So, why am I even thinking of vegetables this time of year? I think for a few reasons, one being the unseasonably warm weather that my area has been having (I was line drying clothing on the 1st of February in 55 degree weather!) The other being the wisdom I learned from an older gardener a few years ago. She said, "February is the time to start your tomatoes." Seriously? I always wondered why plant sales in May had such gargantuan offerings of the tomato plant, offerings that towered over my spindly, wimpy little homegrown from seed ones. This was the trick, she started them long before I did and hers were wildly bigger, heartier, and healthier than mine. I do have to share that through trial and error over the last 2 years, I did start growing my seeds indoors. I have this insatiable desire sometimes to get to the most very basic elements of something and do it myself! (I realize I must sound like a toddler here). Why would I go spend money on plants when I could just "do it myself" from the seeds I saved after last year's harvest? Well, that I did, and I have chronicled my gardening ventures here on my blog, even through failed attempts and frozen seedlings. I have come to a profound realization that is hard for me to admit...without a good greenhouse, it is hard to start tomato plants really early. I said it. I feel like I am admitting defeat as I really fantasize over the scads of tomato plants that I can grow from seed, but alas, they end up far too leggy, spindly, and awkward when I inevitably leave them out too long while "hardening" them off in the spring, only to have to start over from scratch again. That being said, the admitting defeat part, I think until that glorious day when I can purchase a real greenhouse, complete with a door, vents and a way to heat, I will simply go back to purchasing whole tomato plants. At least I gave it a girl scout try!
As for all the other plants...I will continue to grow my cabbage, carrots, peepers, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, pumpkins, Delicata, green beans, pintos, and all the others from seed, but oh you tomato, you win, I will buy plants of your form.
I have pictured above the plant catalogs that are my favorites. I love these because most carry the old heirloom variety of plants, most are organically grown and GMO free. You can also buy some hybrids, and sometimes I do as long as they are non-GMO. However, if you are newer to gardening just be aware that hybrid seeds, though usually heartier and sometimes more pest resistant, cannot be saved as seed. A hybrid seed will not produce another plant true to the form of the one you saved from. So, when I buy hybrid seeds it is usually just for a fun accoutrament to my produce plan, I do not buy hybrids for my main crops (as those I still save seed from year to year).
You can go to any of the websites for the catalogs above and request a catalog, and I suggest that you do, maybe you too will be salivating as I do, in February, dreaming of the first crops to come!
Annie's Heirloom Seeds
Johnny's Seed Catalog
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Seed Saver's Exchange (PRETTIEST CATALOG BY FAR!)
And here is an article by Mother Earth News Magazine on the 22 best seed catalogs.