Recommended seed companies:
Johnnies – www.Johnnieseeds.com – (877) 564-6697
Fedco – www.fedcoseeds.com – (207) 426-0090
Sandhill – www.sandhillpreservation.com – (563) 246-2299 – (no print catalog, no orders by phone.)
Nichols – www.nicholsgardennursery.com (800) 422-3984 (No print catalog.)
Geoseed – www.geoseed.com (888) 645-2323
Jelitto – www.jelitto.com – (502) 895-0807
HPS -www.hpsseed.com (800) 322-7288
Most gardeners in the northeast, including myself, like Maine’s Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog. They offer straightforward descriptions for the serious gardener and a nice variety of garden tools. I appreciate their selection of sunflowers and cut flowers. Before I order anything from Johnny’s, I look for the same seeds at another Maine company, Fedco, because the quality is the same and the price is guaranteed to be lower.
Another seed catalog that is online only is Nichols Garden Nursery out of Oregon. They offer a great choice of common and hard to find herbs and vegetable seeds. You can find golden bantam corn, butter crunch lettuce and green arrow peas at Nichols. You can also find Zaatar (“wild marjoram”), Agretti (“land seaweed”) and Melokhiya Corchorus olitorius (“the most widely consumed vegetable in Egypt”). Nichols gives growing descriptions and often cooking directions.
For perennial seeds my go-to catalog is Jelitto. They have more than 3,700 varieties of seeds. Many perennial seeds can be tricky to germinate. Jelitto carries a line of pre-treated, ready-to-sprout (no cold stratification needed) seed that they designate “Gold Nugget” seed. They are pricey, but the results more than justify the extra cost for me.
For example, at Burpees, buying 50 seeds of Oklahoma Mix zinnia costs $4.95. At Geoseed buying 1,000 Oklahoma Mix Zinnia costs $4.95. Because it is essentially a commercial business, you are committed to buying a trade packet, so in this case, unless you have a lot of zinnia-loving friends, 1,000 seeds might be going overboard. However, the more expensive seeds are sold in smaller amounts. They offer 100 Zahara Starlight Rose zinnia, one of my favorites, for $3.70. Burpee offers 50 of the same seeds for $5.95. GeoSeed does not sell vegetables.
Amanda Sessel Legare has operated Amanda’s Greenhouse in Cabot for 25 years where she grows both annuals and perennials. www.amandasgreenhouse.com – 426-3783
I buy most of my flower seeds from GeoSeed in South Carolina. Although the catalog says “Seed for Professionals”, I called the company and was told anyone can order. If the order is under $100, the shipping and handling charge will be $6. Not only does this family-run business have a huge selection, its prices are terrific.
By Amanda Sessel Legare
The arrival of seed catalogs helps us deal with cabin fever. In choosing my catalogs I consider the selection, the price, the descriptions and past experiences with germination and service from those companies. Some catalogs seem to be written by a PR company. I want to sense that the person writing the descriptions has actually grown the plant. I have been gardening for 50 years and most of my seeds now come from seven main sources.
Horticultural Products and Services (HPS) out of Randolph, Wisconsin, is geared towards the grower, but they also offer smaller seed packets at excellent prices. They have a broad selection of annual flowers, herbs and vegetables and I always end up getting some seeds from them as well.
It’s Seed Catalog Season! Let Me Help You Choose the Best By Amanda Sessel Legare The arrival of seed catalogs helps us deal with cabin fever. In choosing my catalogs I consider the