The Truth About Seed Catalogs

Today, I’ll share with you some of my thoughts about ordering seeds and plants from catalogs I love getting gardening catalogs in the mail in late winter. It might be cold out, it might be freezing and snowing But I can pick up a catalog and start thinking about spring and what I’m going to do in my garden Looking at all the new opportunities, The things I haven’t tried before.

What I’m going to try this year. Some of my gardening friends, and I call this gardening porn. Yeah, like we’re really looking at it for the articles. No we’re looking at it for the pictures We’re looking at things that maybe we’ve never seen before. And the best catalogs typically have the best pictures.

That’s one of the things I try to find. Of course pictures aren’t everything. You really do have to focus on what you want to grow what you can grow and what your garden will allow you to grow. For the school garden I order a lot of seeds each year to try new things and to stock up with the seeds and plants that I prefer For that reason I scour the internet and try to find catalogues of Just about every Internet company that I’ve been able to find that offers a free catalog.

I’m not always willing to pay $5.00 or sometimes more for catalogs to be sent just so I can then buy hat company seed, so I prefer the the free companies, and there’s a lot of them out there And they’ll be more than glad to send you their catalogs. So where do you start? You’ve got a lot to choose from.

All these companies will send you catalogs if you just ask They all typically look the same some cost more some cost less What’s the first step Ask some of your gardener friends particularly those that have been doing it a while who they order from Chances are they’re gonna pick some of the companies that I like to order from companies like Johnny’s seeds They’re a favorite of almost everybody One of my favorites is Baker Creek heirloom seeds I get almost all of my trees and shrubs from Stark Brothers Annie’s is another wonderful favorite.

I love Territorial Seed. Their catalog is relatively plain, but they offer some things that a lot of other companies don’t offer. Botanical Interests is a wonderful catalog to order from. I’ve had good success with Jung Seeds. If you want to order a lot of seeds this HPS catalog has got wholesale quantities and prices Seed Savers Exchange is one that everybody should support because of their basic principles.

I love the RH Shumway catalog. It’s like you were ordering seeds from the 1920s or the 1930s There’s a lot out there. These are some that I picked out because I’ve ordered from these particular companies, and I like their catalogs What do your friends say? What do they ordered from? That’s another great place to start.

You may not want to order catalogs from some of these other companies that I’ve mentioned, because they offer a lot of choice. They offer flowers, vegetables. Sometimes plants, sometimes seeds, If you’re looking for just one thing in particular why don’t you do a search and find out what that one thing is.

Let’s say you just want to grow tomatoes Well, you might want to order the Totally Tomatoes catalog or maybe get the one from Tomato Growers Supply Company How about potatoes? I’ve actually ordered potatoes from the Wood Prairie Family Farm It’s a wonderful family-run operation in Maine, and I love what they have to offer When I’m looking for native plant seeds.

I got a catalogue for Plants from the Southwest You can focus based on what you want and what you’re doing and get just that catalog if you want Once you’ve done a search or ask somebody You go to their website order a catalog and then. typically, they start to arrive in December and then into January and February And when you get the catalog One of the first things you’re going to want to do is look at it of course.

They’ll typically tend to be set up the same way. The family run companies tend to start off by telling their story Often very interesting and it gets you to want to buy from them They’ll talk about what they do where they’re at and then they start getting into what they offer typically It’s alphabetical So a company like Baker Creek whose website is rareseeds.

com They’ll start with amaranth and move on to asparagus artichoke then to beans But of course don’t rush through this fast because you’ll see some cool stuff like This Borlotto Di Vegevano Nano, which is a bush bean And look at that color. Who wouldn’t want to grow that in your garden? I’ve actually grown this Dragon Tongue, and had great success with it It’s a wonderful plant.

Now almost all of these beans look really cool in the catalog. When you cook them they’ll turn green, but at least in the beginning you get to have something that’s really cool on your plant so you continue thumbing through What I like to do is when I come across something that I like is either Dog-ear the page like maybe I want to grow these Jackson Wonder bush lima beans Personally I’m never going to grow a lima bean in my garden, but let’s say that I am for this example we go through and Oh, here’s a really cool black corn that I might want so I’ll dog here that catalog and I just keep Going through page by page highlighting What I want to order Once I’ve gone through all the catalogs and marked what I think I might want to grow then I start looking at the price in this catalog the Broad Windsor fava bean is an ounce for two dollars and 30 cents with about 15 seeds per ounce.

I go to this company over here and I find out that they’ve got got Broad Windsor of fava beans 25 seeds for two dollars and fifty cents I go to this company over here and They don’t sell fava beans But they do sell Rattlesnake beans and they’ve got a packet which is 2 ounces for 2 dollars and 85 cents Which if I go back to this catalog over here, I see that they have Rattlesnake beans with a package for $3.

