Catalog season in the depths of Winter
I bought a house last summer and immediately have felt the pull to start putting down roots, literally and metaphorically. As we muddle along in northern New England with the visits from the polar vortex, I want to start planning for spring at the same time that I am hoping for more snow.
Does anyone have favorite catalogs for seeds and starters? Edible stuff only, chowhounds. I can't seem to sufficiently tend plants that I won't wind up eating in some fashion.
I infer from your post that you prefer a paper catalog to leaf through (or lust over!). Three of the ones I like the most (you can request a catalog from their websites) are
Johnny's and Pinetree are Maine-based, so you should be able to rely on their recommendations for northern N.E.
Other websites with large vegetable selections I have successfully purchased from in the past (you can request paper catalogs from the ones marked with * ) are (in no particular order)
SandHill * - http://sandhillpreservation.com
Sample - http://www.sampleseeds.com
Swallowtail - http://www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com/
Hudson * - http://jlhudsonseeds.net
Victory * - http://www.victoryseeds.com
TotallyTomato * - http://totallytomato.com
Heirloom - http://www.heirloomseeds.com
2Bseeds - http://www.2bseeds.com
and a primarily flower seed company that still has some good vegetable choices:
Dianes - http://www.dianeseeds.com
Many Pinetree and Sample offerings have smaller quantities of seeds, a good choice for the casual gardener.
(There are dozens of other good companies out there I just haven't tried. I'm sure someone will probably chip in with others.) Some garden sites (like DavesGarden) offer ratings on how well seed and plant suppliers are thought of. All those mentioned above have better than average ratings.
Baker Creek is great! Good quality seeds, tons of great, old-timey and delicious varieties. They have a great catalog too. I highly recommend them.
I have ordered from all of these several times with good results. I don't think I ever had a Renee's catalog, though.
Renee's Garden Seeds-vegetables and flowers; I get sugar snaps from here, and sweet pea seeds here too.
Peaceful Valley-organic. I get my garlic and shallots here, and some supplies. They also have seed potatoes and Renee's Seeds.
Kitchen Garden Seeds
Tomato Growers Supply-tomato, eggplant and pepper seeds
Seeds From Italy-favas and garlic, among other things
The Cooks Garden-haven't ordered from here in years, but nice catalog.
Harris Seeds-I bought a green house from this one, and I think a compost bin, It's been awhile
Territorial-great for a year round perspective, at least in the west. They have seasonal garden planners on their website.
spring growing guide
fall/winter garden guide
I don't recall ordering from Parks,Burpee's,Jung, and Gurney's, but the send catalogs.
Oh, and Johnny's
Fedco is wonderful fun - several catalogs, one for trees & shrubs, one for seeds, one for roots & tubers (I think). It's getting to be a bit late in the season to order, the deadline for discounted bulk orders has already passed.
The catalogs have lots of good information in them as well, to keep for reference. I believe all of their plants are grown locally (in Maine) by small growers.
re: thinks too much
The pages load for me OK, but the website is a little cumbersome. I don't think they sink a lot of money into it :-)
You can download a copy of their catalog, which is what i did the first year - in subsequent years they've mailed me a catalog for each of the catagories I ordered from (in my case, seeds and tress). Look at the left sidebar on this page for the "Download a Catalog" link:
Mulling over your "sufficiently tend plants" comment and had a thought for you. I like to grow a couple of set-it-and-forget-it-type crops. Things like shell beans to be dried (I prefer pole varieties since I don't have lot of space) and hard-shelled squash. Except for watering, they don't need a lot of tending during the growing season & you wait until the vines die back to harvest.
Potatoes done't need much attention either, though you do have to watch out for and squish bugs.
Garlic is another IME low-maintenance crop, tho it's a fall planting here. If you plant the smallish bulbs closely together you can take the green garlic shoots in the spring. Plus the garlic scapes in early summer and the bulbs themselves in late summer. 3 harvests from one planting is good in my book. I usually order garlic and potatoes from Territorial (though after the first year you can plant your own garlic that you grew).
I definitely agree with Johnny's, Baker Creek and Fedco. If you happen to live near a NOFA office, you can usually get in on their orders for fertilizers, potting soil, etc. from Fedco. Really nice savings. You still have time to order seeds from Fedco as an individual but next year if you can get in on a group order, you'll get a discount based on how much the group orders. I also ordered potatoes for the first time thru Fedco and was delighted with the sampler of fingerling potatoes. Each small bag was labeled and gave me the chance to try 4 or 5 different kinds.
What I don't like about Gurney's is I suspect they invent their own names for some items. I'd rather have more information about hardiness. Johnny's has some wonderful information on their website. I think that's where I got a succession planting schedule for my area. I also want to know if a particular variety can stand summer heat or if it's something that grows better in cooler weather. For example, some lettuce varieties can stand colder temperatures but can't stand summer heat so I buy different varieties and plant when they'll do their best.
Best wishes for your new garden.
northeast organic farmers association. Click on menu for your state http://www.nofa.org/
Here in NH anyone can get in on the bulk order for fertilizers. It looks like Maine has their own organization. So if you are in Maine, it's MOFGA. I don't know if they have a bulk order program but they put on a terrific fair in September - Common Ground Fair. We went last year for a full day. We could have been their the entire weekend. Lots to see and do.