One of my favorite gardening related activities is browsing through the many seed catalogs that
come my way every year right after the holidays. Johnny’s Selected Seeds has been my “go to”
source for over twenty years. Rob Johnston and Janika Eckert, the founders of Johnny’s are
expert seed developers. They have some AAS winners among the many varieties they have
introduced to the gardening community. Some of my favorites are Kabocha squash, Yankee
Bell pepper, Diva cucumbers and Racer pumpkins. Of all the catalogs I do receive Johnny’s has
the best instructions about starting seeds, planting in the field and dealing with insects and
diseases. Johnny’s is also 150 miles north of my garden. My experience has been if they can
grow it at Johnny’s it will do just fine at my house.
For many years I resisted ordering from Burpee. After all, I was a “Johnny’s” man. I have
to admit that the good folks at Burpee put out a pretty good catalog with great photos and
well written descriptions. In the last five years I’ve become a fan and order at least a half
dozen packets of seeds every year. I especially love many of the tomato varieties they offer. Two of my favorites are Tangerine orange tomato and Red Lightening tomato. Also, Burpee has
the best deal on 4″ plastic plant labels, 50 for $4.75 and $3.95 for each additional package.
My one fault with the Burpee catalog is the lack of growing information accompanying each
The West Coast counterpart to Johnny’s is Territorial Seed Company in Cottage Grove,
Oregon. The information they provide about growing different vegetables is excellent.
Territorial’s growning tips about onions made a huge difference in the size and overall
yield of last year’s crop. In addition, I am a big fan of Territorial’s Complete Fertilizer,
especially for growing root crops. They have lots of tomato and pepper varieties to choose
from and do a very good job with leaf crops.
New to me this year was a catalog from Abundant Life Seeds. They are now affiliated with
Territorial Seed Company which is probably why I ended up on their mailing list. This is
an interesting company dedicated to the mission of preserving older seed varieties and
offering Organic, Biodynamic and sustainably grown seed to the public. They suffered through
a fire which nearly wiped out thirty five years of hard work. The company is now on their
feet again and offering a catalog full of interesting varieties. I bring this up because the arrival
of this catalog has reunited me with one of my favorite heirloom lettuce varieties of all time,
Sanguine Ameloire. I used to purchase seeds from Territorial. All of a sudden, this variety
disappeared. Now I know why. I’m thrilled to be able to grow this variety once again and
wish all the best to the hard working folks at Abundant Life Seeds.