I heard a robin singing last week. Not only that, little green stinging nettle plants and brave daffodil shoots are peeking out through the mud. And the raspberry plants have fresh new buds emerging from the dry, brown canes. That means two things that make my wee heart leap: It’s almost spring, and it’s seed catalog time!
I like to save Mother Nature’s resources, and am slightly obsessed about recycling. I try not to print things unnecessarily and I refuse most catalogs. But in the gloomy overcast, rainy days of winter, when I go to and from work in the dark, and get but rare glimpses of my soggy, leafless garden, I am compelled, yes even seduced to give in to the printed seed catalogs that brighten my mailbox. I get glimmers of sunshine and hope as I curl into my cozy chair, a refreshing beverage and a pile of seed catalogs cheering me on to the next planting season.
Seed catalogs picture optimistic glimpses of ripe, juicy strawberries, round, ready melons and rich green herbs. Giant sunflower heads wave in the warm breeze against a cloudless blue sky. The lettuce is free of both dirt and slug holes. Images of enormous dark red tomatoes described with tantalizing words like “sweet,” “succulent” and “scrumptious” make my mouth water. As I pore over each catalog, carefully making note of new varietals, I garden-geek out on phrases like like “slow to bolt” and “drought resistant” and “freely self seeding.”
Earth Mama doesn’t have a physical catalog, but I still get pleasure out of having something in my hand. I love reading about what’s new in organic pest control, like a fancy copper thingie that goes around plants to repel slugs, mini cloches that cover individual plants and serve as eensy green houses and help extend the growing season, or biodegradable composting bags. I’m spellbound reading about heritage seeds, imagining some ruddy-cheeked pioneer woman with seeds tied up preciously in her apron pocket, making her way along the laborious Oregon Trail. The hopeful seeds would provide food, of course, but also the authentic taste of home. And if she went to all that trouble, shouldn’t I honor her by buying her long-suffering seeds?
Of course I don’t buy all my seeds every year, I also collect seeds from the annuals in my garden. I harvest, dry and store them in the herb room for safekeeping. Some of the plants in my garden came from seed lovingly collected from my herb teacher’s gardens, and each year when I sow these seeds, I am again grateful for their shared wisdom and knowledge.
In the early days of EMAB, all the calendula seeds in the Seeds Of Hope packages came from my garden, carefully and lovingly collected with great intention. Now I no longer have the resources to provide them exclusively from my own garden, but I still harvest calendula seed to mix into the bulk to add the essence and love from my own garden to each packet.
Lucky for me, there are many wonderful companies that pass my own test for quality, integrity and love. Here are a few of my favorites.
Horizon Herbs: Richo Cech, owner of Horizon Herbs is, in my opinion, the best resource for organic and wild harvested medicinal herb seeds anywhere. His company offers the most complete selection of organic medicinal herbs that I am aware of. Although many medicinal herbs sometimes take years to nurture and grow, but are worth the effort. Some of the plants I have grown from Horizon Herbs seeds are still thriving after almost 10 years.
Crimson Sage Nursery: I learned about this company from one of my trusted herb teachers. She bought her perennial medicinal herb plants from Crimson Sage, and so do I. They have a very extensive offering of healthy, often hard to find herb starts that thrive in my garden. My Ginkgo biloba and Vitex trees, and many other plants, came from this nursery. Their printed catalog will be available next month and is worth a look.
Ed Hume Seeds: Ed Hume is a Pacific Northwest native and long-time gardener. His organic vegetable and flower seeds are sold in my local store. Not as many exotics, but I like buying from a local guy. I used to listen to him answer all manner of gardening questions on local radio station and he knows his stuff. This company donates seed for fruits and vegetables donated to local food banks in the inspiring Plant a Row for The Hungry program.
The Thyme Garden Herb Company has a lovely mix of a little bit of everything herbal. Bulk dried herbs, herbal tea blends and boasting over 700 varieties of organic herb plants along with gorgeous pictures of their gardens. They also carry bareroot, endangered medicinal herbs like goldenseal and black cohosh. Even if you don’t think you’ll be harvesting large amounts of these threatened herbs, it’s worth sticking a few in your garden. You can enjoy them and support their longevity at the same time. The catalog costs $2.00, but I think it’s 2 bucks well spent.
Territorial Seed Company has a good, broad offering and worth lingering over. It’s a vast catalog, with interesting and compelling plant descriptions. Their organic herb seed offering is limited, but they do offer a wide variety of organic vegetable seeds. I am captivated by the seed names, like. Organic Drunken Woman Frizzy Headed Lettuce. I’m getting me some of that. I bet this one is “slow to bolt”!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a stack of garden hope, a pad of paper and a cabernet with my name on it.