Bringing in the 2008 Veggie Seed Catalogs

December 31, 2007

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?

pinetree garden seeds catal.thumbnail Bringing in the 2008 Veggie Seed CatalogsAnd 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can learn an awful lot about gardening and the incredible diversity of plants by browsing through the pages of even an out-of-date veggie seed catalog.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.

vermont bean seed company c.thumbnail Bringing in the 2008 Veggie Seed CatalogsThe 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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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

salinya January 2, 2008 at 12:46 am

I’ll be there! :)

lisa January 3, 2008 at 6:21 pm

Hi! I like your blog, and I got catalogs earlier than usual this year, too. If you like heirloom and odd veggies, you may like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I got my first catalog this year, so I have no ordering experience, but the variety is outstanding! A lot of places say they have rare and heirloom stuff, but these folks have the most I’ve ever seen. Happy shopping!

Jeremy Dore January 4, 2008 at 12:06 pm

Hi,
I agree that heirloom and open-pollinated varieties are good to use. This year I’m switching to a seed company that even actively encourages seed-saving. I’ve blogged about it here:
http://www.growveg.com/growblogpost.aspx?id=14 and will be posting the results on my blog in the coming months. It’s really good to find a seed company that are looking out for the gardener’s interests, not just their bottom line.

Ingrid January 10, 2008 at 8:16 pm

Hi Kenny and Happy New Year! I thought to stop by your site and look up any information and tips on cilantro and got distracted with this post. I’m going to request all the catalogs you mentioned here. Hope you are doing well. Thanks for the write-up.

Ken C January 11, 2008 at 11:27 pm

I like tree seeds myself, but regardless of the plant it is always exciting to find and plan for a new addition to the garden. Especially in the dead of winter when there is plenty of time to think about improving or taking on a new challenge for the next season.

Ottawa Gardener January 20, 2008 at 9:24 pm

I admit it. I love receiving seed catalogues and like what you said, I have learned a lot from browsing through them even if I have never ordered seed from them. Some of the more agricultural ones have taught me in specific details what the bolting tolerances of plants are etc…

Kate February 20, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Nice blog ! Like most of us I love getting catalogs offering up their newest plants and seeds. I could spend hours and hours looking at them.

Kenny Point February 21, 2008 at 9:47 am

Thanks Kate, Lisa, Ken, and Ingrid, I’m still going through my stack of heirloom veggie seed catalogs and still haven’t finished ordering all of my seeds yet! Salinya, did you make it to the PASA conference this year? Jeremy, it is great to have some seed companies that recognize the importance of preserving the seed pool and that aren’t just out to lay claims on some new plant that they can “claim” to have created! Ottawa, you are right and some of the seed catalogs are really great gardening resources.

Robin May 31, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Hi Kenny. I just discovered your blog-spot, and it is a definite WOW. What energy, love and care! I’m a backyard gardener from the San Francisco Bay Area, and a tech writer (when there is work). Yesterday, I had a thought about writing a book about odd-colored veggies and fruits. I got side-tracked on Amazon searching for other things, and noticed their seeds, and the oddities. So, on my B-day, I spent hours looking for articles on odd veggie colors: black watermelons from Japan, red cucumbers from Malaysia, etc. I haven’t found a book yet that addresses this issue, nor have I gotten to the point of finding seed companies that sell this assortment. Have you written about the oddities? Have a suggestion? Much appreciated, and thank you, thank you for a wonderful read. Your site is awesome.

Kenny Point June 1, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Hi Robin, thanks for stopping by and for the kind comments. I try to feature heirlooms and other unusual edible plant varieties here as often as possible. There are also many heirloom seed catalogs such as Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and organizations such as the Seed Savers Exchange that offer lots of information and sources for odd vegetables and fruits for the home garden.

maja July 12, 2009 at 10:24 am

i have got this catalog, nice.

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