Catalogs - 2012
I've gotten quite a stack of catalogs by now, and I'm wondering what other people have gotten, and especially which companies you all really liked or had problems with last year--and in previous years.
So far I've gotten--in alphabetical order:
John Sheeper's Kitchen Garden Seeds
Park - x2 already!
Seed Savers Exchange
Seeds of Change
Still haven't gotten High County Gardens, Burpee, and a few others I've gotten in the past, but I think I might be dropping off of the lists of some of the places I never buy from!
I'll start with FEDCO, and not just because it's on the top of the list! Last year I really wanted this catalog, but the only way to get it is to call them, and I missed their "cut off" last year! This year I made sure to call early in December. They said they mailed their catalogs out in January, and I got it on the last day of December! Good start!
At Digit's ravings (the good kind!) I started to check out their site last year, and really liked what I saw! Their online catalog, which is just a scanned-in version of the print catalog, however, is all but impossible to effectively use. When I got the REAL catalog a couple weeks ago, I was delighted! Plain old black ink on newsprint, with line drawings! No glitzy color pictures! But lots of fun--and sometimes bizarre pictures! And lots of fun (and sometimes bizarre?) "information" in the front of the catalog!!! I like their attitude and philosophy!
Their prices are GREAT (one of the things that attracted me to them), and shipping (of seeds) is FREE on orders over $30! It's $5 for orders under $30, but, hey, I will gladly find enough seeds to get up to $30--and get seeds for the last $5 rather than just pay for shipping! I have a bunch of things highlighted already, but with their per pack price of $1 - $2 for most of them, I wonder if I'm anywhere near $30 yet! [Seeds are the only thing they ship free!] Digit, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe ALL their seed is OP, and I think most, if not all, is organic.
If you decide to get a catalog from them, before you call check out their site. They have 4 different catalogs, and when you call you leave a message with your address and which catalogs you want, so you need to know that before you call! They also have "separate divisions" for the separate catalogs, and you need to use the RIGHT order sheet for the right stuff! NO online ordering! You need to fill out the form (they say no attached lists - tho I'm planning to fill out their form and send a copy of my list in case they can't read my printing!), and send it in to them!
In the Seed catalog they also have seed potatoes, onions, shallots (separate order form with shipping!), and cover crop seed. The Tree catalog has trees---DUH, shrubs, small fruit, vines (including grapes), and some perennial plants.
PINETREE! I already got an order from them--in December! When I got the catalog this year I read their little Blurb inside the front of the cover and they (the founders) have just turned the company over to the "next generation!" I was "appropriately" impressed with what I read, and I've always been happy in my dealings with them, so unless something changes for the worse, I will probably continue to get (usually small because of my limited space) orders from them! They have small quantities of seed per packet at cheap prices! Everything I've ever gotten seems to be true to variety and I've never had any germination problems. (Tho since this is a small family business, I suspect there wouldn't be any problem getting a replacement or credit if there ever were to be a problem!)
Shipping if $3.95 for up to $19.99. [I'll list shipping for the smallest order for the places I'm listing, which gives you "relativity!"] They have coupons for $1 off any order placed before November 2012, or $2 off any order where you include somebody's name for their mailing list before the same date. (The reason I ordered so early is because I originally read that as an Early Bird type special and thought it expired the end of November 2011!)
Their website is pretty good--easiest to navigate, IMO, if you mostly use the drop down menu on the left side! One thing I found confusing when I first started using their catalog is that they have separate sections for veggies that come from or grow well in other parts of the world, like Asian, French, Latin America, etc., so if, for instance, you're looking for beans, you need to look at the bean section--and then check all the other "world" sections or you might miss something. It's the same in the catalog and online! I wish they'd at least cross reference the "main" bean section with a list of beans listed elsewhere and with the page numbers, or online list such things in BOTH places. If you're in a hurry, it can be time consuming looking all over the place! You can place your order online or send it in, or call it in. If you call it in, you just tell them about the coupons to get the deduction, and you don't have to subsequently send it in! They DON'T have a toll free number!
SAND HILL PRESERVATION. I haven't gotten their catalog yet this year, but I have some comments! Last year was the first year I ordered from them, and the quantity of seeds you get for the price is truly impressive! I believe all their seeds are OP, and most (working toward all) are organic.
