Heirloom Seed Catalog Browsing

March 7, 2007

With nothing but cold and more snow awaiting me outside, I’ve finally gotten around to enjoying one of my favorite indoor gardening activities…

Browsing through all of the latest and greatest heirloom and gourmet seed catalogs that have been delivered right to my mailbox.

Don’t Delay Ordering Your Heirloom Seeds

I usually recommend shopping for seeds by mail or over the Internet and ordering early, but this year I’m a little behind myself. Fortunately there’s still time and hopefully I won’t wind up disappointed by discovering that the seed varieties I wanted to order have all been sold out.

Dwindling supplies and lack of availability are some of the risks of procrastinating with that seed catalog order, especially if you’re in the market for heirloom, gourmet, and other unique or rare seeds. I’m learning that lesson right now with the Ozette fingerling potato seed that I wanted to plant but just discovered is out of stock at my usual supplier.

Another problem with delaying those seed orders is that the closer we get to spring, the busier the seed suppliers will become, and you may find that the timeframe for order processing and delivery can stretch from a matter of days to several weeks.

No one wants to be sitting around in May waiting for seeds of cool weather crops that could and should have been planted during April or March. The point I’m trying to get across is don’t put off placing those seed orders any longer if you want to be prepared for the upcoming growing season.

Favorite Heirloom Seed Catalogs

Heirloom Seed CatalogsI’m choosy about seeds and love to grow heirlooms and ornamental edible varieties of plants. This year I’m sorting through a stack of heirloom seed catalogs that’s over a foot high. Most of the catalogs are from specialty seed suppliers that are familiar acquaintances from whom I’ve ordered for many years.

But there are a couple of new and interesting seed catalogs that I’m browsing for the first time this winter. One of these new additions is Fedco Seeds. I had heard of Fedco before, but had never ordered from them until this year.

While I wouldn’t classify Fedco as primarily an heirloom seed supplier, they do offer many heirlooms and unique seed selections that aren’t common elsewhere. For example they list a special gene line of leafy greens that were developed at Even Star Farms in Maryland, and are bred to perform under bitterly cold growing conditions.

An extensive list of my favorite heirloom seed catalogs is included on the Gardening Secrets Resource Webpage. Complete access to this exclusive resource page is included as a free bonus with every purchase of my vegetable gardening e-book.

New Heirloom Vegetable Varieties

It may seem like a contradiction to use the words “new” and “heirloom” together, but you can stumble upon new heirlooms. Yes, the term “heirloom” does imply that it’s been around for a while, but sometimes heirlooms are rediscovered, passed around among seed savers, or are just now being promoted and distributed commercially.

Anyway, there are a few “new” heirloom and gourmet type vegetable seed varieties that I’m looking forward to growing this spring. Some, like Purple Peacock Broccoli have been on my radar for a while, but I hadn’t been able to locate and obtain seeds until recently.

Others such as the Even Star Farms line of Ice Bred Arugula, freeze hardy Collards, and Land-Race Tatsoi, are relatively recent introductions of open pollinated seeds that were developed as the result of trials and selective breeding of specific gene lines. Thank God for the farmers and home gardeners that have the dedication and patience necessary for such breeding and seed developmental work.

Also new to my list of plants to grow are a few uncommon cultivars such as Skirret, which I’ve never had enough interest or space to fit into the garden until this season. Over the next week or so I’ll be posting more information about the new heirloom and gourmet seed varieties that catch my eye this winter and will probably show up in my garden, and maybe even your own, this coming spring.

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  • Thanks for the making me think about heirloom seed company reviews. I hadn’t thought about this as a subset of gardening mags aside from the major seed providers. I’m going to definitely check out Fedco next year.

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  • Claudia Clark

    I am looking for ground cherry plants and/or seeds. Someone I know wants to make ground cherry pie, but doesn’t know where to locate the plant/seeds. I didn’t see a section to search for a specific product… only to order a seed catalog. Didn’t want to get the catalog if it doesn’t have what I’m looking for in it anyway. Thanks for any info on this matter. Claudia Clark

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Claudia, most of the heirloom seed companies also maintain websites with an inventory of all the seed varieties that they sell through their catalog. Nichols Garden Nursery carries seeds for a plant called “Ground Cherry Husk Tomato” if that is the variety that you are looking for.

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