Tag Archives: organic gardening

Seed Catalogs A-Go-Go

They start showing up right after the solstice. Taunting me with full-color photos of prize tomatoes; fantastic dahlias; and firm, bulbous garlic heads. I’m talking about seed catalogs—every gardener’s weakness.

There are dozens of seed companies in the United States. Some focus on vegetables, some specialize in flower bulbs, some offer bare-root trees and bushes. Some just grow mushrooms, some just garlic! Below is as comprehensive list as I could muster.

I tend to buy from the companies that have their test gardens in my same region and growing zone. That way, if something works well in their garden it should also work well in mine! I usually order from Territorial Seed Company, and when I was in the Gorge I also liked Irish Eyes, based in Ellensburg, Washington—their climate was closer to mine than temperate Roseburg, Oregon.

The internet is full of videos that show you how to plant starts, space your plants out, and anything else having to do with gardening. There are also a number of garden-planning software packages appearing. I rely on gardening to keep me away from my computer, so I will never use anything but a pencil and sheet of graph paper to plan my garden beds. But some people find it helpful to be reminded when to plant what and so on. And having a computerized record does make it easier to track plantings and yields from year to year.

I would be remiss to talk about gardening without putting in a plug for saving seeds. You can use them the following year, or trade some with a friend for seeds you don’t have. This only works with “heirloom” varieties, i.e. plants that aren’t hybrids. Hybrids are crosses of two different types of plant to emphasize one or more traits over others (big fruits; sturdy stalks, etc.). They are great, but the seeds their fruits produce will not grow another hybrid plant. So, you have to keep buying more seeds.

Some large corporations have taken this marketing basis one step further and try to prosecute farmers who save their seed from a “trademarked” crop, or even who are affected by cross-pollination they don’t want! This mostly affects commodity farmers of corn, soybeans and rapeseed (canola), not food farmers.

Those interested in heirloom seed-saving and -trading should check out the Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa, Native Seeds/SEARCH in Arizona, Conserving Arkansas’ Agricultural Heritage, Organic Seed Alliance in Washington, International Seed Saving Institute in Arizona, Hudson Valley Seed Library in New York, and the National Gardening Association.

Many nurseries and gardening companies sell tools and resources as well as seeds—if you don’t see Get Your Pitchfork On! in your favorite catalog or store, please ask them to carry it.

