Harold’s Seed Catalog Review
Getting back to the garden after a rather eclectic posting last week, I am going to begin the New Year with a review a few of the catalogs I am scouring as I plan for next year’s planting.
Each year the onslaught of seed catalogs descend on gardeners across America. I am no exception. I have fewer than many, but thus far I am sitting in front of 10 catalogs. Each one providing me with assurances that I will get the greatest quality of seed that will result in the most vigorous and productive plants. I have catalogs from which I consistently buy seed, but, I always give others a chance to WOW me.
Although I will occasionally stray from the sources I generally use, I actually feel as though I am betraying my tried and true companies when I do.
My seed catalog review is a list of the three catalogs I use the most, in order of my preference.
Johnny’s Selected Seed
This is my real go-to catalog. I like the philosophy of this employee-owned company. The diversity of seed varieties is broad, but even more; the Johnny’s has the most detailed growing information for most species of vegetable and flower seed that they sell. This is a great help I am trying to stage my planting to maximize and extend production. They really are, by design, a catalog for the organic and conventional market gardener.
What Makes It Really Different
I have learned a lot from the books by Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman – especially “The Four Season Gardener.” In it there are recommended gardening tools. Some were tried and true standards; others were invented by Eliot Coleman. Eliot Coleman partnered with Johnny’s Seeds to offer many of these tools, and just about everything else that a market gardener would need.
This Season’s Discovery
A couple of years ago I was in Walmart, checking out their produce section and found prepackaged bags of small, tri-colored sweet peppers. I bought a bag and was hooked on their intense yet sweet flavor. But, as they were some sort of secret hybrid, my 3 years of research to find the seed for these tasty beauties has turned up empty.
Perhaps it is just a teaser, but this year Johnny’s Seed is offering what appears to be this pepper. I will definitely be growing these peppers as an addition to my offerings at the Davenport Farmers Market. I hope others find them as delicious as I.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
I first got this catalog several years ago and saw it as a smarty pants company just capitalizing on the new rage for growing heirloom produce. The images of the family who owns the company were too staged and too cutesy. The celebrations they sponsored were too staged in an attempt to be quintessential.
So, Harold – if it is so bad, why do you rate it at your top 3 catalogs? There was always something about this catalog that continued to draw me back.
What Makes It Really Different?
The images of the produce are outstanding. With over 1400 varieties of heirloom seeds, the diversity is exceptional. It is hard to find fault with the quality of the catalog. The packaging of the seeds also sets them apart.
What Am I Buying This Year?
Last season, the addition of the Moon and Stars Watermelon was a real find. This year I am still not sure what I will select – but it will definitely be something pretty, flavorful and unique – with choices overflowing in this catalog.
My last selection in my Top Three Seed Catalogs is a bit more obscure, but it meets with my southern sensibilities.
Willhite Seed Company
I have been buying seed from this company for more than 20 years. They have a small catalog without a huge diversity of seed varieties or the glitz of the other two. But, this seed company in Poolville, Texas, infuses in its pages all of the southern crops that remind me of growing up.
What Makes It Really Different?
With no less than 50 varieties of watermelons as well as purple hull peas, okra, sweet potatoes, and collard and mustard greens, you have all the ingredients for a real southern garden.
Planting is never far from my mind
After the long summer and fall of drought the clay in the soils shrink, creating deep fissures in the land. When the weather turns killing, everything that was once protected from the cold by several feet of earth is now exposed, as the cold pours through gaping cracks – freezing tree roots and breaks water mains. Under the blanket of snow, however, everything is muted, protected, and buffered from the cold and wind. The snow was a real relief to see – for me – with my new peach trees, asparagus, and raspberry bushes; and for the town – with miles and miles of water mains – any of which may be susceptible to the dry freeze.
It seems like a long time before I should be thinking about spring planting. But, the staging of the garden begins with the transplants, and that is just 3 short weeks away, when I start celeriac seeds for Bonnie Dumler. Then, it is a steady march toward eggplant, then peppers, then tomatoes – and before long the heat will see the riot of the garden again.
I have to admit it. I am not a fan of winter. But, as with all who live here and further north, it is the occasion to work on “winter projects”. Mine is the commercial kitchen. Currently, no less than 3 different crews are working – repairing the plaster walls and preparing to paint, running electrical lines, and preparing to install the HVAC.
Until then we have had to buy an industrial propane heater just to get the temperature high enough to melt the sheet of ice covering the storefront windows… but now it is a toasty 70 degrees – much to the relief of the workers.
There are no construction progress pictures on this post – but, by next post there should be a lot to show.