Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Order, Please...

Get two avid gardeners together and bring out a seed/plant catalog.
That's it. That's all the entertainment we need for the evening.
We had friends over the other evening, including one couple who have been market gardeners for years. He is quite interested in trying new things, especially perennial foods, like berries.

I'd had the One Green World catalog out, this same couple at one time had recommended trying goumi berries and jujube berries, which had grown quite well for them. So I was looking for those and other unusual, but possibly Kansas-hardy berries and fruits.

He picked up the catalog and began paging through it, a feverish look in his eye. I recognized that look, for I see it from the inside on a regular basis. We spent the rest of the evening discussing various berries and fruits to grow. OK. Call us plant geeks.

I love the One Green World catalog and Web site because of the company offers so many different types of fruits and berries. Many of them I'd never heard of until I picked up the catalog. It sends me into a tizzy of oooh, aaah, I want I want.

And it is time to start ordering seeds. I like to do mail order because I have a much larger selection and can get the seeds much earlier than when I buy from the nurseries -- although I still buy plenty from local nurseries.

As far as seeds go, my favorite catalog is the one from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, which other gardeners I know call "gardener porn," because the large, glossy full color photos of squashes, cabbages, beans, etc. set our little hearts going pitty-pat and, well, the less controlled of us might even drool.

Baker Creek has led the the charge against genetically modified organisms in our food supply (I'll do a rant on that some other time) and test all their seeds for GMO, to insure that they are pure. Download their virtual catalog from their Web site (or order a paper copy) and read what they have to say about it.

Next on my list is Seed Savers Exchange, an organization devoted to preventing various lines of garden seeds from going extinct. Beautiful photos and a lovely variety of heirloom and open pollinated vegetable and ornamental seeds. Seed Savers, like Baker Creek, has taken the "Safe Seed Pledge" to keep GMO seeds out of their stock.

Open pollinated varieties are important if you want to save seeds, as hybrids will not breed true from saved seed. Sometimes, a hybrid is what you want and Johnny's Selected Seeds has a great selection of hybrid and open-pollinated seeds, as well as numerous tools, soil amendments and supplies. Johnny's also is a member of the Safe Seed Initiative. Numerous companies have signed this pledge.

Although the catalog does not say that they have signed the pledge, Pinetree Garden Seeds states that it does not carry GMO seeds. This little catalog isn't as pretty as some, but it has a nice variety and inexpensive prices. However, seed counts in the packets are frequently (but not always) less than in more costly packets. That is a good thing for people who garden on a very small scale. It also allows you to try something new without much investment.

Nichols Garden Nursery has been one of my favorites for years. A couple of years ago they went paperless and no longer mail catalog versions, you can either go to their online store or download their virtual catalog for a more familiar type of catalog shopping experience.

Finally, I go to Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply, not for vegetable seeds and plants generally, although they do carry those, but for supplies. They carry a large selection of growing supplies from plastic clips to hold the plastic or shade cloth in place, to the makings of large greenhouses, as they cater to large growers, with emphasis on organic products (organic pest and disease controls, for example). Buying large quantities often nets you a discount. I purchased a 2,000-foot role of row cover from them several years ago and am still using off of it.

Finally, if herbs are what you want to grow, check out Horizon Herbs. This company's Web site mae me flush and drool because of the incredible selection of herb seed and plants offered. Many of these I have not seen offered elsewhere, and some I hadn't heard of before.

Many other fine seed and garden supply companies exist, but these are my favorites so far. Enjoy shopping and then planting and growing.


The Harried Homemaker said...

We like many of the same seed companies that you do. Seed Savers Exchange, Baker Creek, and Johnny's get our business. I buy things like liquid fish, kelp, etc. from Peaceful Valley.

We are establishing a small orchard on our property and are incorporating permaculture principles. I'm glad to have a source for goumi berries, which are a recommended plant. Any ideas about where to get Siberian Pea? That one is hard to find here in Kansas!

Sandra M. Siebert said...

I am not familiar with Siberian Pea. Is it a cover crop or food crop (could be both)? I get Austrian winter peas for a cover crop from Peaceful Valley.

The Harried Homemaker said...

Siberian Pea is more like a bush or small tree. It is a powerful nitrogen fixer that loves any kind of soil. The author of Gaia's Garden recommends planting it near or even in the same hole as a new fruit tree. Supposedly you can even use it for poultry food. I need to get my hands on that wonder plant! lol