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28.12.11

The Best Garden Seed Catalogs

The Best Heirloom Garden Seed Catalogs


You can tell a lot about a gardener by walking through their garden, but if you really want to get to know a gardener take a peek inside their mailbox during seed catalog season. Seed catalogs are more than just a listing of the current offerings of a particular seed company, at least the good one are. They’re archives of common names, a seed’s history in gardens, and instruction manuals. Seed catalogs are also passports that allow gardeners to travel to distant lands, and teleport months ahead in time and imagine what the next growing season will be like as they flip through the pages. A handful of seed catalogs will let you know if the gardener prefers heirlooms, vegetables and herbs, or ornamentals and the year’s fanciest hybrids.

Like with so much else in life, technology is displacing the need for printed catalogs because a company can just list their seed selection on their website. Add to that the rising costs of doing business, the consolidation of seed companies, and the pickings can seem slim if you prefer printed seed catalogs. Fortunately, if you know where to look (and are willing to pay a few dollars in some cases) you can still participate in the tradition and escapism that is a seed catalog.

Below is a listing of printed seed catalogs that I recommend. The seed catalogs range from heirloom vegetables and herbs for the traditionalist. Exotic fruits, vegetables, and herbs from around the world for the adventurous gardener. Flowers and grasses that attract wildlife to our garden. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but rather, a sampling of seed catalogs that I think (based on my experience) you’d enjoy. visit the seed company's website to request a catalog. Some may be free, others may cost a few dollars or only be shipped with an order.

http://www.jlhudsonseeds.net
http://www.rareseeds.com (Baker creek Heirloom Seeds)
http://www.johnnyseeds.com
https://www.superseeds.com (Pinetree Garden Seeds)
https://www.botanicalinterests.com
http://www.highmowingseeds.com
http://www.kitazawaseed.com
http://www.seedsavers.org
http://www.rhshumway.com
http://www.territorialseed.com
http://www.landrethseeds.com
http://www.burpee.com

What does my list of seed catalogs say about me? What kind of gardener do you reckon I am, or wish I was? Are there any printed seed catalogs that you’d recommend for me after viewing my list? Feel free to drop your suggestion in the comments, or share your experience with any of these seed catalogs that you think other gardeners would find helpful.

Note: you can find these seed companies and more listed in my Seed Snatcher search engine. It is a search engine powered by Google that only displays the results that I carefully select. These sources are websites, blogs, forums, and articles about everything related to seed companies, how-to seed sowing and saving articles.

22 comments:

  1. Two of my favorites are Chiltern and Silverhill Seeds but really I am a pretty big fan of any place that sells seed. Definitely one of my favorite things about gardening is growing stuff from seed.

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  2. @kaveh Chiltern (http://www.chilternseeds.co.uk/) and Secret Seeds (http://www.secretseeds.com/) are two catalogs that I really want to get my hands on, but they're in the UK and I have investigate if they'd ship me a catalog. Thanks for the suggestion and for jogging my memory about Secret seeds.

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  3. What a great post, MGT! Am trying to learn the patience necessary to grow from seeds, and have a lovely cutting bed well started from the fall. Have been intrigued to see those little plants just hanging in there this winter!

    Think I'll try a vegetable or two this year, too. I did discover Renee's Garden last fall and Stokes, but have to admit that I did use the online service and not a paper catalogue.

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  4. I posted on FB last night that I'm pretty sure I had most of the catalogs I usually get. Now you've proven me wrong --- I'm still missing several good ones! I've never ordered from Kitazawa, so I just ordered a catalog so I can check them out. Great post, MBT!

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  5. Perfect post - I've been thinking I need to get catalogs! Ordered 5 in the past 3 minutes :)

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  6. Your selection says: you are classic yet practical.

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  7. Thanks for the post. I've been asking friends if they've gotten their seed catalogs yet. No one else had, so I wasn't worrying, but by now I'd expected to have some in the mail. Guess I'll sign up for a few and try to get the ball rolling.

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  8. I just got a Comstock & Ferre Co seed catalog today and it's absolutely gorgeous. The photos are like little works of art! - http://comstockferre.com/

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  9. In addition to Baker Creek, I am a huge fan of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange http://www.southernexposure.com/

    Their seeds have an OUTSTANDING germination rate and their selections reflect many tradition varieties of the Upper South and Appalachia.