But (I was originally planning to go back to last year's catalog thread to post this but never got it done so will do it here) I did have a couple problems when it came to growing time! I'm not real sure the parsnip seed I got was true to variety! I got Harris Model, the same one I've been growing for a few years now, and I just dug up the first of them last week--and they just don't look the same as the ones I've grown in the past. Harris Model for me has always been VERY long, with very gradually tapering roots. The ones I got this year were only about half as long and while the roots are about as big on the top as in the past, they VERY abruptly taper down to "skinny." Not sure what to think! As with all seed packets from them, I got a LOT of seed and was planning to use it again this year, but parsnip seed looses its viability VERY quickly, and while I'm sure it would still be viable this year, I'm not sure it's worth planting more of it if I'm not gonna get as much "overall product" in the end, so I might just order fresh seed somewhere else, then plant mostly the new seed and a little of the SH seed for a comparison at the end of next year! ALSO, I WAS going to try Gill's Golden Pippen (winter) squash, but I got NO germination at all! Planted 5 seeds in a 3.5" pot to start them inside a little bit early, and when they never germinated (when all the rest of my squash were coming along nicely!) I put in 5 more seeds and--still nothing! I'm quite sure they'll replace them if I complain, so if I do another order from them this year, I'll let them know I had a problem. Now that I've discovered Fedco, I'll just need to wait to see where the chips fall--or would that be Where the Seeds Fall!
For TOMATOES I think it would be VERY hard to beat Sand Hill! In the 2011 catalog they had over 600 varieties! I'd say there's a pretty good chance I will order from them again, just for tomatoes if nothing else!
Their catalog is basic black and white on newsprint with NO pictures, and very brief descriptions of the varieties they carry. Additional research elsewhere is almost required for a thorough description of each, tho most of the folks around here do that anyway--especially for tomatoes! On seed orders shipping is FREE on orders over $10. They also carry SWEET potatoes--a LARGE selection of them, and almost make it sound like we can actually GROW them around here! I was SO tempted last year--but didn't, mostly 'cause I just don't have the room! They have peanuts and cotton too!!! Good Luck!!! AND they carry poultry for those of you that are so inclined--and can legally do it!
Their online catalog is "minimal" just like their print catalog, and the ONLY way you can order from them is to print their order blank--or use the one in the print catalog, fill it out, and MAIL it to them!
HARRIS SEED. I ordered from Harris every year when I first started my little veggie garden, mostly 'cause they have a better selection of pelleted seed for carrots and lettuce, but then I started finding other places and haven't ordered from them for a couple years, mostly 'cause I "just didn't get around to it!" Their prices for the quantity of seed you get are quite reasonable; shipping slightly higher than the places I've been ordering from recently. I am definitely ordering from them again this year, mostly because I spent a couple hours one nite researching my favorite cucumber, Diva, for the best price and it turned out I can get a large quantity from Harris, which will make the per seed price a fraction of what I've been paying EVERY YEAR for small quantities from other companies. Prices for Diva online run from about $3 to $5 or more for a packet of about 20 seeds! At Harris I can get 500 seeds for $9.95! I trellis my cukes and plant them about an inch apart, so I was going thru a couple of the smaller packs each year. I figure cuke seeds should be viable for AT LEAST three years, and probably longer--possibly with reduced germination, and if I CAN use them for at least three years my per seed price will be down considerably from what I've been paying! Diva, for you cuke folks, is consistently seedless/burpless, and generally grow well for me. Production is somewhat less than other "seedless" varieties I've tried--most of which aren't seedless! I keep trying other varieties, but at this point at least, Diva is a Must Have every year. If anyone here wants to try some of them for a prorated charge (cost of seed + shipping), I'll have plenty to spare when I get them! Harris is an enamel catalog with pretty pics and has a (somewhat limited) selection of all the basic veggies and lots of flower seed too! Shipping is $4.65 up to $15. Will probably order some more pelleted Royal Chantenay carrot seed since I'm doing an order anyway.
VERMONT BEAN. Just a quick comment! I ordered from them in '09, am still using some of that seed, and have been very happy with the quality and germination! Haven't ordered again just because I've found other places for the little bit of stuff I use, and I can't order from EVERYBODY! Large selection of green and dry beans. Some of everything else, with a very small selection of tomatoes. "Pretty" catalog on enamel with color pics of most things. Shipping this year appears to be $6.95 regardless of quantity!
