Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Ordering Seeds

Like many gardeners, each winter I eagerly anticipate perusing the new pile of catalogs and putting together this year’s seed orders. And I have my favorites. I’ve come to depend on the Totally Tomatoes catalog, for instance, for the majority of tomato varieties I order each year, and I’ve been impressed by new peppers they’ve convinced me to try as well. Their format is no-nonsense with nice color photos. The seed is reasonably priced, generously counted and always germinates. If you place your order ($5 or more) with them by March 15 of this year, they’ll also send you two free seed packets to trial.

I’ve planted many seeds from Renee’s Garden in recent years and am always impressed by their excellent varieties—including: ‘Italian Silver Rib Chard,’ a sturdy heirloom with superior flavor that even without a greenhouse, I harvested past Thanksgiving, the outstanding Broccoli Raab, ‘Super Rapini,’ the container eggplant, ‘Little Prince,’ a selection both cute and productive. Renee’s seed packages aren’t just pretty– they provide more specifics than packets usually do, so when you’re standing with seeds in one hand and can’t recall the precise planting distance—as long as you can reach the packet with the other—you’re fine. Renee’s website is also exceptionally easy to use– perfect for gardeners new to vegetables.

I rely on Territorial Seeds for greens like Mustard ‘Green Wave’ and heirloom Kale ‘Nero Di Toscana’—as well as peas, both sugar snap –‘Sugar Star,’ and shelling, ‘Dakota.’ They also offer a lot of flowers and accessories you may find as alluring as I sometimes do. I’ve been a relatively recent convert to John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds. Their seed packets can seem pricey until you do the math and take seed counts into consideration. That both catalog and seed packets are graced by the lovely watercolor illustrations of Bobbie Angell is a definite plus. I’m particularly impressed by their selection of Asian greens and lettuces this year –yes, I do plant a lot of greens in the garden—and I’m looking forward to the ‘Really Red Deer-Tongue Butterhead’ as well as ‘Flashy Troutback’.

It’s all too easy, in our anxiousness to begin the season, to rush headlong into planting seeds too early indoors. I’m preparing to seed parsley and sweet peas this week, two that take awhile and then go out into cool weather before Memorial Day. Despite very confusing signals outdoors, try to wait on those peppers and tomatoes until later this month.