It’s beginning to look a lot like spring you’d think with all of the seed catalogs beginning to arrive at gardening houses all over the Northern Hemisphere. But if you haven’t received one, yet, and you don’t want to feel left out, and are beginning to understand the need to go ahead and get your garden planned now, here are the:
While online seed sources are always wonderful, you can’t take them with you if you’re like me without a i-device in which to view them. I love getting the physical catalog to mark, to make notes in, to dog-ear and to cherish.
There are a great many heirloom & organic seed companies (that’s another post), and I’ve ordered from many, but I’m focusing on the physical catalogs today.
Why do you want to focus on heirloom, organic and non-GMO seeds compared to the variety you get at the DIY stores? First, most of the seeds coming from local DIY stores are hybrid varieties, which means they tend to not be able to produce seeds that can raise a reliable crop the next year, thus you are no only getting chemically treated, altered food varieties, you have to go back the next year to buy more seeds. However, they can produce more than heirloom varieties during their growing season, which is why so many do love them. They are also GMO modified, meaning they’ve been bred with specific gene sequences to create a better crop, look better (because no one wants to eat an ugly tomato, right? 😕 ), and resist certain diseases. (To get a better understanding of all the differing terminology of seed production, check out my friend Jennifer’s post at AreWeCrazyorwhat.net – The Dirt on Seeds.)
So what are my favorite catalogs for seeds that are non-GMO, heirloom, organic, and other variety of labels that appeal to the organic gardener? Here is my:
Top 10 of Seed Catalogs for the Prepared Gardener
Seed Savers Exchange – a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. Since 1975, our members have been passing on our garden heritage by collecting and distributing thousands of samples of rare garden seeds to other gardeners. This is what makes this company so cool!
Bakers Creek Rare Seeds – a company that specializes in heirloom varieties – and a superb company to deal with. And their catalog isn’t half-bad, either! (one of my favorites – it’s gorgeous!)
Johnny’s Selected Seeds – Not only do they offer organic, heirloom and self grown seeds, they are an employee-owned company, which is always awesome! This is one of the very first seed companies that I’ve dealt with, and they remain one of my favorites.
Southern Exposure Seed Savers – a worker-run co-op specializing in seeds from the mid-Atlantic/South Eastern growing region, but many work around the country. And they have the coolest catalogs!
D. Landreth Seed Company – the oldest seed house in the country. Their catalog does cost $5, but when it’s something that you pour your gardening dreams into, it’s worth it! I ordered the 2013, and it’s great to know that the 2014 seed prices will remain at 2013 levels, and there’s no need to order another one! Love companies that make it easier!
Fedco – Another co-op that is worker & customer owned. They specialize in cold-hardy varieties (though many will work nationwide), and ship plants/bulbs only ‘in-season’. They ship seeds from January-September, and are closed in the fall to create an awesome catalog. Don’t let the black & white fool you – this is my ‘education’ catalog. This was the first catalog I ever ordered, the first company I ever ordered from, and will always be one of my go-to’s.
High Mowing Seeds – a company dedicated to changing the way America feeds itself! I love the philosophy of the company that doesn’t come across as a high-brow gardening co-op, but as someone really dedicated to their philosophy, and makes it easy for you to embrace heirloom and organic gardening.
Seeds of Change – Another company founded on the idea of changing the way America looks at gardening and feeding itself.
Annie’s Heirloom Seeds – a smaller, less well known company that focuses primarily on heirloom varieties. I love giving the small family businesses my business!
Territorial Seeds – while this company doesn’t deal with exclusively non-GMO, organic, heirloom varieties, they do offer those choices among it’s seed selections. So look carefully at what you’re ordering. They are a good company to deal with (but because they aren’t exclusive, they go towards the bottom of the list).
So get your catalogs now! It’s time to begin order so that you can get your gardens started as soon as possible!
While the seed catalogs are awesome and full of info, I also rely on these gardening books to get me ready:
- Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew – how we garden
- Texas Gardening the Natural Way by J. Howard Garrett – while this book is specific to Texas climates (there is a vast difference in climates in TX.,take your pick!) the basic information on organics is useful everywhere.
- Mini-Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham
- Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery – this is a good general reference for all-around homesteading
- Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs
- Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver – this is one of my favorites in the reality of homestead gardening.
- Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza
- Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte (companion gardening)
There are tons of great gardening books out there, and I haven’t read them all. Go to your local library and just immerse yourself for an hour or two and check out a many as you can. Read them at your leisure and invest in the ones that you find yourself wanting to go back to over and over.
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