When the heat of summer is a memory only rekindled by too much time close to the fire, and while no insects molest my plants aside from easily killed aphids or slugs, I can imagine the perfect garden. This year, I think, I will dodge drought, insects, and disease. Weeds will cheerfully refuse to germinate, while every seed I plant will sprout perfect leaves.
Of course, seed catalogs exist to make the gardener forget the troubles of last season and to dream about the coming year. The photographs of perfect vegetables and weedless beds help perpetuate this delusion. I engage in this fantasy, and I love it.
My favorite catalogs remain the same year after year. I usually order seeds from Johnny's Selected Seeds. They give cultural information and sell many disease-resistant tomato seeds. Maybe this year will be the year I try to graft some of my own tomato plants onto disease-resistant rootstock I purchase from Johnny’s Seeds.
To graft heirloom tomato plants onto disease-resistant rootstock, the nursery grows plants that are resistant to certain diseases, and plants that aren’t resistant but that produce tasty fruit. Then, horticulturists graft, or cause the tasty-tomato plant to grow onto the root of the disease-resistant plant, causing the resulting plant to be both disease-resistant and a producer of the desired variety of tomato.
Last year, I ordered heirloom tomatoes grafted onto disease resistant rootstock from White Flower Farm, and, although they were expensive, they did continue to bear the heirloom varieties, that I cannot grow, all season. The folks at Jung Seed have sent me some samples of their disease-resistant tomato plants, as well as some perennials, and I’m pleased with the tomatoes they produced. The perennials they sent me are thriving.
Heavenly Seed LLC, based in Anderson, SC, provides the least glamorous catalog but the most generous amounts of seed for the money; I buy most of my seeds from Heavenly Seed.
I have ordered fruit trees, vines, and bushes from Stark Bro’s and from Ison’s Nursery in Georgia. I am pleased with their products.
Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply is a California company with nearly every gardening/farming item imaginable. Peaceful Valley’s catalog and website provide information, obscure organic pest control products, and season-extension products.
I sometimes order seeds from Seed Savers Exchange, a nonprofit organization from Iowa, which sells exclusively heirloom seeds and John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds. I visited Seed Savers Exchange in 2011 and enjoyed the beautiful gardens and store.
In 2013, I visited Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. It has one of the largest collections of heirloom seeds in the US. Pinetree Garden Seeds sells small, inexpensive packets of seeds that are useful for small gardens or for trying out many varieties of seeds.
Visit these websites and request catalogs, or peruse the catalogs online, and you will be able to imagine and to plan the garden of your dreams, unmolested by insects, disease, heat, or drought.