If you have been gardening for a while, you probably like to start your own plants. It’s a way to get just the plants you want and when you want them. Often, plants are shipped to stores are too early or they don’t have the variety you like the best. Gardeners can be a bit nuts when it comes to a specific variety of tomato for instance.  That is why the pile of seed catalogs is getting shabby from being paged through so often. The problem is which company should you order from. Beth Jarvis, who you can find on the U of M Yard and Garden Line suggests you check Dave’s Garden Watchdog site on davesgarden.com/ged. Here you can read about other gardeners’ experience with various mail-order companies. Dave’s gives scores and tells you which ones to avoid. Here are some that do check out and their specialties.

Territorial Seeds, territorial-seed.com. is a source of short-season seeds. They sell to people in the Rockies and similar microclimates, so their seeds will do well here.

Jonny’s Selected Garden Seeds at jonnyseeds.com is a favorite of many gardeners.

Another is Park’s at parkseed.com. If you have a smaller garden, most packets have way too much seed. Pinetree Garden Seeds, superseeds.com is the place for you to shop. They ship small packets of seeds for a very reasonable price.

Jung Seeds, jungseed.com a Wisconsin company, has seeds that are grown for us Northern gardeners. It’s fun paging through their catalog as they have all sorts of exotic fruit trees and shrubs, most that aren’t Zone 3 or 4. Doesn’t hurt to look even though it may give you zone envy.

Totally Tomatoes, totallytomato.com has more tomatoes than you have ever heard of.  They are well rated for their seeds but don’t bother to order plants from them as they don’t fare as well.

John Scheepers Kitchen garden Seeds, kitchengardenseeds.com sell garlic, onions, seed potatoes and lots of other vegetable seeds from a very pretty website. It looks a lot like the website of Renee’s Garden, reneesgarden.com, as they both use line drawings.  Renee’s publishes only an online catalog. It has a very high customer rating.

If you are looking for herbs and rare seeds look for Nichol’s Garden Nursery at nicholsgardennursery.com or Richters Herbs at richters.com.  Beth prefers the catalog to the website, but you can always plan with the catalog then order online. 

If you prefer organically grown seed, Seed Of Change, seedsofchange.com is the one for you.

Select Seeds, selectseeds.com sells old-fashions heirloom flower seeds.

Seed Savors Exchange of Decorah Iowa, seedsavors.org is a source of open-pollinated heirloom vegetables. You may be able to find their seed racks at co-ops and other places in Minnesota.

This is only a partial list of seed companies with catalogs available to you. Do look at the address of any catalog you are thinking of ordering from. It should be from the upper ¼ of the country as seeds from Southern sources may take too long to ripen here in the frozen North. Look for no more than 120 days to ripen and that may be pushing the limits some years.  Start planting..


Bev Johnson is a Master Gardener with the University of Minnesota Extension. Her column appears in the Weekend Edition.


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