I dreamed about my garden last night. Really. I did. I dreamed that beautifully uniformed plots of lettuces and greens sprouted on their own as winter faded, surprising me as I walked around the garden to inspect it after the snow melted. All I had to do was cut the the glossy bunches and bring them inside. And that would happen, of course, only in my dreams.
That dream is probably a good sign that I’ve been thinking about our upcoming gardening season quite a bit already, and it’s all because of the delightful seed catalogs that have been arriving in the mail since December rolled around. While stores will be stocked with plenty of nice varieties come April and May, I have really come to love browsing seed catalogs in the heart of winter for a few different reasons.
So, you may be wondering, what is so great about shopping seed catalogs? Oh, dear reader, they are a gardener’s delight!
There is an abundance of variety. You’ll find more kinds of tomatoes than you could imagine and an interesting selection of plants that you never knew existed. Most catalogs carry a variety of vegetable, fruit, flower, grain, and herb seeds with enough choices to make your mind spin with possibilities. When the basic seed varieties hit store shelves in the spring, I love knowing that my stash at home is already filled with an outstanding variety of interesting plant types.
You can better plan your garden. Browsing seed catalogs over a few weeks or a couple of months gives me plenty of time to figure out what seeds I have already, what more I want to grow, and what I can pass on for the next season. The descriptions in seed catalogs also give much more information than the basic seed packs available in stores so you can select your seeds with more confidence.
The prices can be fantastic! The key word here is can, because every seed company has their own price ranges and rare seeds will always cost more. My favorite seed company has really amazing prices and even offers discounts on large group orders.
Last year when I posted on the various types of seeds available to home gardeners, I linked to an article from Mother Earth News that listed some fabulous seed catalogs. From those I’ve picked out my very favorites and the ones I am most likely to order from. If you want to try a few seed catalogs and not inundate your mailbox with printed gardening goodness (but how could you not want to do such a thing?!), try these:
- Fedco carries seeds, plants, trees, bulbs, tubers, and gardening supplies, and is the place I shop first for our seeds. Their catalog lacks the glossy full-color pages that other companies offer, but it is filled with engaging seed descriptions, humorous illustrations, and take-it-or-leave-it political commentary (I generally leave it). Their prices are fantastic, especially if you can get a large group order together and take advantage of the group discounts available. I will be placing my Fedco order within the next couple of days with hopes to get some of the seed varieties that are in short supply. Since they are located in Maine, they also sell many varieties that do well in cooler areas of the nation.
- Bountiful Gardens is a much smaller catalog than Fedco’s, but they offer only untreated open-pollinated seeds along with many heirloom varieties. They also offer many seed varieties that are very hard to find anywhere else. Since I prefer to plant open-pollinated seeds, I like not having to weed through a large selection of hybrid seeds while browsing through the Bountiful Gardens catalog. A new catalog from Pinetree Garden Seeds caught my eye recently as it carries some of those same rare seeds, but I haven’t ordered from them, at least not yet.
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds is the place I try if a better-known variety that I like has sold out from Fedco. Though they sell many F1 hybrids, they also have a nice selection of open-pollinated, heirloom, and organic seeds. Their catalog is full-color and large, so if you need to see a picture of what you want, you might like Johnny’s.
A few new catalogs hit my box last month, as well, and if I try one and like it, I’ll be sure to let you know next winter.
Now how about you other gardeners? Do you have a few favorite seed companies? You may know of a great place that I am not familiar with yet, so please share!
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