It used to be that the new vegetable seed catalogs would start to show up in my mailbox sometime after New Years. Well times have changed and guess what arrived in my mailbox right around Thanksgiving? Yep, the first new vegetable seed catalog of the year.
Not that I’m complaining… I’ll confess to actually reading through a vegetable seed catalog as if it was a favorite magazine subscription. What else is a frustrated gardener to do during the cold sometimes snowy days of a long northern winter?
What Gardener Doesn’t Treasure a Good Seed Catalog?
And don’t act like I’m the only one around that collects seed catalogs or gets excited by the sight of a new one in the mail. I only wish I had held on to some of the classic old seed catalogs that were produced by pioneering companies like Seeds Blum that helped to spark my interest in growing heirlooms in the vegetable garden.
More than just sales brochures, some of the old garden seed catalogs were informative, entertaining, and hand crafted by people such as Jan Blum that had a passion for growing rare and unusual edible plants. And while the catalogs may have been printed in black and white, with simple illustrations instead of high resolution photos, they still qualified as artwork in my book.
A Study in Gardening and Plant Variety
After all you can learn an awful lot about gardening and the incredible diversity of plants by browsing through the pages of even an out-of-date veggie seed catalog. And it’s always interesting to discover what is rare and in some unfortunate cases has been lost in the way of seed variety.
Every year there are also a number of newly bred or released seeds listed for the home gardener. True, you can’t believe everything that you read or even see in a seed catalog! The ultimate goal of the seed supplier is to sell their seeds, but most do a respectable job of representing their plants and seed varieties, even if they are patented, hybridized, or otherwise restricted and controlled.
Personally, I try my best to stick with the heirloom and open pollinated seed varieties that can be saved and shared freely by any gardener. I also try to support those seed companies that feature unique and old fashioned varieties of fruits and vegetables, especially those plants that are bred for the backyard garden more so than for commercial growers.
And the First Seed Catalog to Arrive Is…
I admit that it’s still a bit early for me to dive into a stack of heirloom seed catalogs so they’ll be reserved for a quiet period during January or February, a little closer to the time when I can begin to anticipate and plan planting seeds for a new growing season.
The distinction of delivering the first seed catalog goes out to the Vermont Bean Seed Company. I think they are a good seed supplier, but one that I haven’t ordered any seed through in the past few years. They have kept me on their mailing list and I still enjoy browsing through their 60+ page seed catalog.
Despite the emphasis on “Bean Seeds” in the company’s name, the Vermont Bean Seed Company offers a variety of vegetable seeds in addition to their large selection of various bean seeds.
Not far behind were catalogs from Pinetree Garden Seeds, Fedco, and the heirloom seed catalog that is published by the Seed Savers Organization. Between now and the end of winter the mailman is sure to get a workout dropping of one issue after another of the latest vegetable seed catalogs from my favorite heirloom seed suppliers.
Mark Your Calendars for the 2008 PASA Conference
Also showing up in my mailbox during November was the new brochure for the upcoming Pennsylvania Sustainable Agriculture Conference that will take place on February 6 – 10, 2008. Looks like another great event is in the works and you can find out more by visiting their website at www.PASA.org.
I’m looking forward to attending the conference and also receiving a stack of heirloom vegetable seed catalogs to help ease the wait until I can get back out into the garden! If you’re not already on their mailing lists, then now is the time to seek out a few good heirloom seed suppliers and request a copy of their catalogs to enjoy indoors during these cold winter days.
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