It’s almost that time again, folks! Planting season. My grandfather, a lifelong gardener always said you should sow your first seeds on Easter Monday. I don’t necessarily follow that rule to the letter but it’s a fairly reliable measure of when we’re unlikely to have any more frost in our area. As for myself, I’m usually pouring over seed catalogs by February, dreaming of the beautiful garden I hope to create as soon as it’s warm enough.
There’s lots of places to buy seeds in the spring. Home improvement stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot are my grandfather’s usual choice but you can also get them at gardening shops, grocery stores, health food stores and sometimes even discount stores such as the Dollar Tree! (I can’t attest to the quality of seeds purchased at the Dollar Tree. If anyone has any experience with those, please share in the comments!) If you’re lucky, you may have gardening friends to exchange seeds with, or maybe you obsess over seed catalogs like me.
In the spirit of the approaching planting season, I’d like to share my favorite seed catalogs with everyone. So here they are! Click on the name to be linked to their site.
Based in Bloomington, Illinois, Burgess is an excellent source of nursery stock. They have all kinds of berry bushes, grape vines, fruit and nut trees, and flowers. They really lean more towards permaculture than annual vegetable seeds but they do have a small selection of non-gmo seed stock. Another cool thing about Burgess is that they send you a free gift with your order. This season, they’re offering the vine peach, a native American fruit that is much like a peach but it grows on a vine rather than a tree. I can’t wait to try it!
High Mowing Organic Seeds offers a rich variety in non-gmo certified organic seeds. The catalog is pretty basic. The name of the plant, a brief description and a few pictures of different specimens fill each page of the recycled newsprint style paper. I dislike the ratio of pictures to seed offerings in this catalog. They offer so many unique varieties but less than a third of them are actually pictures. I like to try new varieties of vegetables but I’m less likely to buy if I don’t have an idea of what the end product will look like. Still, this catalog is of interest for its sheer volume of offerings as well as small articles about the individual farms and growers that produce seed for this company.
Although not strictly a requirement, there are definitely benefits to ordering your seeds from a company that’s in the same hardiness zone. Since they have the same weather as you, they can give the best advice on what grows well in your area. Also, chances are, they are not too far away from your location so your seeds don’t have to travel as far to get to you. That’s what I like about Southern Exposure. Since their headquarters isn’t too far from me, I know that I can rely on them as a source for seeds that thrive here in the southeast. Their offerings are pretty vast, and include lots of heirloom varieties of fruits, vegetables, and other plants. They specialize in non-gmo seeds. I always find something exciting in their beautiful catalog.
Speaking of beautiful catalogs, nothing compares to Baker Creek’s Rare Seeds catalog. It is a pure work of art that I enjoy as much for the stunning photography and entertaining articles as for the massive variety of unique heirloom seeds from around the world. All of their seeds are open-pollinated non-gmo and come at a fairly reasonable price. I look forward to their catalog each year and could spend hours just ogling all the cool plants.
So there you have it: My favorite seed catalogs. Where do you buy your seeds from? Are there any other catalogs you’d like to share? Leave a comment and let me know!
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