By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
Armchair gardening has been a rich season for me in 2016. I’ve curled up on my brown armchair with paisley cushions, striped cat at my side, and flipped through a stack of seed catalogs. Annie’s Heirloom Seeds, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Richters, Territorial Seed Company …
I even spent $9.95 at Barnes & Noble to get The Whole Seed Catalog from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. You can visit the company’s website and treat yourself to the catalog for just $7.95. Most of the book is about vegetables and flowers, but the herb section has significant value. Few places offer 19 basils, four milkweeds, plantain and purslane. And, six pages of chile peppers are hot for shopping. The 355-page book goes beyond lush photos to include well-crafted stories of history, seed saving and social responsibility.
I’ve looked at everything from amaranth and basil to wormwood and yarrow. And, I’ve been paralyzed by the abundance. So, I had to flip things around. My two biggest criteria became “What do I use in my cooking?” and “What will grow in my soil and sun/shade conditions?”
After sorting those, I revisited my choices for what sprouts and grows quickly. I look for what leaf shapes and colors add balance. What am I likely to find at retail — lime basil, Chinese chives, perilla? And, I want to try milkweed, as I’ve been reluctant to poach from nature. Fortunately, I have so many perennial herbs just waiting for the snow to clear. Unfortunately, that means my landscape, and thus my additions, are limited.
Just when I think I’m done shopping, I leaf through Richter’s 2016 Herb & Vegetable catalog. If I was overwhelmed previously, I’m now dazed. I don’t even have enough garden space to grow their 25-plus thyme varieties. So, forget sampling 30-plus basil offerings. And, I wonder which of the three catnips my kitties would prefer. Richters offers members a 10 percent discount on orders.
Botanical Interests also offers discounts to members as well. Somehow I missed their catalog this year so I checked it out online. While I couldn’t curl my feet under me in my armchair, the digital catalog has advantages. I could search by new, heirloom, organic or friendly for pollinators or containers.
With armchair gardening season about to wrap up in Northeast Ohio, I’d better stop musing and start ordering. I can’t wait for seed packets to arrive in my mailbox.
Do you have a favorite seed catalog – from the above or different? Let us know.