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Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for the Plant Hardiness Zone Map? Click here to be taken to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, where you can select your state and find out the zone for your area.


All your gardening and seed questions, answered! For information on soapmaking and crafts, please scroll down.

This page will be updated frequently with new information, so please check back if you find there's a question that isn't answered!


Q: When will my seeds/products arrive?

A: At this time, orders are taking approximately 10 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 scroll down to the bottom of the page and fill out the form provided.


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: "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 perenials that require cold treatment.


Q: Pelletted seed and coated seed... what do they mean and what are the differences between the two?

A: Pelletted 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 managable 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 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 varities 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 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: No, we do not. All of our seeds are tested in house for high germination rates. Seeds are guaranteed for 90 days for replacement or refund. We not now, nor have we ever carried any genetically modified seeds. We strongly believe that GMO seeds do not contribute to a sustainable agriculture model and we are comitted to the ideals of sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship. We are actively working to carry more organic and heirloom selections and appreciate your support. Pinetree Garden Seeds is proud to have signed the Safe Seed Pledge: "We pledge that we do not knowingly buy, sell or trade genetically engineered seeds or plants."


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: 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.


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 inches. 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: 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 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 pelletted 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


Q: How should leftover seeds be stored?

A: Storage conditions are very important to seed viability. Exposure to moisture causes seed viablilty 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 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. 


Spring Items Planting Instructions 

Coming soon! 



Soapmaking and craft FAQs & recipes


MELT: Determine amount of melt and pour soap base needed for your project. One 2 lb. glycerin bar makes 12-14 two to four ounce bars. Carefully slice soap base into small pieces and place in microwave safe container or in a double boiler. Heat on low for 20-30 second intervals, stirring between intervals until melted. Be careful not to overheat or your finished soap will sweat.
MOLD: Remove melted glycerin from heat and stir in cosmetic color, scent, and additives listed below. To suspend additives in the soap, let it cool slightly otherwise the soap will be too hot and it will affect the strength of the scent and suspended materials will sink to the bottom instead of floating throughout the bar. Pour into mold and spritz surface with rubbing alcohol to remove bubbles (optional). Allow to cool until hard and remove from mold.

FOR LAYERS: Melt glycerin and add first color. Pour into mold and let cool slightly until thin skin forms (110° f). Spray with rubbing alcohol and then add second layer of colored, melted glycerin. If glycerin is too hot, colors will blend together. The alcohol helps the layers to stick together, especially if the soap has cooled too much. Cool completely before removing from mold.


These add vitamins and minerals to your skin and help soften it when added to soaps or lotions. Can be used to make massage blends, or when added to beeswax and butters: face and body creams, lip balms and lotions. Most oils can be used 25-100% in massage oils, 5-10% in soaps, 2-10% in lip products, 25-75% in scrubs, and 2-5% in creams.

LANOLIN - A honey-like liquid from sheep wool, easily absorbed, soothing, creating a natural barrier that increases moisture in your skin. Hypo-allergenic, it inhibits bacterial growth, and makes a wonderful moisturizing bar, and creamy lotion.     

ARGAN OIL - Rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, it has healing, conditioning and anti aging properties that keep your skin and hair nourished. Can use as a daily moisturizer, helps heal skin irritations, nourishes split ends, softens cuticles or cracked heels, controls hair frizz, and more

Sweet Almond Oil: The most popular oil it is light weight and easily penetrates into your skin to moisturize it. Rich in vitamin E.

Jojoba oil: Frequently used for hair and scalp care, hand and cuticle care. For bodycare it is best blended with other carrier oils. It contains antibacterial properties and holds scent well for making perfume and absorbs quickly into your skin.

Coconut Oil: This is a semi-solid that melts at skin temperature. It can be used directly onto your skin or added to lotions and soaps. It is a great moisturizer for cracked or brittle skin.

BABASSU OIL:  Solidifies in cold temperatures but is easily melted. Soothing, protective, conditioning and moisturizing to the skin.  Penetrates quickly without a greasy after touch. A common additive to shampoos for dry scalp and lotions for itching skin. 


A great addition to any soap or lotion that gives moisture to your skin and softens it. Use 3-5% for lotions, 5-100% for lip products, and 3-6% for soap.

Aloe: This is a semi-solid that easily melts into your skin when used by itself. It has all the healing properties of aloe with coconut oil added for easy use and longer shelf life.

Shea: For skin care, shea butter is great for its protecting and emollient properties. It is an excellent cosmetic ingredient with vitamin E and A, known for their anti-oxidant and skin nourishing effects and the healing substance allantoin. Its addition gives soaps and lotions great creamy and deep moisturizing texture.

Cocoa: The 3/4” diameter wafers are easy to melt and is very effective as an emollient, used in creams and soaps to soften and soothe skin.

ACAI: Adds moisturizing nutrients and contains some of the highest levels of antioxidant attributes and may aid in the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles by increasing natural collagen synthesis.

HORSETAIL: Helps rebuild and regenerate damaged skin. Also used for improving cuticles and nails.


Kaolin White: a china clay that nourishes the skin as it removes dirt and toxins from it. Excellent for making your own body powders or when used for hair care is good for removing dirt and oil residue while nourishing the scalp.

