It has been so warm this winter, with the exception of a few days last week, that I have not been able to engage in one of my favorite winter activities: reading seed catalogs while I sit by the fire. I have still read them, of course, but without a fire, something seems to be missing. While I enjoy the fire, I organize the seed I have left from last year, and I decide which varieties I will order for the garden this year. Packages of seeds cost a few dollars, and it is easy to experiment with many different varieties of plants to figure out which ones are happiest in your garden.
Two years ago, I ordered some fruit trees and bushes from Stark Brothers' Nursery (www.starkbros.com or 1.800.325.4180) and I am pleased with their products and service. As soon as I get my soil ready, I will order some more fruit trees so I can expand my orchard.
I do not think I have room to cram in any more perennials now, but perennials from Bluestone Perennials, (www.bluestoneperennials.com or 1.800.852.5243) fill my garden. They no longer sell perennials in three-packs; instead, they sell one larger plant for a lower price than the three packs. The catalog gives cultural information on nearly any perennial commonly grown in the US.
I have not ever actually ordered anything from White Flower Farm, www.whiteflowerfarm.com or 1.800.503.9624, but their catalog has unusual and beautiful plants. I found out about them from a Martha Stewart book years ago, and they appear to be a good, although expensive, nursery.
Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply (www.GrowOrganic.com or 1.888.784.1722), is a California company with nearly every gardening/farming item imaginable. Peaceful Valley’s catalog is good for information, obscure organic pest control products, and season-extension products.
For seeds, I order from Seed Savers Exchange, (www.seedsaversexchange.org or (562) 382.5990), a nonprofit organization from Iowa which sells exclusively heirloom seeds and John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds (www.kitchengardenseeds.com or (860) 567.6086), a catalog that is a work of art and provides detailed planting and culinary information.
The only truly local seed supplier is Heavenly Seed LLC (www.heavenlyseed.net or 864.209.8283) out of Anderson. It provides the least glamorous catalog but the most generous amounts of seed for the money; I buy most of my seeds from Heavenly Seed.
Johnny’s Seeds, www.johnnyseeds.com gives good cultural information for gardeners, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, (417.924.8917 or www.rareseeds.com, has one of the largest collections of heirloom seeds around. Pinetree Garden Seeds (207.926.3400 or www.superseeds.com) sells small, inexpensive packets of seeds that are useful for small gardens or for trying out many varieties of seeds.