And I do this for all the seeds I want to order, from all the companies I want to order from I mark everything from one catalogue everything from another catalogue everything from another catalogue and then compare the prices to see which ones offer the best deals for what I want. And sometimes you’re going to find that what you want isn’t available from the company that might be offering the best price for something else.

So what do I do I? Order a little bit from that company and a little bit from that company and a little bit from this company and the ones that have the same items throughout, I order what’s cheapest. I also look for deals. Sometimes there’s a threshold. If you order $30 worth of seeds they’ll throw in free shipping, or if you order $25 worth of seeds they’ll throw in free packets of other seeds Those are some of the things I look for as I’m trying to decide which companies to order from and which seeds to choose When you finally decided to order from a particular company just open up the middle of the book, and you’ll typically find an order form with an envelope that you can send in So even though I’m a little old-school by liking to look at the hard copies of these catalogs and really enjoying the pictures I don’t send in my form.

I order online It’s easy It’s fast and if you want a deal typically you’re going to find a deal online as opposed to what might be printed months in advance One of the reasons I recommend that you talk to other gardeners to find out who they’re ordering from is to find out which catalogs they like and which catalogs they don’t like.

A number of years ago, I ordered some plants from the Burgess Seed and Plant company. Their prices were really cheap, and I couldn’t pass up the offer When the box arrived most of the plants were really in a condition that weren’t usable. They had rotted, they were mildewed and I haven’t ordered anything from the company since The address for the Burgess seed company is 1804 East Hamilton wrote in Bloomington, Illinois Coincidentally Honey Creek Nurseries is at 1804 Hamilton Road If you look in the catalog for Exciting Gardens, you’ll see that their address is 1800 Hamilton Road And if you look in the Interstate Nurseries catalog you’ll find that their address is at 1800 East Hamilton Road Continuing on to the h House of Wesley catalog you’ll find that their address is at 1704 Morrissey Drive in Bloomington, Illinois The Four Seasons nursery is at 1706 Morrissey Drive And Kelly Nurseries is at 1708 Morrissey Drive Now I’m not saying that the quality of all of these other Catalogues equals the bad experience I had with Burgess, but because their addresses are so similar I have to believe that they’re all being sent from the same distribution center Which implies that you’re basically getting the exact same product regardless of which of these catalogues you order from There are some big seed companies in this business and there’s a lot of small family-run operations.

In that last example I think that was one of those big seed companies. They do a lot of mass marketing. All those catalogs I just showed, I didn’t order a single one of those. But obviously one of these other companies that I did order a catalog from sold my address to the big seed company I don’t know who that is.

I’ll just order from the companies I like and try to stay away from the company is that I’m not as happy with. If you’re just ordering seeds chances are you’re going to be happy with just about any company you go with. There’s some other YouTube videos out there of gardeners who have run tests on the cheap seeds or the expensive seeds.

The seeds that come 7 – a package and the ones that come 2000 – a package and ultimately the plants produce pretty much the same plant with pretty much the same results. If you’re ordering plants however from catalogs, you might see a big difference. Some of which I’ve already pointed out. So why are seed catalogs a big deal? Why do I get too excited? One it saves me money Even with shipping the cost of the seeds I order from a catalog Will be less than when I buy at the big-box store or even the local nursery.

If I’m buying quantity of seeds One packet here one packet there, if your garden’s that small, yeah, you might not gain anything from ordering from a catalog But I grow a lot of plants and I like to try new things so the cost is one thing But the variety is really where the catalogs are at. That’s why I get so excited It’s finding something that I’ve never heard of before I’ve definitely never planted before and I want to do it for this year It’s maybe getting something from somebody else in the way of a suggestion of what they grew and finding something in the book that they haven’t grown and now gardeners like to brag back and forth.

Maybe I can do something that they haven’t done Definitely something that I haven’t done Another reason I love seed catalogs and like to order from them is because of what some of these companies represent This is Seed Savers Exchange their purpose for existence is to keep some of what we have grown in the past alive for future generations They’re trying to save some of our heritage, some of our history through their seeds and they encourage their network to support this and offer new seeds for all of us to grow.

There are companies like Territorial and Baker Creek. They’re all about open pollinated seeds and Organic seeds and the type of things like heirloom seeds in this catalog like the Seed Savers Exchange It keeps our history alive, it keeps their history alive, and they have a story to tell in every catalog with every seed.

I like catalogs like Johnny’s. They go a step further and not only do they tell you about the seeds but they tell you about the plant, how it grows and what you need to do to keep it alive It’s a wonderful catalog So yeah, I like seed catalogs. I like to order catalogs, and I like to order from catalogs I like to look at the pictures I like to spend a dark cold night thinking about what the warm summer day will bring to my garden I like to save money ordering and planting from seeds.

I like to help family-run businesses that are trying to sustain our home gardens. I like to read and learn from a company that’s telling me a little bit that I didn’t know There’s a lot that catalogs can offer you and I suggest you order some of your own, start reading start ordering and Enjoy the process.