Seed Catalog Season

It’s a brisk 16 degrees here today, the perfect kind of day for staying inside with a pile of seed catalogs. I’ve been studying them all and making lists for the past two weeks. This weekend I got all my seeds organized and inventoried, narrowed down my shopping list, and placed my orders.

Here are a few of my favorite catalogs:  The Hudson Valley Seed Library‘s catalog is relatively small but they specialize in seeds that are adapted to growing conditions in the Northeast. If you become a member, you can save seed from your own crop and return it in the fall in exchange for credit toward next year’s membership. (But you don’t have to be a member to buy seeds.) Comstock, Ferre & Co. is the oldest seed company in New England, and also specializes in regionally adapted seeds. A couple of years ago the company was purchased by the owners of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, but I’m glad to see that Comstock has retained its own identity. Both catalogs have an amazing selection of seeds. Seed Saver’s Exchange is a non-profit dedicated to preserving heirloom seeds. They have a vast catalog of seeds for sale, but more import is their huge network of members who exchange rare heirloom seeds with each other. Landreth is the oldest seed house in the U.S. and is now struggling to stay in business.

One thing that struck me as I was making my final lists, was that each and every one of these catalogs offers at least a few varieties that the others don’t. I couldn’t have placed my entire order from one catalog if I wanted too. Even little Hudson Valley Seed Library, with their 200 or so varieties, sells a few that are absent from the encyclopedic catalogs. This is why I’d hate to see a company like Landreth go out of business. The seed industry is becoming increasingly consolidated, and as small seed companies disappear, so will some of the rarer heirloom varieties. So when you’re ordering your seeds this year, think about spreading the wealth around.

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