Garden Seed Companies by State

Alabama

The Tasteful Garden

Universal Seed & Supply

Alaska

Denali Seed Company

Arizona

Aravaipa Heirlooms

D.P. Seeds

Terroir Seeds

Arkansas

Food Bank of North Central Arkansas

California

Bountiful Gardens

Gary Ibsen’s TomatoFest

Evergreen Seeds

Kitazawa Seed Company

Mountain Valley Growers 

Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply

Renee’s Garden

Seeds of Change

Colorado

Arkansas Valley Seed

Botanical Interests

Potato Garden

Connecticut

John Scheeper’s Kitchen Seeds

New England See Company

White Flower Farm

Delaware

Delaware Seed & Garden

Florida

Eden Organic Nursery Services

Florida Backyard Vegetable Gardener

The Pepper Gal

Tomato Growers Supply Company

Georgia

Adams-Briscoe Seed Company

Eden Brothers

Hawai`i

AgroForestry

Seeds Hawai`i

Illinois

Burgess Seed & Plant Company

Indiana

The Chile Woman

Garden Harvest Supply

Gurney’s Seed & Nursery

Nature’s Crossroads

Iowa

Earl May Nursery & Garden Center

Sand Hill Preservation Center

Kansas

El Dorado Heirloom Seeds

Skyfire Garden Seeds

Kentucky

Ferry-Morse

Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center

Louisiana

South Louisiana Seed Company

Maine

FEDCO Seeds

Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Pinetree Garden Seeds

Maryland

Reimer Seeds

Massachusetts

Organica Seed

Michigan

Annie’s Heirloom Seeds

Marianna’s Heirlooms

Nature and Nurture Seeds

Siegers Seed Company

Minnesota

Albert Lea Seed

Prairie Moon Nursery

Missouri

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Heirloom Acres Seeds

Stark Brothers

Montana

Fisher’s Seeds

New Hampshire

Valentine & Sons Seed Company

New Mexico

High Country Gardens

Plants of the Southwest

New York

Harris Seeds

Miller Nurseries

Stokes Seeds

North Carolina

Clifton Seed Company

Sow True Seed

North Dakota

Agassiz Seed & Supply

Ohio

Baker’s Acres Greenhouse

Ohio Heirloom Seeds

Oklahoma

Clear Creek Seeds

Oregon

Nichols Garden Nursery

Silver Falls Seed Company

Siskiyou Seeds

Territorial Seed Company

Victory Seed Company

Wild Garden Seed

Pennsylvania

Amishland Heirloom Seed

D. Landreth Seed Company

Heirloom Seeds

Rohrer Seeds

W. Atlee Burpee & Co.

South Carolina

Park Seed Company

Penny’s Tomatoes

Pepper Joe

Seeds for the South

South Carolina Crop Improvement Assoc.

Twilley Seed

Tennessee

New Hope Seed Company

Texas

The Herb Cottage

Utah

Anderson’s Seed & Garden

Generic Seeds

Hometown Seeds

Vermont

High Mowing Organic Seeds

Vermont Bean Seed Company

Virginia

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Washington

Backyard Heirloom Seeds & Herbs

Filaree Garlic Farm

Good Seed Company

Irish Eyes Garden Seeds

Osborne Seed Company

Uprising Seeds

Wisconsin

J.W. Jung Seed Company

R.H. Shumway

Totally Tomatoes

Wyoming

Wind River Seed

Here’s a few more, for mushrooms:

Back to the Roots, California

Gourmet Mushroom Products, California

Mushroom Adventures, California

Southeast Mushroom, Florida

Fungi Perfecti, Washington

And for garlic:

Garlic World, California

Charlie’s Gourmet Garlic, Ohio

Hood River Garlic, Oregon

Green Mountain Garlic, Vermont

Mushroom kits and garlic bulbs are offered by many of the seed companies as well. If you have others to recommend, please share them in the comments section. Happy Gardening!

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Organic Gardening: Not the Hippie Lovefest It’s Made Out to Be

I don’t want to start bashing any particular farming resource—they are all valuable! However, this article from Urban Farm is an example of the thing that drives me crazy about most rural-living reference material. In their mania to sell copies, the publishers sell hope by making farming seem natural and effortless.

In this piece, the author grows broccoli. Awesome. Broccoli is indeed a great over-wintering plant. However, it is also a favorite of aphids. Organic food-growers love to downplay the threat that pests can pose to a garden. Just spray a little soapy water on the aphids, and they’ll disappear! So easy! Go play with your children!

Guess what: “a misting of insecticidal soap on the morning of a sunny day” is not going to cut it. Firstly, the aphids I’ve dealt with are not so stupid as to hang out on the topside of a leaf, where they’ll get dried out by the sun, eaten by birds and noticed by you. They congregate on the undersides.

Secondly, they reproduce faster than rabbits. In fact, rabbits could learn a thing or two from aphids, whose females can reproduce asexually, as many as twelve times a day! Before I took aphids seriously, I would give my brassicas (the family of plants that includes broccoli and also collard greens, Brussels sprouts, etc.) a cursory glance, not see any trouble, and move on. Then, I turned a leaf over … and gaped. There were thousands of them, green so they blended in. Clever little things.

I had read in some book or article to “wash aphids off with a garden hose,” so I tried it. I got some, but most just dug in their mouthparts and refused to budge. I think I heard them giggling. Insecticidal soap (part vegetable oil, part dish soap, mostly water) was slightly more effective because it sticks to them and desiccates their soft bodies. The best means of killing them was to smash/smear them all with my thumbs, but this took a long time. All of it made a mess of the poor plant.

So, what to do? The best thing is to catch them early. I resigned myself to harvesting warped, half-eaten broccoli spears and Brussels sprouts. Maybe you’ll do better! Share your struggles and successes in the comments field—but no false organic happy happy joy joy, please …

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