ARROWROOT POWDER: Used in body powders for silkier, smoother skin and as a deodorizer. In moisturizers as a thickening agent. Also helps dry up skin blemishes and rashes.

Citric Acid: Adds texture to soaps and is a gentle exfoliant. Commonly used in making bath fizzies or fizzing bath salts.

Beeswax: Easy to use granules that melt quickly to add to your soaps, creams and lip balms. Adds softness or your lotions for more body and texture. Makes an excellent clean and bacteria-resistant base for your cosmetic recipes.


Our essential oils are 100% pure is a highly concentrated derived from the actual plants flower, leaf, root or stem by steam distillation. These oils should not be used internally or undiluted on the skin. When diluting essential oils, use a carrier oil  such as: Sweet Almond, Avocado, Babassu, Jojoba Oils. Some suggested dilutions are 10-12 drops per ounce for massage oils, 1-3 drops per ounce for soaps and 3-10 drops per ounce for baths. Most essential oils are natural antibacterials that help preserve your product.

Caution: Some oils cause skin pigmentation when exposed to direct sunlight, such as bergamot, ginger, lemon, lime & orange. Also use caution with essential oils if pregnant-use only ½ the amount. You can do a skin test by diluting an essential oil with a base oil and putting a small amount on you to check for sensitivity.

The fragrant oils are created synthetically by various chemicals to simulate the true scent of the flower, fruit or plant. They vary where one might have two ingredients (one pure and one synthetic) others may have several synthetics. We have no specific ingredients list since the manufacturer under the FDA “trade secret” law does not have to disclose the ingredients when making their fragrances.


One tablespoon (1/2 ounce) of dried herbal powder will color an average of 10-12 bars of soap.  The easiest way is to add a few drops of oil and make a paste then add to the melted soap. The pigment powders are non-bleeding, non-fading, bright and water soluble. They make a vibrant opaque color in clear soap bases and a pastel color in white soap bases. The dried botanicals are for those who prefer the natural colors and texture making it a mildly exfoliating soap.

ROSE HIP POWDER: light to dark cinnamon color                                BLACK WALNUT: medium to deep brown color
PUMPKIN: gold to orange color                                                                     ALKANET: pink to deep burgundy color
SPIRULINA: jade green color                                                                         COBALT BLUE: true blue color
BEET ROOT: pink to dark cherry color                                                      LAVENDER PIGMENT: true lavender color
MADDER ROOT: chestnut red to orange color                                         WOODLAND GREEN: true green color
SPINACH POWDER: mossy green color                                                    YELLOW OXIDE: goldenrod yellow color
CARROT: cream to beige color                                                                      ROSE PETALS: dark brown to black color
LAVENDER FLOWERS: light green tint                                                    CALENDULA FLOWERS: ochre or yellow color


Homemade Mascara: 1/8 tsp. kaolin clay, 1/8 tsp. argan oil, 1/2 tsp. activated charcoal, 4 tsp. aloe vera gel.
Combine well and put into mascara tube using a funnel or scoop into plastic bag and cut corner to squeeze into tube.

Homemade Eyeliner: 1 Tbsp. argan oil, 1/2 tsp. kaolin clay, 1/2 tsp. activated charcoal
Combine well and put into eyeliner tube using a funnel or scoop into plastic bag and cut corner to squeeze into tube.

Homemade Foundation Powder: 1 tsp. arrowroot powder, ¼ tsp. rosehip powder, ½ tsp. madder powder. Slowly add small amounts of the rosehip powder and madder powder to the arrowroot powder until you get the desired tint to match your skin. Put into powder container or add 3-5 drops of argan oil and press into hinged compact with back of spoon.

Hard Working Hands Soap: 4 oz. oatmeal glycerin soap base, 1/8 teas. pumpkin powder (or color of your choice), 2 drops of orange essential oil, 3 drops of grapefruit essential oil, ¼ tsp. pumice powder. Melt soap base and add color. Remove from heat and stir in scent and pumice. Pour into soap mold and let cool. This soap removes the tough dirt from your hands.

Energizing Leg Gel: For slow or tired muscles at the end of the day. Mix ½ cup aloe vera gel, 1 Tbsp. witch hazel, 1 ½ teas. arrowroot powder. Combine aloe vera, witch hazel and arrowroot powder in a microwave safe container. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until the ingredients are well mixed, then allow to cool. Add peppermint oil and stir thoroughly, pour into a container with a tight fitting lid. Store in a cool, dry, dark spot, where it will keep for 3-4 weeks. To use, massage the gel into your legs and feet for an instant invigorating, cooling sensation.

Summer Sandal Scrub: This will slough off any dead skin and make your feet look their best once sandal season hits. Mix ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. aloe vera gel, 1 tsp. coconut oil. Stir all ingredients together until you have a smooth paste. To use, massage 1-2 Tbsp. into each foot, focusing on rough areas, such as your heels. Store any leftover in a jar with tight fitting lid in a cool, dry, dark spot.

Men’s Afterhave: 2 cups distilled water, ¼ cup vodka or witch hazel, 15 drops of essential oil of your choice (try allspice, cedarwood, fir, lime, rosemary or sandlewood). Combine all ingredients and store in a glass bottle. Splash on face and neck as desired.



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