Seed catalogs

Jeff's Seed catalog recommendations for Alaskans ( and other gardeners, too!)

Jeff Lowenfels' Teaming with Microbes 


Jeff's Recommendations

Yipee! It is catalog time. For the next few weeks I will explore this essential part of gardening and pass on suggestions that should be helpful to you in locating plants, seeds and tools of our trade. These are also good sources of cultural information that should pick up tips on plant care and even nudge you into starting a few things from seeds.
As is my tradition, this week will list the “must have” catalogs for Alaskan gardeners. I’ve made a few additions to the list, but for the most part, loyal readers will recognize this week’s listings. What continues to change is the way we get catalogs. Many still have “hard copies, but several seed companies now only list their wares on the internet.

 Territorial Seed Company
Run by two of the nicest people in the business and based in Cottage Grove, , over the years Territorial has become one of the most popular seed companies in the country. Many commercial growers in Alaska use their seed and there is no reason you shouldn’t as well. There are always new varieties of our old favorites (as well as the old favorites).

 Nichols Nursery,
Located in Albany, Oregon, this is a family business run by the second generation, specifically RoseMarie Nichols McGee who also happens to be the co-author of the best container gardening book on the market, The Bountiful Gardener. Not only is RoseMarie a good friend and wonderful writer, she pays a great deal of attention to the catalog’s selections so you can be sure you are getting the best that is available, new and old varieties included. The seeds are organically grown. 

 Thompson and Morgan
is a huge English seed company with a big catalog, as in many, many selections and almost as many pictures. This is one catalog you should get in the mail, not only because there are too many selections to look at on a screen, but because this “book” is the best way I know of to learn the names of flowers.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds
is THE cold climate or short season catalog. While it now has a nice selection of flower seeds, Alaskan gardeners should concentrate on the vegetable selections.   

 Renee’s Garden
is my favorite source for sweat peas. In fact, there are too many from which to choose. Owned by Renee Shepard, another good friend and garden writer, you will find other great flower and vegetable offerings, many heirloom and gourmet.

Stokes Seeds,
is a Canadian company that sells in the U.S. When I didn’t include Stokes in a previous year’s column, I get more mail than normal. This catalog has lots of selections for our short season and great cultural instructions.

Ed Hume Seeds
is a Washington State-based company run by yet another good friend and fellow garden writer. While there is no mail catalog, there is a very interesting “digital seed rack” available to those who have high speed connections. Ed has a summer home in “southern” Alaska and pays a lot of attention to our unique needs.

The Cook’s Garden

is known as a specialty seed company. It features 50 varieties or so of lettuces, for example, and lots of other vegetables and herbs. Theirs is a great website well worth visiting.
Request their catalog from a link on the left at the web site.       

Burpee Seeds.
With good pictures and excellent cultural instructions, Burpee Seeds is one of the old seed companies that Amerian gardeners have relied on for more than a century. The company has gone through lots of changes in the past few years, but these don’t detract from the catalog, online or mail order.

So, there you have a bunch of “must have” or in the case of on line “must see” catalogs for Alaskans. Next week, I will pass on some specialty catalogs.

Close To Infinity
The Brunton MacroScope is both a revolution and a revelation in optical instruments. With its innovative and unique side-mounted focus wheel you can now view all the way from infinity to an unbelievably close 18 inches and everything in between. There is simply nothing else like the Brunton MacroScope on the market!    

"You haven't really seen Nature until you've looked through this."