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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Favorite Seed Catalogs

Jessica Walliser
Hobby Farms Contributing Editor

Planting new seeds and returning to old favorites can be a rewarding process
I'm excited to start growing seeds, both old favorites and new varieties.

The seed catalogs have really started rolling in, now, and it’s so exciting. I was talking with some fellow gardeners yesterday about their favorite catalogs and about some of the new varieties they are looking forward to trying this year. It was interesting to hear what everyone had to say and I was very surprised that almost everyone had a different favorite catalog.  Here are some of the interesting things I learned:

  • The Cook’s Garden catalog, which I had heard about but never seen, has a really cool new tomato called Green Envy. It’s a large, slightly elongated cherry tomato that’s bright green even when it’s ripe. I’ve grown Green Zebra before and really enjoyed it but never had a green cherry before. I don’t think I’m going to plant any myself, but I’ll have to convince my friend to share.

  • Territorial Seed apparently is the first company to offer grafted tomato plants to the general public. I guess commercial growers have been using them for quite a while but home gardeners have not had the opportunity before now—unless of course, they were willing to graft their own. My friend Doug said that the rootstock comes from very disease resistant and vigorous varieties and then they graft regular tomatoes, like Early Girl and Big Boy or whatever, on top. Apparently in side-by-side comparisons, the grafted varieties continued to produce later into the season, showed more vigorous growth, and were more disease resistant and productive. I’m thinking about buying one or two (the seedlings aren’t too terribly expensive) just to see for myself.

  • Herronswood Nursery, which has been a longtime favorite of mine along with Plant Delights for unusual perennials, has some really terrific stuff. The ”covergirl” on this spring’s catalog is a gorgeous new Echinacea (purple coneflower) called Pomegranate. It looks kind of like a bright-pink, cactus-style dahlia or zinnia but obviously it isn’t. A bit too expensive for me, but in a few years, I might be able to convince my friend to pass along a division!

  • Seed Savers Exchange is my own personal favorite catalog for this year. (In previous year’s it was High Mowing Seeds, which still maintains a very close second place!) I think the cover photo is utterly breathtaking. It’s an image of a bunch of different purple veggies like eggplants, beans, “greens” and the like, with some bright-yellow cherry tomatoes tumbled over them.  And, of course, what’s inside is breathtaking, too. They have so many unusual heirloom seed varieties, and I’m looking forward to trying many for myself this season.

Can’t wait to get growing!

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Reader Comments
This was a very helpful article to get me thinking about planting/chore timing for our garden.
Connie, Bend, OR
Posted: 1/13/2015 10:06:58 AM
Great info!
Jared, Powell, WY
Posted: 9/8/2014 6:34:11 AM
The best seed catalog is the world is Fedco Seeds in Maine. This company is worker-owner, the prices can't be beet (haha), and the commentarys within are thought-provoking and insightful. A real pleasure to be their customer for 10> years.
DD, Waxhaw, NC
Posted: 7/10/2014 1:21:31 PM
I'm surprised you don't mention Gourmet Seed. I love getting seeds from them.
Galadriel, Lothlorien, ME
Posted: 10/23/2013 11:36:41 PM
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