What was I thinking last week when I was putting together the annual "must-have" garden nursery websites and catalogs? I could try and blame it on the limited words I am allowed each week in this column, but in any case I left off a bunch of catalogs Alaskan gardeners simply must have to ease the pain of the long January days. In short, I need to make some amends this week by adding to the list.
First, there is Renee's Garden (reneesgarden.com/about/index.htm) which is the source of all the sweat peas my family grows every year. What a fantastic selection. And, Renee Shepard's organic vegetable seeds have provided many a meal here as well. In fact this seed house is completely organic, as all seed catalogs should be. How could I have left this old friend off the list?
Oh my gosh, how could I have left off Avent's Plant Delights Nursery, plantdelights.com? Sure it may be located in North Carolina, but it has a collection of unusual perennials which includes many that survive our climate with no problems at all. Better yet, in addition to great perennials, Tony deals well with Alaskans and as author of the catalog and newsletters is a delight too
Whoops, I also left off Veseys. This the U.S. outlet of a venerable Canadian company that specializes in short season vegetable and now flower seeds. They claim to have over 700 selections and I don't doubt them at all. Make sure to click on the U.S. flag when you visit their website.
Simply put, there is no excuse for not having listed Brent and Becky's Bulbs. Their spring webalog should be up and running in a week or so. You will be surprised at how many bulbs can be planted in the spring, even here in Alaska. Besides, the photographs, mostly by Brent by the way, are simply perfect in every regard and worth viewing even if you are not interested in buying from them. You could learn a lot about photographing plants in gardens from studying them.
Of course, if you want fantastic photos, and who doesn't, then Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds should be on the must-have list. These are staged in a studio with lights, unlike Brent Heath's, and they are almost edible. The photos in the print catalog which can be requested online, have been described as "porn for gardeners" and one look at even those on the website will tell you why. Make sure to click to enlarge to really get the best pictures. Oh, and in addition they offer over 1,400 different kinds of heirloom, open pollinated seed.
Two readers insist that Richters' catalog, richters.com, be placed on the list. This is another Canadian company that has a U.S. outlet so it is not a hassle paying for and getting seed across the border. The specialty here is growing herbs. If this is your thing, then this is a must-have.
Of course Thompson and Morgan, tmseeds.com, should be here, too. The print catalog (which can be ordered online) is a gardener's bible of annual plants. The website is great, but not as fun. Perhaps the English site thompson-morgan.com, as this is a company that sells English seeds, is a better one to visit.
OK, as I think about it there are even more, but space here really is a limitation. Let me know your favorites at teamingwithmicrobes.com.
Warm Spell Activity: When temperatures get over 32 degrees, it is much easier to apply Plantskydd to keep moose away.
Christmas Tree Recycling: You know the drill. Carrs-Safeway lots in the designated areas. Only naked trees. Deadline approaches, so what are you waiting for?
Jeff Lowenfels' is author of "Teaming With Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to The Soil Food Web."