Plan Your Plantings with Seed Catalogs

     Seed catalogs used to come in the mail after the holidays. Not anymore. This year the inundation started around Thanksgiving. After gardening for more than 40 years, I think every seed company and mail order nursery knows my address. My mailbox seems to explode with catalogs earlier every year.

     But once the holidays are over, they’re a welcome reminder that spring is coming in not so many weeks.

      One of my favorite catalogs is Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Winslow, Maine (877-564-6697). For some of the best vegetables, herbs and cutting flowers, they can’t be beat. They offer organic and non-organic seeds and cater to small commercial growers and home gardeners. They have their own breeding program to produce seed varieties with special qualities that perform well in diverse growing conditions.

     In Johnny’s selection, you’ll find some 16 pages of lettuces and specialty greens. There are also great selections of tools and specialized equipment for small growers. Elliott Coleman, author of many vegetable gardening books, has designed many of the tools they offer.

     I order bulbs from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs in Gloucester, Virginia (877-661-2852) or Beauty from Bulbs by John Scheepers in Bantam, Connecticut (860-567-0838).

       Park Seed in Greenwood, South Carolina (800-845-3369) is a venerable company celebrating 152 years. Amid a great selection of vegetables and flowers, they are featuring the tomato Celano hybrid, a grape tomato that grows in large grape-like clusters for patio gardening. It has excellent flavor, is semi-determinate and is resistant to blight. They also feature zinnia Zinderella, which looks like a gerbera daisy.

      Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds from Mansfield, Missouri (800-234-3368) features wonderful heirloom seeds. In these pages you can find Chinese pink celery, black nebula carrots, mini blue popcorn, a shoepeg-type of corn called Country Gentleman, scarlet Goji berries, French dandelions and more.

      Select Seeds in Union, Connecticut (800-684-0395) offers seeds and plants of rare heirloom flowers, open-pollinated and native flowers. They have a great selection of sweet peas, poppies and nasturtiums.

      When the winter winds blow, surround yourself with seed catalogs and dream of spring.