done before. Where is the packaging that shows what variety of sunflower they are?

All this time, I am researching on the web... and I got another slightly annoying response, giving me no more information than I already knew.

I am a dealer and buy my seeds in bulk. That is how they arrive to me.

I have an eBay store. My answers will be MUCH longer and more informative than that. I am considering sending this message back, before leaving negative feedback.

I am pleased by your quick replies, but frustrated by the simplistic nature of them.

Every dollar is a struggle for us, these seeds are not just seeds, but the commitment of valuable garden space for producing cut flowers for setting at market so that my son and I can survive financially. If these seeds are not the pollen free variety we need, then we can't sell them and we've wasted a lot of time and work.

Nothing in my experience of gardening in my entire life has shown me that hulled, unlabeled sunflower seeds would add up to an expensive cut flower planting lot.

I am left with choosing between returning these seeds at my expense, when they were not listed as hulled in your eBay ad, or using up an entire garden bed and hope they sprout and are the type that was claimed in the ad.

If these seeds are as you claim, at least give me the information I need to feel comfortable with my purchase, and not spend the next 6 months wondering if I've been had.

Thank you.

I don't know, am I asking too much? I do not feel comfortable with this purchase. Would you?

OK, so I was off to do research on the web again. You know, a lot of time in my life is spent on research.....

I could not find anyplace that recommended removing the hulls from seeds to plant them in your garden.

I did, however, find that people who sprout sunflower seeds for baby greens, or seed sprouts, buy them this way and that they are indeed supposed to sprout better that way. Many of them say it's good for gardens as well, as an added afterthought.

So I have several questions after all this

1. Why would anyone go to the time and expense of shelling these sunflower seeds for mass sprouting of pollen free varieties? You would not want to spend the extra money on a specialty variety that you were never going to worry about if it were pollen free or not, because you were going to eat them as sprouts.

2. I seriously doubt that this seller, out of the goodness of her heart, individually shelled 100 seeds for me, so they would sprout more easily. So she's obtained them, already hulled, somewhere else in bulk and is selling them off in lots of 100. How do I know that these hulled seeds are even the variety listed?

Actually, somewhere in my mind is a concise and logical list of successive questions to ask, thereby leading all to one conclusion. There is no way this is legit. However, it's locked away tightly in the Fort Knox of my mind and I can't seem to remember where I left the combination right now.

All I know is, we have a choice. Either return these at our own expense, or plant them and hope they grow, and double hope they are the variety she claims so we don't waste valuable garden space on a useless variety.

I don't think we'll be buying seeds off eBay again. I have since found many pollen free varieties, at good prices, from well known seed sellers. And I wonder if we can sprout one of these kernels and see what kind of flower it produces by real sunflower planting time....

Anybody out there with experience planting only the kernels?




  1. Hmmm. I certainly haven't ever seen sunflower seeds to plant without the shells! But I don't see why they couldn't be planted that way. I'd definitely try to sprout one. I sure hope you haven't been "had"! Does the seller have good feedback and all of that? Maybe other customers who have ordered this product you could contact or something? Perhaps she'd tell you who she buys them from in bulk so you could get more info? I dunno! :(

  2. I agree with captain's wife, I would try sprouting a few. In theory it should be okay, but of course I've never grown them that way, I've only done sunflowers with pollen. It's hard for me to believe that a seller would sell such large quantities if they weren't viable. It will only take a few days to see.

    Or better yet return them and go buy some pollenless sunflowers from Renee's Garden. I am fairly certain her's have hulls and her stuff is always gorgeous!!!

  3. Faith,
    I would try them as well. It seems if this is a scam... that if you return them, I highly doubt you would see your money back and you would be out even more money.

    I don't know much about sunflowers..but I have bought pepper seeds off of ebay numerous times and have no problem. I see your point however. I would have expected the hull to be on them as well.

    Let us know how it goes.
    Lori =0)

  4. If you are going to send that reply back, you might want to correct a typo I caught: "...cut flowers for seTTing at market..."

    missed you guys at church today!

  5. I've never seen them sold that way either. I'd put a few in a pot, then you'll know if they'll sprout or rot, but unfortunately you won't know if they are the pollen free variety before it's time to plant them in your garden.

    Personally I think I'd ask for a refund, then if you were scammed I'd report this seller and give them a bad score for others to see.


  6. Hey! Hope you figure this out soon :-S How confusing!

    The river is still iced, and we have a few glaciers... I mean really, really thick!!! In the time that we have lived here, we've never seen it do this. Our watering trough is iced over too, so we're having to remove the ice every day. Did the tennis balls work at all?

    That was the post! I was originally talking about the baby booties, but there was so much going on in that post, they kind of get lost in there!

    I'm really enjoying the journaling because it's not that I haven't been thankful, but it helps me throughout the day think of what I want to write down that night. It's amazing how much you can be thankful for that you didn't even think about in the first place! I also enjoy the time that I get to take to create the pages. Some good quiet-time!

    Hope to see you soon, and hope everything works out! Love~

  7. Jennifer,

    The seller had pretty good feedback, except she seems to withhold feedback until she gets hers first - sort of feedblackmail. There, I just coined a new phrase. That's going to be big.


  8. Jo,

    Yup, I'm going to sprout some. Hopefully even get some to bloom, if I can keep them warm enough and in enough light. I don't want to devote a whole bed to something I'm unsure of.

    You have a good point. I haven't been to Renee's Garden in a long time. I forgot about her!


  9. SBF,

    Yes, she does not seem really friendly, so I don't anticipate having good dealings with her.

    I'll keep you updated. Just boxed up your SCOBY for shipping today!


  10. Kasie,

    Nice catch! Thanks!


  11. Kelle,

    I agree with you, and normally that's what I would do. The thing that stopped me is actually fear. LOL

    I'm just starting up a sellers account on eBay myself, and the last thing I want is her to put a nasty feedback against me... drat!


  12. Leah,

    Nope. The tennis balls were an utter failure. Too fuzzy, for sure. I have no idea if smooth balls would work better, though.

    Those photos are amazing! I never thought I'd see the day! I need to steal them.

    The journals do make a beautiful memory of what the Lord has blessed us with, don't they. :o)



I always enjoy hearing from others. If you become a regular commenter, I'll assume you are being friendly and pretty much comment regularly right back. :o) God bless and have a terrific day!