The Guide to Seed Catalogs

It’s the most wonderful time of year! Yes that’s right, it’s time to start making plans for your garden. It may be cold and gray and wintry outside right now, but with the help of a few seed catalogs, your world can soon be full of color again.

So how do you choose what to grow in your garden when the possibilities seem endless? Here are 6 tips to seed catalogs to help you decide.

1 – Know what you can grow

Not everything grows everywhere. Find out what plant hardiness zone you are in and learn what crops can grow in your area. Here in New Jersey, I’m in Zone 7.

2 – Grow what you like to eat

It seems obvious, but many newbie gardeners often overlook this and go for more exotic crops. Keeping a garden thriving in the heat of summer requires some motivation. That mojo can be hard to muster if you’re not dreaming of the delicious dishes you plan on creating with your harvest.

3 – Buy from a reputable seed source

Those seeds sitting in your local hardware store might be a few years old, leading to poor germination and a lackluster garden. If you do a quick search online for the best organic seed companies, you’ll find some great options. Here are a few we like:

Baker Heirloom Seeds

Burpee Seeds and Plants

Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Seed Savers Exchange

Seeds of Change

High Mowing Organic Seeds

Fedco Co-Op Seed Packers

4 – All varieties are not created equal

Take tomatoes, for example. Some varieties, especially heirlooms, can be the most delicious, but they can also be very hard to grow. They are more susceptible to disease and can crack and split very easily. Be honest with yourself. Are you willing to be give the time and attention an heirloom tomato may need or are you better off with an easier-to-grow hybrid? Read the seed catalog descriptions and talk to other local gardeners or farmers to see if they have any insight about what varieties will work well in your area.

5 – Assume a 20% loss

Inevitably, poor germination, disease or pests will likely take out about 20% of your crop. That’s okay, especially when you plan for it. Order enough seed to cover any issue that you may encounter.

6 – Learn the lingo

Organic, hybrid, treated, heirloom…what? It’s important to understand the terminology a seed company is using to describe their seeds. Make sure you find the companies definitions and understand what it is you are buying. No matter what seeds you choose, it’s important to remember, gardening is just as much art as it is science. No matter the outcome of your garden, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the land which you can use to improve your garden each year.

For more tips on tending your garden, check out some of our other posts:

Planting Guidelines

Seed Starting

Bees and your Garden

Happy Gardening!

Authored by Alfrea Farming expert, Julie



Leave a Reply