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  10. That's a good list...I've been starting to get some in the mail. The bliss that looking through a seed catalog in January is something you just wouldn't understand if you aren't a gardener. I think my favorites are Baker Creek and Seed Savers. Baker Creek in particular is like full-on seed p$rn.

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  11. I also like the Richter's Herbs catalog, though they sell plants as well as seeds.

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  12. Anonymous5:38 AM

    I just about died laughing at GardenMom's description of Baker Creek. That is EXACTLY how I describe it to people. I will forever be their devoted cheerleader. I also second the Comstock Ferre recommendation. The owners of Baker Creek bought it thus saving New England's oldest seed house. Also very pleased to see Landreth on the list. It's the only seed catalog that I know of that has a cover price but it's an amazing resource and they can use all the support they can get right now.

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  13. Thanks for putting together this nice list! (Should work better than the Cheerios seeds I bought last year that never grew into donuts.)

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  14. Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Hope you find these useful and if you have any suggestions for catalogs to add feel free to drop them in the comments.

    BTW, my selection of catalogs I think says that I'm rather bougie ;0)

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  15. I love Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, especially for gardening in the Mid-Atlantic, because they offer proven performers for our hot and humid summers! R.H. Shumway is owned by J.W. Jung, which is owned, in part, by Monsanto (Jung and Jung Seed Genetics are registered trademarks of Monsanto). R.H. Shumway does have a disclaimer on their policies page saying they do not knowingly sell genetically modified seeds, but I'd rather my money didn't get diverted into Monsanto hands if at all possible.

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  16. Hi LJ,

    Do you have any information on J.W. Jung being owned by Monsanto? I couldn't find anything on the matter with any credibility. Back in 1997 part of the company was split off and then that part was eventually bought by Monsanto. What Monsanto bought was Jung Seed Genetics which if you go to their site you'll see that it deals in crops for farmers (i.e, corn, soybeans). If you do a whois search for the Jung Seed Genetics you'll see that it is registered to Monsanto. If you do a whois search for rhshumway.com and jungseed.com (J.W. Jung) you'll see it is registered in Randolph, WI., not St. Louis, MO like all of Monsanto's other domains.

    Here's a thread on the SSE forum talking about this issue and how the company is owned by the Zondag family who doesn't have plans of selling and seem to be pretty proud of their multi-generation family business.

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  17. LJ, Sorry, here's the link to SSE thread I mentioned above http://forums.seedsavers.org/showthread.php?t=1805

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  18. Ah, I knew I would stir the mud, and being a gardener, that's one of my favorite things :) I stand corrected on them being owned, in part, by Monsanto, since J.W. Jung sold his business to Zondag and another family, which operates Jung Seed Genetics from right next door to J.W. Jung. However, the part I'm not willing to waiver on is that they are listed as a seller of Seminis seeds, and Seminis is "...Monsanto’s global vegetable seeds brand for open field crops (melon, broccoli, squash, beans, lettuces, spinach, onions…)" I was surprised to see Johnny's on the list as well, but I do understand that the Safe Seed Pledge doesn't say they won't buy from Monsanto, only that they won't sell genetically modified seed. http://us.seminis.com/products/hg_dealer.asp

    I still won't buy seed from Monsanto, no matter how many middlemen there are between me and the "evil empire," but that's a personal choice that I've made. If it means giving up my "Sweeter Yet" hybrid cucumbers that I love so much, I'll do it. I'll eventually find more sweetness in following my principles.

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  19. Anonymous7:08 PM

    http://www.seedsofchange.com/garden_center/catalog_request.aspx

    Seeds of Change is a great seed catalog. 100% organic, too!

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  20. Anonymous10:23 AM

    Here are the facts about Jung. http://www.jungseed.com/GardenersCorner.asp?article=Jung+Seed+Company%2C+Monsanto+and+Seminis&aid=51&id=5

    They do sell some Seminis seeds, and the list is in the above link. They're non-GMO, but if you're staying away from Monsanto... they still have tons of other seeds.

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