Icicle TV’s Top Picks for Garden Catalogs
We may be approaching March but winter is still in the air in North Central Washington. Without the aid of cold frames or greenhouses, most gardeners in our area are left to only dream about the upcoming gardening season. Garden catalogs are main staples for greenthumbs enduring the cold months and we’ve gathered our favorites to share with you. The following companies have been chosen not only based on the varieties they sell, but also because they offer something more-a product produced by small organic farmers, seeds from around the world, or varieties specifically chosen to be drought tolerant.
BAKER CREEK SEEDS:
Baker Creek ranks as our number one pick for garden catalogs. While we love to order online and forgo paper catalogs to save on waste, this one is well worth ordering. Baker Creek puts out a high quality catalog once a year filled with beautiful photographs and stories about the seeds they sell. It’s a coffee table book and catalog in one.
At the age of 16, founder Jere Gettle began collecting and selling seeds. His passion grew into a thriving company that he now runs with his wife Emilee. Baker Creeks offers seeds from around the world as well as heirloom staples. If you are looking for novelty you can find it here-Noir de Carmes melons from France, Russian Terragon, and Shanghai Green Pak Choy. A particular top performer for our area has been Amish Paste-large, blocky paste tomatoes that are great for both sauce and eating fresh with a short enough growing season to ripen in Leavenworth before the first frost.
All seeds from Baker Creek are non-gmo. They boycott all gene altering seed companies, including subsidiaries of Monsanto. Their seeds come from small farmers that believe in a common vision. They’ve also worked to provide open pollinated (ie. seeds that can be saved and sown in subsequent years) to some of the world’s poorest countries. We could go on and on about how much we love this company, but you should check it out for yourself: www.rareseeds.com.
SEEDS OF CHANGE
Seeds of Change offer 100% certified organic seeds and live plants. Their mission is “to make organically grown seeds available to gardeners and farmers, while preserving countless heirloom seed varieties in danger of being lost to the “advances” of modern industrial agriculture”. Their seeds are of consistently high quality and they offer a wide range of products, making Seeds of Change a one stop shop. One of their more unique offerings is Amaranth, a traditional grain that can be ground into a high protein gluten-free flour. If the thought of grinding your own grain sounds intimidating, try growing Amaranth for it’s ornamental flowers or toss some of the leaves in a salad. www.seedsofchange.com. IRISH EYES
Irish Eyes gets bonus points in our book for being a Washington State company. We also love their wide variety of potatoes and garlic. If you haven’t given potatoes a try in your garden yet-we promise they are a different animal than the russets you find in the grocery store! Go for fingerling pototoes, purple mini-tubers, or bug repellent King Harry potatoes and add some variety to your spuds. www.irisheyesgardenseeds.com
HIGH COUNTRY GARDENS
While not technically a vegetable seed company, we are throwing this one is as our favorite source for ornamental plants and xeriscaping inspiration. High Country Gardens specializes in low water, eco-friendly landscaping. Water is a precious commodity and we are all for everything we can do to save it but with smart xeriscaping plants and techniques, we don’t have to sacrifice beauty in the name of conservation. Many of the plants they offer require little or no water once established and because they are located in the high desert, they also offer many varieties that are cold-hardy.
High Country Gardens also sells novel varieties of low water and no water lawns in the form of seeds and plugs that once established save water and maintenance. We can’t stop drooling over their prairie grass and thyme lawns. The also sell Thymus serpyllum ‘Ohme Garden Carpet’ thyme, developed and grown right here in the Wenatchee Valley. A tip to our readers-you can bypass High Country Gardens on this one and go straight to the source. It’s the same thyme that has carpeted much of Ohme Gardens for years and they offer it during their plant sales!
Get inspired and gain valuable water wise gardening knowledge at www.highcountrygardens.com SEED SAVERS EXCHANGE
The folks at Seed Savers Exchange were saving and sharing heirloom seeds long before it was hip. Without the dedication of seed preservationists, many varieties would have been lost long ago. Accoring to SSE, “Each year thousands of seed varieties are exchanged among backyard preservationists through the Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook for diverse reasons such as connecting to our garden heritage, finding varieties suited to a particular region, enjoying the diversity of heirloom varieties, and sourcing material to use in localized breeding projects. These preservation methods keep many open-pollinated and heirloom varieties circulating in the hands of gardeners and farmers, making them available to everyone.”
Seeds may be purchased directly from their website but SSE does encourage membership in their organization. By purchasing a membership, you’ll have access to 13,000 varieties and get 10% off all seed purchases, while helping to support the organization’s goals. Their site also offers valuable information about growing and saving seeds: www.seedsavers.org
- When shopping for seeds, keep in mind the following info:
According to the WSU extension office, Wenatchee is in USDA garden zone 5b and Leavenworth is categorized under zone 5. Depending on your particular location and specific microclimate, you may be able to fudge the zones a bit, but knowing this information will give you a good starting point. Our last frost date is typically May 1-20, again depending on your location. A good rule of thumb for Leavenworth is that it’s safe to set out tender plants such as tomatoes when the snow has melted from the top of Wedge Mountain. Happy Plantings!
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