Image Credit: Biodiversity Heritage Library
Seed catalogs are one of the Gardeners favorite past times during the cold winter's months. Making wish lists from garden catalogs and dreaming of a bountiful spring and summer garden keeps hope alive.
I suppose it helps keep us warm as well during such dismal times to fill our minds with vibrant colors and reflecting on cherished moments in last years garden. Remembering how wonderful it feels to have the sunshine on your back and your hands in the dirt and life unfolding before your eyes.
In the south, we must make important decisions early in the year about the rotation of vegetable crops. Laying out plans, pulling out notes and getting ready to sow seeds during January in hot boxes, greenhouses and sunny window sills.
As the first seed catalogs come in the mail, it becomes important to begin inventory and organize all those leftover seed packets and jars of saved seeds. I like to categorize mine by season. It helps me to put them in order as a reminder of what is next to be planted.
It's so important for the success of your garden to select varieties that grow best in your garden zone. You can be selective in the same way about your garden catalogs as well by selecting ones that specialize in seeds for your area.
I'd like to share a few of my favorite garden seed catalogs with you. Although there are other favorites, I've not listed them all here. The point I am making and what I'm really wanting to share is how some garden seed companies have had a tremendous impact on saving precious heirloom varieties and use pure and natural growing methods.
Some have an enormous impact in countries around the world by showing hungry people how to grow more food on less land using organic and bio-intense methods. They are organic, they are heirloom and what they provide as well as their actions is what they are giving to the hope for future generations.
I choose three companies to show you what I look for in a garden seed Catalog and what makes them the best natural resources for a healthier food system and the best hope for a healthier future. Keep in mind that heirloom seeds can cost more in the initial investment, but because they are open pollinated, you can save seed from your stock and most likely not have the need to purchase those things a second time.
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. As heirloom varieties continue to decline, many lost forever we can count on this garden seed catalog. They pinpoint my growing region in Southeast Texas. Their logo and motto is “Saving the Past for the Future.” They practice diversity and believe in organics. They promote a non-GMO world and are part of the 270,000 farmers against the agribusiness giants “Monsanto”.
Their efforts are well worth supporting. They are very prompt with shipping and very reasonably priced. This is the first catalog in my mailbox to ring in the New Year.
Bakers Creek Heirloom Seeds. This is my ultimate favorite garden seed company. I would have to say that at least 75% of my garden stock seed comes from here. It is the most amazing catalog you will ever view.
The photography will literally make your mouth water for heirloom vegetables. This will most likely be the next catalog I receive in my mailbox. Their logo and motto is “Americas Top Source For Pure Heirloom Seeds” and they mean it and totally organic!! Maintaining purity is not an easy task in this day and age of the GMO seeds that cross-contaminate heirlooms.
Remaining organic is a feat of its own with major agribusinesses pouring the chemicals out on thousands of acres of land. You will also receive plenty of information about non-GMO's and how to support the effort. They also are major contributors in the plight against Big Ag and part of the lawsuit against Monsanto. They bring us hope. This year they launched the first ever Heirloom Expo in California. It was huge!!!
They have also launched their first Magazine that is Rich with information about heirloom varieties. This family of growers should be supported in every fashion. Even though they are based in Missouri, they carry such an assortment of seeds from all over the world. You will be sure to find many things just right for your region of the world. You will never be disappointed. Fast shipping and fair prices and a free pack of seeds with every order.
Bountiful Gardens. This company will not just supply you with heirloom seed varieties, but they will TEACH you everything you need to learn about growing a bio-intensive garden. A garden and farm that is not just organic, but totally sustainable. I study there website growbiointensive.org on a regular basis.
They are based in California and their logo and motto reads “Heirloom, Untreated, Open-Pollinated Seeds for Sustainable Growing.” They are a non-profit Project of Ecology Action and have a line of publications, videos and workshops to teach about the methods of growing bio-intensive. This is a company that can prove that the world can be fed and be sustainable using organic methods of growing food crops.
They reach over 130 different countries like Afghanistan and Kenya where they have teams working with the people helping them to learn to be sustainable. I order from them every chance I get. They have taught me how to incorporated grain crops into my garden as well as crops to increase my compost and mulch.
They are teaching me how to grow crops for calories so my family can be nourished and fed by what we grow without the reliance of a supermarket. Their prices and rates are far cheaper than any other heirloom company. Their catalog is down and dirty, plain and to the point.
I could keep going and name several more, but I just wanted to mention my top three that I order from every year. What I have written about each company are important factors for considering where and whom you purchase your garden seed. It is my hope that I've given you some guidelines to follow when considering a purchase.
Whether you use someone else or not, it is my hope that you will purchase your garden seeds going into the New Year of 2012 in ways that will have the greatest impact for a healthier effect on our environment and for the future our worlds food supply.
Have a Very Happy and Bountiful New Year!!