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Garden Seed Catalogs PDF Print E-mail
Written by JEFF RUGG   
Thursday, 13 January 2011 06:13

Q: Last summer, we decided to plant vegetables in a local community garden. We started late and didn't know a lot, but we had fun and some success. We thought that this spring we would like to try seeds instead of the more expensive plants.

We have the "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegetable Gardening" that you recommended, but we are unsure of the best place to buy seeds. We have decided that we want to support companies that don't modify their seeds. Do you know of some good sources?

A: Congratulations on your first gardening attempt and the willingness to learn more and try again. I think you will like the catalogs that I am suggesting to you. First, there are many people like you who want unmodified seeds. About 35 years ago, some of them formed an organization called the Seed Savers Exchange. They offer over 600 plant varieties to the public in their catalog and provide tens of thousands of seeds to members of the nonprofit organization.

The 13,000 members work to collect, maintain and distribute heirloom vegetable varieties. They maintain a list of members who want to exchange with each other, but you don't have to do that to become a member. One of the member benefits is getting discounts on seed, plant or book purchases. Check them out at

Seeds of Change has 100 percent certified organic seeds, so the plants producing the seeds for your garden were grown organically. Organic farmers across the country supply seeds to this Minnesota-based company. They have over 1,200 varieties of seeds, including some annuals and perennials. Their website ( has more options than their catalog.

Comstock, Ferre & Co. has sold vegetable garden seeds for 200 years at its Wethersfield, Conn., location. It was purchased in the past year by the Gettle family, which already owns Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Their catalog is fun to read as they often mention the date and name of the discoverer as well as other old facts. Did you know that Thomas Jefferson liked to plant white beets in his garden, so he may have planted the Albino variety?

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has a farm, a village, monthly festivals and other vacation destination opportunities located in the Missouri Ozarks and a seed bank retail store in Petaluma, Calif. They provide vegetable seeds found in a variety of small villages and markets around the world. They have a few herb and flower varieties, but if you want to try unique vegetables, go to their website at

E-mail questions to Jeff Rugg, University of Illinois Extension at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .