Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ode to Seed Catalogs


           January is one of my favorite times of the year, because I get to review the past year and plan for the year ahead. One of the greatest perks is the many hours I spend pouring over seed catalogs. There is no one ultimate seed catalog, so I literally spend hours searching through catalogs. I compare seed types, find favorites, consider new varieties and read tidbits to better improve my farming. Things like color, date until harvest, seed stock and height are only some of the things I have to consider for each type of vegetable and flower that would best suit my farm and growing conditions.

My favorite seed catalogs are based on being locally grown, stories, good photographs and growing tidbits. Being a lover of books- I thrive on the physical seed books. That being said, all of these companies have amazing online ordering systems and well informed catalogs available online.


Here are some of the ones I make sure to check out every year: 
P.S. Just copy and paste the web address. I had to de-link them.

Local:
It is best to start locally with locally grown and tested varieties that make it easier for your own gardening. A few of the closest are:

Annapolis Seeds- They have no paper catalog but online.
http://www.annapolisseeds.com/

Hope Seeds- A Certified Organic outfit based outside of Granville Ferry. http://www.hopeseed.com/home

Halifax Seed- Catered to mainly home growers, they have many tried and true varieties for the Nova Scotian climate. The store is worth a visit too! https://www.halifaxseed.ca/

Vesey's is another local wonder (PEI) that has beautiful pictures, a large variety and tidbits.
http://www.veseys.com/ca/en/


Stories:

I am always fond of a good story, especially when it is about a heirloom or heritage variety. I want to hear the history about where the seed originated, or why it was grown.

The Cottage Gardener- Based in Ontario, This one has been a long time favorite, where I can find many of the most special varieties on the market today. No pictures, but it doesn't bother me because of their lovely descriptions. Interesting flower selection too. http://www.cottagegardener.com/

A newer (to me) find is Manitoba's Heritage Harvest Seed- It has the largest heritage tomato seed collection I have every come across, with plenty of other veggies. http://www.heritageharvestseed.com/
(P.S. If it can grow in Manitoba- it can grow here easily!)

Seed Savers- From the US, and you can sometimes find the same varieties on the Canadian Side, but I lavish in their stories and heritage collection. This is where seed saving truly began and is worth your visit! http://www.seedsavers.org/


Tidbits:

A good grower should keep some seed catalogs to have as a quick reference for seed starting and for growing those new-to-you veggies. The Winners include:

West Coast Seeds- An Organic outfit from BC, this seed company has a great catalog, although the titbits are for mainly warmer climate, including the planting out dates.
http://www.westcoastseeds.com/#sthash.aekh23F3.dpbs

Johnny's Selected Seeds- From Maine, this business is directed for larger market growers and are the ones who are breeding heirloom plants into more productive and disease resistant varieties (etc). They have tons of useful information included http://www.johnnyseeds.com/

High Mowing Organic Seeds- Another US grower (Vermont) that is newer to me, but I continue to be impressed by their catalog and stories. http://www.highmowingseeds.com/


Etc:

Willam Dam is based out of Ontario, with a great veggie selection but are renown for their flower seed selection. When it comes to flowers, this is one of my go-to's! http://www.damseeds.ca/

Richters Herbs- This Ontario outfit has every herb available and specializes in plants with herbal and medicinal elements. It is a very interesting read! You can also buy the plants instead, as some can be difficult to start from seed.
http://www.richters.com/


Your probably wondering why I have listed so many seed companies. I am seed obsessed (comes with the territory) and can also tell you that I have not listed all of the seed businesses that I buy from. I am able to support different companies and let them continue their amazing work. Without their dedication and hard work, my farm is not what it could be today. So Thank You seed producers and savers!

- Amanda

A love of seeds is also a love of history- That is why I had to throw in some pictures of vintage seed catalog covers. Find these at:
http://www.sil.si.edu/digitalcollections/seednurserycatalogs/index.htm