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Start Imagining Your Garden

My six favorite catalogs for dreaming and ordering

Seed catalogs begin arriving in my mailbox with the new year. Is there a benefit in ordering from catalogs? Or is it just as good to buy seeds locally?
    The variety of seeds at garden centers, hardware stores and some grocery stores is rather limited. Some like to tell customers that the seeds were especially selected for our area. It has been my experience that many seeds sold locally are chosen to provide dependable varieties that have survived the test of time.
    But if you, like me, look forward to trying new and improved varieties, then you will need to dive into ordering from seed catalogs. Just looking at some of those pictures and reading descriptions will make your mouth water.
    Over the years I have accumulated a number of seed catalogs and have ordered from most of them. However, I return to six catalogs year after year because they offer a wide range and yearly introductions of new varieties of vegetables and flowers.
    Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Winslow, Maine: Excellent photographs and descriptions of each crop; straightforward codes make ordering easy: www.johnnyseeds.com.
    Harris Seeds, Rochester, New York: Carries mostly time-tested varieties that are grown commercially and are  typically reliable; easy catalog to order from: www.harrisseeds.com.
    Thompson & Morgan, Lawrenceburg, Indiana: Excellent photographs and descriptions make you wish spring were tomorrow. Offers the biggest selection of species and cultivars at the most reasonable prices: www.tmseeds.com.
    J.W. Jung Seed Co., Randolph, Wisconsin: Includes woody ornamentals and herbaceous perennials as well as fruits, flowers and vegetables: www.jungseed.com.
    W. Atlee Burpee & Co., Warminster, Pennsylvania: Probably the most mouth-watering seed catalog; if you don’t have an urge for gardening after cruising through the Burpee catalog, you need not spade the garden or purchase seeds. Outstanding photographs and descriptions tempt you to purchase seeds of each variety. Specializing in vegetables, annual flowers and perennials. www.burpee.com.
    Territorial Seed Co., Cottage Grove, Oregon: Some of the most unusual varieties of seeds for vegetables, annual flowers and small fruits; also grafted tomato plants, claimed to out-produce plants grown from seeds: www.territorialseed.com.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.