Seed Catalog Time!

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Thu, Feb 5, 2015 - 6:45pm

Where to consider shopping for seeds for this spring's garden.

Here are some of the tried and true places I place my orders for the seeds that I cannot save (yet), and some varieties I like. Not all of my seeds come from places like heirloom varieties from local farmers and gardeners. Please, please, enlighten us as to which items you've tried that worked well for your little corner of the world, and where you get your seeds.

I recommend finding the variety of seeds you want at multiple windows from different suppliers so you can compare the amount of seed for your money, and don't forget to factor in the cost of shipping! has coupon codes for a lot of them too, so never place an order without looking for the coupon code. 

In alphabetical order:

  • Amishland Heirloom Seeds. A lot of very, very rare seeds you will not find anywhere else. The woman who runs it literally lives across the street from an Amish farm and share seed with them that she raises on her property. A real find; really - wander around the website - it's like seed nirvana. I've tried their "greasy" green beans (greasy = smooth green beans, which cuts down on transpiration and makes them great for hot climates) beans that you can also dry and shell. You need to try their Amish Paste Tomatoes; you only get ten seeds but all of mine sprouted and the plants were terrific, easy to grow, and seeds were easy to store. I'm going to try their "purple podded pole bean" mix this year. One plus with Amishland is you always--always--get a little packet of unexpected seeds as a gift.
  • Johnny's Selected Seeds. They have a lot more but I think they are a great place for greens. Bear in mind that I like to grow loose leaf lettuces that can handle our brutal summer heat here in SC. I also like to grow varieties where can pluck a few leaves and let the rest of the plant produce. I usually have at least three varieties going at the same time. Johnny's Seeds' "Empress of India" nasturtium does really well under my tomatoes and the leaves are the best peppery salad greens you can imagine  (edible flowers, and did you know that if you pickle nasturtium flower buds in a simple brine, they taste exactly like capers?) I like their deer tongue, and their oak leaf (including a red oak leaf) lettuces, too. Some of their lettuces are "pelleted," which really help when working with teeny, tiny seeds. I also have gown their Coastal Star, Red Sails, Jericho (fave! really bolt-resistant) and Rouge D'Hiver.

When buying greens seeds, do not forget Swiss Chard (the rainbow "Bright Lights" is pretty enough to use in a flower bed) and kale (certain varieties are ornamental enough for an HOA to shut up and let you grow veggies in your front "flower" garden.) Let some of your heirloom lettuces go to seed but remember, they shed seeds over time. I find it best every few days to put a piece of fabric to collect seeds under the seeding lettuces and gently shake the seed stalk.

  • Mount Vernon Kitchen And Garden Heirloom Seeds. Yep, George Washington's home was turned into a museum, but did you know there is a huge heirloom garden as part of that, and that it sells seeds? Get their West Indian Burr Gherkins if you need cucumbers that are rabbit, deer and squash bug-proof, with easy seed saving.
  • Park Seed. I like Park Seed for hybrid tomatoes. I prefer heirloom seeds, but their Park's Whopper tomato is amazing, so I always put a few of those in, too. They also have really good Clemson Spineless okra (which sort of makes sense, since they are right next to Clemson University). They have rainbow radishes (globe variety) and a really nice cabbage seed mix so you can test a bunch of different cabbages at once and find a variety that works in your garden. And right now new subscribers to their website get a free shipping coupon.
  • Rare Seeds. I like their bunching onions, daikon radishes (edible greens!), parsnips (2 years for seeds, like carrots), and Pasilla Bajio peppers (ranges hot through sweet on the same long fruit! )
  •  Seed Savers has a wonderful Mangetout pea ("eat it all," in French - edible pods and leaves). I buy their Early Wakefield cabbage. Their Sylvetta arugula is that rare beast: a perennial lettuce. Gotta have it.
  • Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE). This place is the BEST source I have found for heirloom seeds.  I got most of my heirloom tomato varieties here until I got good at saving seeds.  You can get Kentucky Wonder pole green beans anywhere, but I've had great luck with their "Pencil Pod" wax bean, and their "Yard Long" pole beans beans (really, only a foot long - but huge). I've grown their celeriac (for it's tops), and carrots (usually Danvers or Scarlet Nantes). The celeriac is 4 years old and still making huge amounts of parsley-like leaves. I leave a few carrots to overwinter and keep growing, since they take two years to make seeds ( carrots flower like Queen Anne's lace; cut the dry umbels to store). Oh, and SESE's selection of hot & sweet peppers is fantastic. I make no secret that I use bell pepper seeds I save from supermarket peppers, but I've bought SESE banana peppers and corno di toro's (red, sweet Italian frying pepper), as well as hot banana peppers, jalapenos (fave). They also have very a nice, comprehensive selection of herb and medicinal herb seeds.

Unique to SESE: they offer different sized packages, so you can get a LOT more seed for just a little more money, which comes in handy when you want to trade with neighbors. I also like to have enough seed for two years, in case one year has the crop ruined for whatever reason (frost, hail, drought, heat). Most seeds will be 80% viable the year after you are supposed to plant them.



Tall's picture
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 18 2010
Posts: 564
Thanks Wendy!

I concur.


Also: Nichols garden nursery- the folks who developed and introduced elephant garlic:


and Kitazawa Seed Co. for hard to find Asian varieties:

Michael_Rudmin's picture
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Joined: Jun 25 2014
Posts: 919
And I like...

The seed catalog I like is

I like it primarily because their Jeavons book introduced me to biointensive gardening; however, I have also greatly enjoyed their "golden giant amaranth", their "rat's tail podding" (a radish whose fruit you eat, instead of the root), and especially their "seeds for kids" packets, a 50-cent packed mix of all kinds of edible, non-toxic seeds. 

If you want to get some new life and new variety into a garden, "seeds for kids" is great.  Just, you have to spend the time to pick out the seeds you want to start.  Beet varieties tend to be the little horned clusters... corn and beans are easily recognizable... so are squash and gourds, and so on.



Bytesmiths's picture
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Joined: Apr 28 2008
Posts: 221
Unusual varieties, food perennials, and medicinal herbs

One of my favorites is Horizon Herbs, in Douglas, Oregon. Got an order in just the other day. Looking forward to planting 400 Paulonia tomentosa (Empress) trees!

Yoxa's picture
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Joined: Dec 21 2011
Posts: 306
Manitoba varieties

Some places I've shopped:

Boughen Nurseries, of Valley River, Manitoba. Mostly plants rather than seeds, lots of varieties that are hardy on the Canadian prairies.

Also worth a look for prairie gardeners:

Lindenberg Seeds, Brandon, Manitoba: - since 1935

Patmore Nursery, Brandon, Manitoba:


Yoxa's picture
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Joined: Dec 21 2011
Posts: 306
Manitoba varieties


rayne's picture
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Joined: May 29 2012
Posts: 33
Territorial is great!  Going

Territorial is great!  Going to try Rare Seeds this year. Their catalog is beautiful!  

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