It’s been a beautiful winter weekend in the Delaware River Valley. Friday night’s light snowfall left a dusting of powder on bare branches, turning stark grey woods into delicate lace work. Seasonally cold, if only for a few days, the weather has been ideal for indoor activities like curling up with a good book…or paging through those organic seed catalogs that always seem to land in the mailbox just as the weather is at its coldest.
Full of the brilliant colors and textures sorely missing from the winter landscape, seed catalogs can get us imagining ourselves as flawless gardeners, capable of cultivating the rarest flower or most esoteric vegetable. While reality will check those fantasies in a few months, for now, we can indulge them a bit by choosing from a wide variety of tiny packages.
Best of all, seed catalogs offer the perfect opportunity to commit to a fully organic edible garden. While starting from seed has its challenges, it’s a sure-fire way to know your vegetables began their lives free of chemicals.
The benefits of organic seeds
Several nurseries and organic farms in this area sell “organic starts.” But once your edible gardening progresses beyond lettuce and tomatoes, it can be a challenge to find everything you want to grow. Non-organic starts generally have been fertilized with… well…non-organic fertilizers. You can give them a chemical-free life once they are in the ground, but it’s not quite the same.
When you begin with organic seeds, you get:
- A virtually endless variety of vegetables, from the mundane to the exotic.
- All the benefits of organic, non-GMO and heirloom plants.
- A chance to learn more about the process of cultivating your garden and perhaps feel even more connected to the food you grow.
Organic seed options
Here are just a few organic seed purveyors we’ve come across online or at local nurseries:
- Burpee, http://www.burpee.com. Most of their seed is not organic, but they do have a sizeable organic selection.
- Groworganic.com, http://www.groworganic.com — organic, sustainably grown, non-GMO
- Heirloomseeds.com, http://www.heirloomseeds.com — organic and heirloom
- Seedsofchange.com, http://www.seedsofchange.com — USDA certified organic, non-GMO and heirloom
- Highmowingseeds.com, http://www.highmowingseeds.com — USDA certified organic and Vermont certified organic
You also may want to check out these “best of” lists, which include both seed companies and seed saving organizations, the latter sometimes requiring membership:
- Treehugger — 10 Best Heirloom Seed Companies as Selected By Readers, http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/10-best-seed-companies–selected-by-readers.html
- Mother Earth News — Best Vegetable Seed Companies, http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/best-vegetable-seed-companies-zm0z11zsto.aspx
Of course, if you’re up for the task, you may want to harvest your own seeds next fall for the 2014 garden. (But that’s getting ahead of ourselves a bit.)
In the meantime, to learn more about starting your organic garden from seed — like which seeds should be cultivated indoors and which can be sowed directly in the ground, check out:
- You Bet Your Garden, http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=1072
Happy garden dreams.
- Time To Order Seed Catalogs (garden-eats.com)
- Got Seeds? Get Local! (showmeoz.wordpress.com)
- All About Seeds -The Basics (gwinnettfoodgardenersnetwork.wordpress.com)