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Kitchen Gardening

A Bumper Crop of Seed Catalogs

This year's seed catalogs are off the presses and headed your way. Before you place your orders, read our short reviews and post your comments.

  • From the Smithsonian Institution Libraries Collection of Seed Catalogs
  • The seed catalogs are coming, and we can't wait! Post a comment below and let us know your favorites.
    Photo/Illustration: Kate Frank
  • A turn-of-the-century poster by the Calvert Lithographing Co.
    Photo/Illustration: from the New York Public Library Digital Gallery

If you’ve been gardening for several seasons, you probably have your favorites: a core group of trusted varieties you grow year in and year out for their reliability and their flavor. I, for example, always grow Chioggia beets and Sun Gold tomatoes. But if I grew only those, gardening—and dining—it would get boring. There is always room in my garden for something else, something weird, something I’ve never tried before. That’s why I look forward every fall to the arrival of the seed catalogs.

2010 seed catalogs
  We’re reviewing seed catalogs as fast as we can. See more catalog reviews at FineGardening.com

Well before the mailbox fills up with holiday sales flyers and cards, the seed catalogs start to trickle in. I don’t have time to take a serious look until after Thanksgiving, when the leaves are off the lawn and the garden is put to bed. I’m in the habit of reading after supper, and the new seed catalogs, with their perfect photos and inspirational descriptions, are a treat to be savored, along with a cup of hot tea and a fire in the little woodstove.

For northern gardeners, winter is the dream season: no weeds, bugs, no blight, just visions of a perfect little vegetable patch. And the catalogs are the wish books. My current obsession is goji (wolfberry), the latest “superfood” from China. Do I really have room for another 10-foot-tall shrub? Do I really want to pick even more berries? These are the decisions we make in the cold season, when the garden is a blank slate and everything seems possible.

Here are links to our reviews of seed catalogs. Information will be added over the next several weeks. Please visit the pages and add your own comments. We’d love to hear about your experiences with these catalogs.

• The Growers Exchange NEW REVIEW
• Seeds from Italy NEW REVIEW
• Abundant Life Seeds NEW REVIEW
• Stark Bro’s NEW REVIEW
• Fisher’s Seeds NEW REVIEW
• Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply NEW REVIEW
• J. W. Jung Seed Company NEW REVIEW
• One Green World NEW REVIEW
• R.H. Shumway’s NEW REVIEW
• Territorial Seed Company NEW REVIEW
• Hudson Valley Seed Library NEW REVIEW
Fedco Trees NEW REVIEW
High Mowing Organic Seeds NEW REVIEW
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (reviewed by Chris McLaughlin)
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (reviewed by Jodi Torpey)
BBB Seed Company
Botanical Interests
• Comstock Seeds
Fedco Seeds
Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co.
J.L. Hudson, Seedsman
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
• Kitazawa Seed Company
• Lake Valley Seed
Park Seed Company
Pinetree Garden Seeds
Renee’s Garden Seeds
Seed Savers Exchange
Seeds of Change
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
• The Cooks Garden
• Tomato Growers Supply Company
Totally Tomatoes
• Willhite Seed Inc.

For links to articles, blog posts, and videos on starting vegetable and flower seeds, see All About Starting Seeds.

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