Oh, the promise of a pile of seed catalogs! There’s something about a new year, making resolutions, cleaning drawers, and imagining all the things to grow this year. Personally, I need to try to clean out my giant box of seeds. I’m getting them organized, so I can plant the ones this year that I missed last year. Seeds are at their peak in the first year after collection. Look carefully at the information on the packet–some only keep for a year or two, some types of seed will still germinate after 3 or 4 years.
There are lots of great sources of non-GMO, heirloom, open-pollinated seeds for gardeners looking for something a little different from what your nursery stocks down the street. It’s great to get starts from your local nursery, especially if you’re just beginning to garden. But if you’re looking for orange cauliflower, or very short season melons, or anything unusual, you’ll get bit by the seed bug pretty quickly. Out here on the coast, we have an unusual combination of cool summers, high moisture, and short, late season. Heirloom varieties are a wonderful resource for finding tomatoes, peppers, corn, and other plants that normally need more heat and a longer season to produce well.
Nichols Garden Nursery (Oregon) Specializes in non-GMO seed for cooks and kitchen gardens.
Peaceful Valley (Grass Valley, CA) A fabulous all-around organic garden supply, they’ll throw in free seed packets of your choice for minimum size orders. Their motto is “grow organic for life.” They also post great instructional videos on specific gardening topics, like how to plant your new kiwi vine, or train your grape.
Renee’s Garden (Felton, CA) Specializes in heirloom seed varieties, also carries a beautiful range of garden flowers.
Territorial Seed Company (Oregon) A good general supplier. Unlike Peaceful Valley, it’s not all organic, but they do offer a wide variety of organic seeds and supplies, as well as heirloom and open-pollinated seed.
Victory Seeds (Oregon) Great heirloom varieties. Fun just to read the descriptions.
West Coast Seeds (Vancouver) A wide variety of organic, heirloom, and open-pollinated seeds, as well as organic gardening supplies.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, based in Missouri, owns the Petaluma Seed Bank, a store in the North Bay featuring wall-to-wall heirloom seeds. What a wonderful day trip for plant nerds! I had a great time in that store. I think the Baker Creek seed packets are some of the most beautiful, too.
The Cook’s Garden (Connecticut) Unusual kitchen garden varieties–if you’re growing to cook ethnic dishes and you’re looking for something particular, they seem to have just about everything. Just cross-check the seed requirements and planting instructions carefully, because they are based on the East Coast.
Turtle Tree Seed (New York) Biodynamic, unusual varieties. A delightfully funky catalog.
Did I miss your favorite resource? I’m always looking for new ones. Leave me a comment!