Jackie Bantle, Saskatchewan Perennial Society
The days are getting longer and there is a bit of warmth in the sun. There is a hint of green starting to show up on my thumbs and it’s not gangrene. One way to manage this ‘green infection’ is to sit in a comfy place with your favorite beverage and seed catalogues in hand.
My favorite Canadian catalogues for ordering vegetable and flower seeds include West Coast Seeds in Delta, BC (www.westcoastseeds.com), Vesey’s seeds in York, Prince Edward Island (www.veseys.com), William Dam Seeds in Hamilton, Ontario (www.damseeds.com) and Stokes Seeds from Thorold, Ontario (www.stokeseeds.com/ca). All of these catalogues have colorful bright pictures, highlight new varieties each year and carry many of the most current vegetable and flower varieties released into the market by seed breeders throughout North America. Vesey’s always has an excellent selection of cole crops like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower to choose from as well as corn and tomato varieties that have seasonal requirements similar to the Prairies. West Coast Seeds is a great company to find unique organic vegetable and flower seed, especially many Asian vegetables. Stokes Seeds has the biggest selection of flower and vegetable seed of any seed company in Canada. William Dam Seeds may have a smaller selection but anything that I’ve grown from William Dam Seeds has always performed well in my garden. When searching for seeds from companies located in areas with a longer growing season than yours, remember to look cultivars that are early maturing or recommended for shorter growing seasons.
Although they may not carry the newest vegetable or flower cultivar releases, one of the advantages of purchasing seed from a more local seed company is that the seeds that they do sell are probably some of the best performing cultivars for your area. T&T Seeds (https://ttseeds.com) and Lindenberg Seeds (https://lindenbergseeds.ca) are two well established seed companies in Manitoba. Lindenberg Seeds has a simple catalogue, but a large selection of flowers and vegetables recommended for the Prairie region. You will find some older, ‘hard to find’ cultivars of vegetables and flowers in the Lindenberg catalogue. In the Saskatoon area, Early’s Farm and Garden (www.earlysgarden.com) puts out a catalogue each year that contains some of their best selling vegetable varieties along with many other gardening tools and resources that they sell. If you are looking for turf seed that is hardy for Prairie conditions, Early’s has many options available.
One of my favorite sources for heirloom tomatoes and regular tomato varieties as well as other heirloom and organic vegetable seeds is Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Albion, Maine (www.johnnyseeds.com). I have never had a problem importing seed from this company. They have their own breeding program which produces some unique new vegetable varieties that are specifically bred with the backyard gardener in mind. (i.e. the focus is more on flavor and quality and not necessarily on yields).
My favorite source for herb seed and seedlings is Richter’s Herbs in Goodwood, Ontario (www.richters.com). Richter’s has everything from 32 different types of basil and fourteen different types of garlic to twenty five unique tomato cultivars. If you are looking to expand your herb garden, Richter’s is a definite place to shop.
Other interesting Canadian sources of seeds include The Incredible Seed Company (www.incredibleseeds.ca) (flower, vegetables and tree seeds), OSC Seeds (www.oscseeds.com), Blazing Star Wildflower Seed Company (www.growwildflowers.ca) (specialize in Canadian wildflower seed and is located near Aberdeen, SK), Heritage Harvest Seed (www.heritageharvestseed.com) (a company in Manitoba specializing in rare and endangered heirloom vegetable, flower, herb and ancient grain seeds), Salt Spring Seeds (www.saltspringseeds.com) (garlic bulbs, heirloom vegetable, flower and grain seeds) and Prairie Garden Seeds (https://prairiegardenseeds.ca) (a Saskatchewan seed company selling vegetable, flower and grain seeds and many heirloom varieties).
The number of seed/gardening catalogues available to the Prairie gardener can be overwhelming. The challenge of seed catalogue shopping is not to overspend and purchase more cultivars than you have space for in your garden. The dreams and plans for the upcoming garden season are alive and well!
This column is provided courtesy of the Saskatchewan Perennial Society (SPS; firstname.lastname@example.org ). Check our website (www.saskperennial.ca) or Facebook page (www.facebook.com/saskperennial) for a list of upcoming gardening events