Fog has insinuated its steely cold embrace on the island, persuading me to just stay inside until our sleepy January sun rises to a height of full muster. At the table, I’m snug in a favorite old sweater, one with more wool in the pilling than in the weave, and surely on the verge of revealing an elbow or two. At my feet, bundled bulldogs snore in unison like mumbling metronomes. Wicked warm slippers save my bare feet from cold bare wood floors, and a cup of joe promises to keep me toasty on the inside once it cools itself down on the outside. Before me a stack of seed catalogs teases with vibrant colors and the promise of future bounty: the perfect January morning.
I have my favorite seed catalogs, each with its own personality, whether glossy, rustic, heartfelt or quirky. To me, the following seed catalogs welcome spring just as surely as the first crocus or daffodil. I’m just covering the tip of the asparagus spear here, but that’s part of the promise of growing things; each season I discover something new, in a purveyor, a crop, cultivar or practice. So with each page I turn, I’m planting potential, and licking my chops in anticipation of the delicious harvests to come. (A little imagination can go a long way on a foggy winter day.)
My Favorite Seed Catalogs… and the List Grows
Links provided by clicking company names.
With over 1400 heirloom seeds available, and photos that I swear were taken by an out-of-work pin-up photographer, Baker Creek tops my list of seed catalogs that make you salivate. As much coffee table book as catalog, there is not a page portrayed that is not ripe with the passion of growing great things and discovering new and forgotten varieties.
For everything the Baker Creek catalog is, FEDCO is not. And therein lies its charm and power to woo you; it looks, feels and reads like some dog-eared treasure found in an a dusty attic chest. Sketches, vintage etchings, descriptions, expert advice and humor are replete on each page in a chockablock fashion that compels you to make sure you didn’t miss a thing.
Here’s another great seed seller who gives you the opportunity to buy smaller quantities at lower prices. I like to grow a lot of varieties, so this affords me greater range in the garden and on the table. The catalog also has a seed section for Asian, French, Italian, Middle Eastern, and Latin-American vegetables as well as dyeing and medicinal herbs.
This engaging catalog is a fine little work of art with Beatrix-Potter-like paintings of vegetables suitable for framing or decorating the warren of Peter Rabbit. You’ll find great descriptions, interesting varieties and seed amounts clearly shown. And if you’re a flower fanatic, wait until fall and be blown away by their bulb catalog: Beauty from Bulbs.
A non-profit, member-supported organization that saves and shares the heirloom seeds, Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) really put heirloom seeds and seed-saving on the map. The catalog and website are first rate, offering plant diversity rarely seen in other catalogs. SSE supplies me with seed for my favorite cool-weather watermelon: blacktail mountain.
Territorial Seeds is a well known and respected seed catalog from the Pacific Northwest gardener and grower, a catalog that covers an amazing array of seeds tested in and for a climate where cloudy skies outnumber clear days. Territory Seeds turned me on to my favorite French pole bean: Fortex — a curious name for an outstanding green bean.
Artistic Gardens offers a seed catalog on a shoestring, but don’t let that fool you. As a loyal fan, I like their seeds because they have really inexpensive packets of seed sampler packets available. So if I want to try new varieties out, I can do so without breaking the bank. I mean who really needs 1,000 chard seeds. Packet prices range from 35 cents to $1.00 and they have exceptional shallot sets.
This is my first year ordering from High Mowing Organics Seeds, but my farming friends have nothing to but accolades to share about this company. I’d have to say it’s easy to support an operation with this philosophy, “…we believe in re-imagining what our world can be like. We believe in a deeper understanding of how re-built food systems can support health on all levels – healthy environments, healthy economies, healthy communities and healthy bodies. We believe in a hopeful and inspired view of the future based on better stewardship for our planet. Everyday that we are in business, we are growing; working to provide an essential component in the re-building of our healthy food systems: the seeds.”
My friend Anne is paying attention. I forgot to include Johnny’s Seeds on my list of favorites, so I’m here to correct that omission. As she said in her comment, “I have to put in a good word for the good folks up in Maine at Johnny’s Selected Seeds (www.johnnyseeds.com) Do order a catalogue!– you’ll be glad of it. In addition to carrying loads of things to grow, they’re breeders who have won a number of AAS awards (I can attest to the excellence of their Sunshine, Confection and Black Forest squashes), they design tools, and their catalogue is such a trove of information that you feel like you’ve completed an agronomy course just by studying it (I like people who make me feel smarter). Plus, they’re employee-owned and strictly non-GMO. Their website is full of useful stuff, too…I’ve been buying from them for probably close to 20 years, and know a lot of commercial farmers who prefer their seed, as well.” Thanks Anne, sometimes I need supervision.
And the Fog has lifted…
What’s your favorite seed catalog?
I’d love the hear about your favorite seed catalogs and companies. Please feel free to share your tips and seed resources in the comment section below and/or add them on the link tool below: