working on my seed-catalog list: any favorites?

runner bean seedsI EMAILED MY FRIEND ANDREW LAST WEEK to ask what’s new in seed catalogs. It’s that time of year to make sure you’re on the list for the email alert or a physical copy as soon as the best ones open for 2010 business. Andrew always has a line on some clever plant-related thing or other, but no, he said (being Andrew-like), I don’t have any right now…but then of course rattled off a few that were new to me anyhow. I’m updating my Sources list and thought I’d put out the word for other hot leads, like these from my old pal:

Andrew (we did a radio show together and he co-owns a local nursery near me) was right when he said he and I use a lot of the same ones, year in and out—Johnny’s and Sand Hill Preservation and Baker Creek and Seed Savers and Fedco and the others displayed under “Sources” in the sidebar on every blog page here. But I had never been to Ginny Hunt’s Seedhunt before, nor to Secret Seeds in England, not even virtually. Thanks, Andrew.

The former is serious business: an old-fashioned list like all my favorite catalogs were when I was first learning to garden (meaning no photos, and lots of Latin names). It’s filled with things I’m enjoying looking up and then imagining places for in the garden, an impressive list of California natives, for instance, some of which would do as annuals and maybe even then self-sow here; an equally strong list of Salvia, and more. Don’t be shy: I don’t know what an Amsinckia is, either, nor a Hemizonia—but I’m having fun finding out. Winter is long, and dark here, and besides, I am easily entertained.

Secret Seeds uses proper names, too, but there are also thumbnail photos of everything from Goji berry (in the health headlines for its supposed anti-aging properties) and a whole line of Laura Ashley flowers, of all amusing things. I expect I will have some distractions in this catalog’s online pages, which include both ornamentals and edibles, in weeks to come.

Which unusual titles are you waiting most impatiently for at your (digital or postal) mailbox?

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, David, and thank you — I think a friend had told me I could get a particular kind of shelling bean there and I will now go look; I had forgotten completely. Great one. See you soon!

  1. nina says:

    I just received my Baker Creek catalog today! Wonderful photos – they are online at rareseeds.com and have provided strong service and germination – for our farm near 20 years now.
    All of their seeds are non GMO. Also, I have priced many bulk seed offerings from most of those seed companies mentioned above – and Baker Creek prices are most often the best!

    We get heirloom tomato plants custom grown for us locally – from these seeds – anyone in the TriState NY area interested in buying some of these plants from us this Spring, please email me at ambrosiafarmsny@yahoo.com.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Jess, and thanks for the referral to Uprising…off I must go to investigate. Love the name, of course. :) See you soon again, I hope.

  2. Evelyn says:

    Dear Margaret,

    Are there any catalogs or other sources for the hot desert area. We live in zone 8, but the winter temperature can go as low as 15 degrees and the summers as hot as 113. We would like to grow our own food, but had no success this past summer. Thanks.


    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Evelyn. Seeds of Change (located in New Mexico) would be where I would start; they know the arid region first-hand, though their expertise and assortment extends far beyond. For ornamentals, I love David Salman’s catalog called High Country Gardens (also in NM), which specializes in tackling tough spots such as you describe. Those would be my starting points, along with your county extension service (I don’t know where you are located, sorry — but they often have lists of specialized sources such as you are seeking).

  3. Cary says:

    Hi Margaret, I just found your site this morning and am blown away! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am a 30-year organic gardening girl from southern California relocated to southeastern Connecticut last month and am eagerly looking forward to learning to grow vegetables in my new 6-acre home. Your site is manna from heaven for me. I will be back often! Sorry to blather on… seed catalogs, hmm… about the only one I love that I have not seen mentioned is a terrific Asian vegetables site http://www.evergreenseeds.com/. They turned me onto komatsuna and their delightful Joker spinach. Thanks to you Margaret, and all of your readers for reminders of so many beloved seed catalogs. Keep up your great work!

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Cary. Welcome to the Northeast (and put on your long-johns). :) I usually look in Kitazawa (another Asian specialist of almost a century in business) but wow, Evergreen looks great. Wonderful tip. Off I go to shop…just what I needed, more seeds. See you soon.

  4. Terryk says:

    This is what I get for wandering around in your monthly chores first thing in the morning, more seed Catalogs to investigate! I don’t think I should read another monthly chore list. At this point I will need a larger veggie garden and more than my few family members to help tend it (especially since the darling daughters are ones that may not buy into my “family gardening” plan).

  5. Here I am, three years later, with my own list of Seed Catalogs and the great companies behind them.

    Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
    Gourmet Seeds International
    Irish Eyes Garden Seed
    The Maine Potato Lady
    Nichols Garden Nursery
    Renee’s Garden Seeds
    Territorial Seed Company
    Uprising Seed Company

    I did a little review of each one on my blog, Tiny Tim’s Garden (http://tinytimsgarden.blogspot.com/)

    What eye candy!

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