Around this time each year, the seed catalogs start showing up in the mail bursting with colorful photos of wonderful plants to grow from seed. To help sort through the choices, I have picked my top 3 seed catalogs and the reasons for my choices.
I have used seeds from other companies and have had good success. I believe these 3 companies give the most choices to the gardener who is mindful of the source of the seed and its purity. No matter which seed you choose, it is important to read about the company you are buying from and ascertain what their practices are and how they are breeding their seeds. Seed doesn’t have to be organic to be of high quality. Actually some other maybe more important qualities include: is it Non-GMO?, is it treated?
The most important thing is that you are selecting the seed that is the most aligned with your values. I love all 3 of these companies because they give you full disclosure of their seed source so that you may make an informed decision.
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Coming in at number 1 is Johnny’s Seeds. I have used their seeds for years, and I am always pleased with the results. They are an employee-owned company located in Maine, specializing in developing new varieties using traditional, pain-staking methods of natural crossing to create hybrid seeds that are healthy and safe. Their catalog holds over 3000 items with the best tool and growing supplies section of any catalog. Seeds are Non-GMO and there is a good selection of organic and heirloom options. Johnny’s has an extensive selection of lettuce and leafy greens. There are excellent tutorials and growing advice in the catalog and online. Some drawbacks include higher pricing than most seeds and seeds are not available at retail locations. Some seeds are treated as well, so it is important to read the descriptions before buying.
2. Botanical Interests
My second choice is Botanical Interests out of Colorado. I have been using more of their seeds lately and love the fact that they are available at retail locations. This is a family owned company with untreated, Non-GMO seeds. They have over 600 seed varieties with lots of heirloom and organic options at very reasonable prices. My favorite thing about the seed is its high germination rate in the first year and the fact that it germinates in years 2 and 3 as well. If you don’t use an entire package in one year, it is worth it to hold on to these seeds and plant them again the following year. The seed packets have great illustrations and plant descriptions, and inside the packet there are recipes, growing and harvesting tips, seedling drawings and more.
3. Seed Savers Exchange
My third and final choice is Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa. This is a unique company in that it is a non-profit organization devoted to protecting heirloom seeds. Seeds are Non-GMO, untreated and non-hybrid with organic options. There are 600 varieties available to non-members or if you become a member, you have access to 23,000 varieties of heirloom seeds. The website has plenty of seed saving tips and resources. My experience with these seeds has been positive, and they are available at some retail locations.