TOTALLY TOMATOES. Ordered a few years ago, and just a couple comments! Pretty, enamel catalog with lots of full color pics! They have quite a few tomatoes and lots of peppers and a little other stuff! I ordered mostly tomato seeds from them--and had germination problems with a couple of the varieties I got, so since there are SO many places to get tomatoes, I haven't reordered from them! Somebody else around here, a couple years ago, also commented that they had had some germination problems, and that was all the convincing I needed. Shipping is $4.95 up to $24.99.
THUMBS DOWN - AND NEVER AGAIN!
PARK SEED. I had been ordering from Park Seed since the 70's! Oh, well! I guess all good things must come to an end! In 2010 I ordered an early order and then kept getting emails with $1 a pack specials with free shipping so I kept ordering stuff a little at a time. Their shipping was downright weird! They'd send one or two packets at a time in a padded mailer--even from my original "bigger" order! It must have cost them a fortune in shipping to keep sending everything individually! But I got everything, and had no germination problems--have NEVER had a variety or germination problem from them. So, in 2011 I decided to do it again! Finished my order late one nite--spent a LOT of time looking (online) thru all their specials and stuff, and when I went to check out it added more than the amount of shipping it was "supposed to." Looked and looked--1:00 in the morning by then!--and tried "replacing" my order several times, and it just kept on adding "too much" shipping. X'd out of my order and gave up! The next morning I tried again and it did the same thing, so I called them--and got some warped explanation about how the shipping was based on the "full" amount of the order, and what I was adding up was the "sale" amount of the order! I explained that I had NO idea what the "original" price of the items was and didn't even know which ones I had picked from the sale lists or the regular lists. Was told basically that that's the way it was, and the higher shipping amount was right! Still wanted some of the things, so I went back in and "rearranged" things until it showed the shipping I had expected to pay--AND THEN--when I went to the final checkout page, IT ADDED A FUEL SURCHARGE in addition to the shipping! MAD by now! Not angry--MAD! Called back--MAD! Told them I had gotten that far once the nite before and there was NO fuel surcharge added! Was told they had just started doing it! I ranted--and they ,eventually, said that I should call back with the "confirmation number" after I placed my order and they'd credit me for the fuel surcharge! Placed the order--and there was no confirmation number--even in the email I got! Called them back and explained the whole thing again, and was--eventually, told they'd credit me for the fuel surcharge. Waited a couple days, checking my credit card, and when I never got the credit I called AGAIN and asked for a supervisor! She was VERY nice, and told me they didn't want to lose my business and that for my "trouble" she'd refund ALL the shipping and fuel charges! NEVER HAPPENED! I will NEVER buy from Park again! Buh-bye Park Seed! Don't make Skybird mad, or rip her off, if you hope to score some of her money!!! [And their shipping is considerably higher than most of the companies I order from anyway! $4.95 for up to $9.95! That's 50% of the order!!!]
ALL THE OTHER COMPANIES I LISTED IN THE BEGINNING!
Either I haven't bought from them or haven't bought from them recently enough to have a comment, or just don't remember anything specific that was either positive or negative enough to have made an impression on me!
And I have one Specific Veggie comment! I grew Rosa Bianca eggplant for the first time in 2011, and for any and all eggplant lovers around here, you MUST try Rosa Bianca! When researching different ones, I found a blog online telling about how good it was, and that it's much "denser" than other eggplants, and this person was just sauteing it in olive oil with salt and pepper and eating it! They posted a pic, and weren't even peeling it, and I really, really wondered if it was that much different! It is! Previously I had only ever had eggplant breaded and fried or "in" something--never would have considered just sauteing it!. I had a Bad Eggplant Year in 2011, and only got a couple of them, but they are GOOD! Tried it with the peel on the first time, and I found it to be a little bit tougher than I prefer--not bad--but I will peel them in the future. Just a little bit of olive oil, heat, and salt--I'm not a big fan of pepper! You could add garlic or whatever other spices you like. They're YUMMY! Round, about 4" diameter, with a pinkish, lavenderish color. And I'm sure they'll work just as well, probably better, cooked other ways too! I'll be growing at least two plants next year, and it's gonna be a MUST HAVE from here on out! Try it, you'll like it!
So that's all the catalog/company ratings and information I have for right now! Who else has an opinion(s) about the different companies and their products? Thumbs up or thumbs down???
The days are getting longer,