Shep's Seed Catalog List

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Post  Shep on Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:47 am

Garden Seed Catalogs

The seed catalogs listed below represent the major sources where Shepherd’s Valley purchases most of our garden vegetable seeds. You may click on the web links and request a catalog to be mailed to you, and we would suggest you have hard copies of each catalog to browse and compare. However, beware, after seeing all the color enhanced photos and discovering how many varieties are “out there” - you’ll want a bigger garden plot!

Johnny's Seeds
provides the most comprehensive information about vegetable seed types, planting instructions, days to maturity, and projected yields. We use their catalog the most to help with garden planning, particularly the introductory section at the beginning of each seed type, but shop the others for better prices.

Baker Creek Heirloom
Heirloom Acres
Morgan County Seeds
Seed Savers Exchange
Seeds of Change
High Mowing Seeds:
Territorial Seed
Totally Tomatoes
Vermont Bean

Heirloom Acres and Morgan County Seeds usually have the better prices, but not as varied a selection. Use the seed descriptions and photographs in the other catalogs to help you decide which ones you want, then go back and check the availability and price of your variety of choice with these two.

Fedco, Seeds of Change, Johnny’s, and Morgan County Seeds cater to commercial growers as well as the home gardener, and have bulk prices for many seeds. Fedco, Morgan County Seeds, and Heirloom Acres have almost no photographs, and their catalogs are printed in black and white. These seed companies have lower overhead and correspondingly lower retail costs for their customers.

Hybrids vs. Heirlooms: In the seed catalogs; hybrids are generally designated with the word “hybrid” in the name or (F1) in the description. Heirlooms may use the word “heirloom” or (OP) open pollinated. By definition, all heirlooms are open pollinated. The advantage of buying heirlooms is that you can save the seed from year to year and not be dependent on seed companies for a seed source. Heirlooms tend to have better flavor (in our opinion), and generally provide a longer harvesting window over the season. They also tend to be more reliable in stressful weather conditions where hybrids may fail. Hybrids tend to produce higher overall yields, are more uniform in shape and size, and produce their crop over a shorter period – helpful if you need a lot of volume at one time for canning, pickling, or preserving.

Organic seeds: Organically grown seeds will say “organic” or “OG” in the title or description. Organically grown seeds have been produced without chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, or other known chemical contaminants. By definition, organic seeds cannot be genetically modified (GMO). Organic seeds generally cost 50-100% higher than conventionally grown seeds of the same variety. Large tubers like potatoes may cost five times as much.

Read the catalog descriptions carefully, and ask local long-time area gardeners what varieties they plant. Remember, different soil types, gardening methods, weather conditions, climate zones, and personal preferences are factors that affect your end results. Don’t be afraid to experiment every year with a new variety or vegetable type. It’s exciting to see what you can learn along the way!


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