Comic Books for Gardeners

Tom Kalb
Special to Devils Lake Daily Journal
Though the weather is cold, now is a great time to order seed catalogs, as some seed varieties are already selling out.

Seed catalogs are filling my mailbox. I love it!

When I was a child, my friends read comic books before they went to sleep.

Not me. I read seed catalogs.

I would flip through the pages and look over the beautiful photos. There were bright red tomatoes, purple peppers and golden sunflowers. I went to bed every night dreaming about my next summer’s garden.

If you have not started, now is a great time to order seed catalogs.

Let me share with you my favorite seed catalogs. I don’t want to tell you where to buy your seeds, whether online or at a local garden center, but the following are some free catalogs I think you will enjoy.

I highly recommend you get the catalog from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. This is a northern seed company with an award-winning breeding program.

The Johnny’s catalog is a valuable source of information. For each crop they give you advice on planting dates, spacing and soil requirements. They warn you about the major pests and give advice on how to control them. Harvesting and storage information is included. The Johnny’s catalog is much more than a seed catalog. It’s a grower’s guide for the north.

The catalog of Baker Creek Seeds is the most fascinating catalog. Baker Creek has an amazing collection of heirloom seeds from all over the world. They offer melons that look like snakes, orange eggplants from Turkey, yellow watermelons from Poland and radishes that grow as big as a volleyball. They offer corn and squash grown by the Native Americans of North Dakota. It is very cool!

The one drawback of Baker Creek Seeds is it is based in Missouri. Be cautious about varieties offered by southern companies because some of their varieties may not ripen in North Dakota. When a variety takes 100 days or longer to mature, it may not ripen in time for us.

If you like tomatoes, request the free seed catalogs of Totally Tomatoes and Tomato Growers Supply. Each company offers hundreds of tomatoes in all kinds of shapes, colors and flavors.

Explore and take some chances! Several years back I discovered Stupice, an old Czechoslovakian tomato that ripens early, is easy to grow and has amazing flavor.

Organic seed is a very popular trend. High Mowing Seeds, Seed Savers Exchange, Siskiyou and Wild Garden Seed specialize in these seeds and offer free catalogs. Prairie Road Organic, a seed company in North Dakota, doesn’t offer a printed seed catalog but you can order their quality seeds online.

One drawback of ordering seeds from seed catalogs can be the cost of the seed. Seed packets can cost three to five dollars. Once you add shipping costs, your seeds can get expensive.

That’s why many gardeners like Pinetree Seeds. They offer seed packets in smaller sizes and are more affordable.

Other northern seed companies that offer free seed catalogs include Burpee, Fedco, Gurney’s, HPS, John Scheepers Kitchen Garden, Jung, New England (NE), Osborne, Seedway and Territorial Seeds. These catalogs are all special in their own way.

I recommend you order your seeds soon. Similar to last year, the demand for seeds this year is very high. Seed companies are experiencing labor shortages. These shortages and COVID protocols may delay the shipment of seeds. Some seed supplies are already sold out for 2022.

Good luck! Get on your computers, search for these companies and request their free catalogs. Soon your mailbox will be full of colorful “comic books.”  

For more information about gardening, contact your local NDSU Extension agent. Find the Extension office for your county at https://www.ndsu.edu/agriculture/extension/county-extension-offices.