As the snow collects in back yards throughout the Northeast and Midwest, the blooming season seems far, far away. The short January days, however, are a great time to plan your garden for 2006. The stark snowy landscape makes it easy to see your garden’s structure without distraction from leaves and flowers. At my house, the new season’s seed catalogs start arriving in the mail shortly after New Year’s
Day. Just a couple at first, followed by piles of choices by Valentine’s Day. Here are my, somewhat subjective, choices for the best of the 2006 seed catalogs.
Seeds of Change
A great resource for organic gardeners, Seeds of Change offers 100 percent organic vegetable, herb, and flower seeds. They offer a huge selection, including several new introductions and many heirloom varieties. Their easy-to-read catalog also features gardening tips and recipes for using produce grown from their seeds. In addition, Seeds of Change has a limited number of vegetable and herb seedlings, sold in collections of complementary items, such as “Mediterranean” seedlings and “Basil Diversity” seedlings. They feature gardening tools, clothing, and books on organic gardening and cooking as well.
The grandfather of seed catalogs, Burpee’s has been selling seeds via mail for 130 years. Their catalog is still exciting to receive – kind of like the Sears Roebuck Christmas catalog of the 1960s. This 125-page comprehensive resource is packed with new introductions, many of them Burpee exclusives, such as this year’s “Maple Sugar Sweet Corn” and “Hot Lemon” pepper. There are also thousands of vegetable, herb, and flower seed varieties as well as seedling plants and summer bulbs, such as Cannas and Dahlias. If you can’t find it in the Burpee catalog, it probably doesn’t exist.
Thompson and Morgan
Another venerable seed company, Thompson and Morgan specializes in flower seeds, particularly those featured in English cottage gardens. Their extensive selection of seeds is shown with bright, colorful photographs, bringing a little bit of summer to a winter’s day. Thompson and Morgan also sells vegetable and herb seeds and a limited selection of seed starting supplies and gardening books.
Select Seeds features heirloom seeds for modern gardens. This company offers seeds for beautiful and fragrant flowers, such as Heliotrope, Phlox, and Lavender – just like your grandmother had in her garden. They also offer bulbs for such favorites as Cannas, Dahlias, and Gladiolus. Their catalog is informative and colorful and a delight to peruse.
Remember: it’s not too early to start planning your spring and summer plantings. While planning your garden, consider planting a couple of extra rows of vegetables to share with your local food pantry and make sure to include produce you can preserve for holiday gift baskets, such as salsa and jalapeno jelly.