The View From The Garden

Like any plant nerd, I love to read plant and seed catalogues and have done so for years…even during the 30 years I lived in New York City in a loft in a neighborhood with NO soil (lots of dirt but no soil.) I learned a lot of things about gardening and what plants need to thrive from this reading. And since this is the time of year when we should be doing that reading, I will list some of my favorite catalogues.

For vegetable seeds, potato tubers, onion and leek plants, and garlic and shallot sets, I start with Johnny’s Selected Seeds from Maine. It offers seeds for most anything one wants to grow in a vegetable garden with growing instructions for each type of plant that includes information on culture, starting the seeds, planting, harvesting, storage, insect control and more specific information on each variety with many other bits of  information all throughout the catalogue. Seeds can be purchased in various quantities from a small amount to very large amounts. There are also small fruit plants and seeds for cover crops, herbs and flowers.

After selecting the basics from Johnny’s, I fill in from other catalogues where I find the more unusual or less-used varieties. Totally Tomatoes from Wisconsin has a huge amount of tomatoes, an amazing assortment of peppers sweet to hot, and some very interesting cucumbers.

For us bean lovers, The Vermont Bean Seed Company offers a tempting selection but most importantly my two favorites: Jade bush beans and Fortex climbing as well as the seeds for all of those very beautiful dried beans like Jacob’s Cattle, Vermont Appaloosa, Black Coco, Calypso and on and on.

Territorial Seed Company from Oregon is similar to Johnny’s in the amount of plant seeds and information offered but the selection is different.

I love to look at the R.H. Shumway and Jung catalogues because of the old-type drawings illustrating the plants. Often I find an older or less used vegetable in one of these, like golden celery.

I was just given one of the most beautiful catalogues I have ever seen from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, based in Missouri. It is large and has great photos, many varieties and information on each variety and its history. I have not had a chance to actually read this one but am a little fearful as it is so tempting. Maybe it is a good thing that I do not have my home vegetable garden built yet!!

For plants, I like Annie’s Annuals from California. There are some unusual annuals available here that I haven’t seen in this area like white sage that is a beautiful plant and is, indeed, white, and used by my friend Jennifer to make tea.

Select Seeds has seeds (and some plants) of heirloom flowers. And while we have a vast selection of annuals and perennials available from plant stores and nurseries here, I still find things here and in other plant catalogues I do not find locally. This one has a good collection of poppies, cosmos and some great pinks (dianthus), one of my favorite flowers.

High Country Gardens from New Mexico specializes in plants for dry areas and since we should all be concerned with water conservation, I like to plant these types of plants. There are flowers, some trees and shrubs, ornamental grasses and grasses for lawns.  When looking for plants for my own garden, I go to this one as I have sandy soil and many plants in this catalogue are appropriate for these conditions.

For hard goods …tools, etc…I go to A. M. Leonard, if I cannot find the item locally. I use a lot of bamboo poles of several lengths in gardens and get them here. They have a huge selection of tools and supplies.

I hope you have your favorite catalogues by your reading chair and a list started. Those seed packets arriving in the mail are thrilling!!

For gardening discussion call Jeanelle Myers at 631-434-5067.

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