2021 Seed Catalog Reviews
I’m not gonna lie: Seeing the mailbox packed with color seed catalogs is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season.
What is more hopeful, positive, and bursting with potential than a listing of plants and flowers you could grow? And from tiny seeds, no less? Retail therapy, indeed!
Obviously, I don’t get every seed catalog available delivered to my home. I get a small pile of ones I tend to purchase from regularly, and each has its positives and negatives. This is my take on this year’s offerings from my favorite seed suppliers.
This is always my go-to company for seeds for my garden, and their catalog this year is reflective of why that is.
Instead of photographs, they use drawings for each variety of seed. That means you usually see the fruit and the plant in its most desired form. The drawings are dead-on and perfect. No bad lighting or weird camera angles will make you unclear about the exact variety you are choosing. And, each and every variety gets a picture in the catalog.
The info on each variety is clear and concise, just like their informative seed packets. When I just want to choose seeds and buy them without much fuss, Botanical Interests is the way to go.
They give extra attention to the new seeds for the year on the first spread, making it easy to find the most exciting items first. There’s helpful information throughout about various subjects. This year, they explain the difference between Conventional and Organic seeds.
The paper catalog can be requested via this link, or you can view it online: Botanical Interests Catalog
If you’d rather shop locally, I know that I found a huge selection of Botanical Interests seeds at Golden Nursery in San Mateo and FlowerCraft in San Francisco, but it has been a while, so I would call them to check before you head over!
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
When I am actively avoiding the cold, wet weather of the Bay Area’s winter, I love to curl up under a blanket with a hot cocoa and the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog. Something about the long, historically-minded seed descriptions and bizarre random family photos make me feel like I’m living on a homestead in the wilderness and not trapped in a Covid-fueled never-ending-family-only-hellscape.
This catalog is not for a quick perusal. Get your reading glasses and plan to learn first-hand why professional graphic designers try to avoid having too many words per line in a paragraph. Some of the descriptions are only a few sentences, and some are half-pages of text about the history, uses, and cultural significance of a particular type of Chinese Cabbage or Amaranth.
It’s perfect to have these long descriptions because unless you already get the catalog every year, you might not have heard of many of these plants. The descriptions make you want to know these plants–to try them and grow them and look half as happy as the children in some of the pictures.
Something unique to Baker Creek’s catalog, besides the hard-to-find and new-to-America seeds, is that they do not separate vegetables from flowers. Partly, that’s a brilliant way to convince those of us on one side of the fence or the other to experience the incredible lure of the other. And partly it’s also because the line between food and flora is a thin one. On at least half the plants I’d call “flowers,” Baker Creek talks about the number of antioxidants it contains or explains how to use it in smoothies or baked goods like the Hopis used to.
The 2021 Catalog isn’t all that Baker Creeks puts out–they also have a Whole Seed Catalog for which they charge $13. It includes even more amazing photos and seed varieties. To request the catalog, view it online, or purchase the Whole Seeds Catalog, go here: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
When Covid is less of a threat, be sure to make your way to the Petaluma Seed Bank to buy seeds and gawk generally at the amazing collection in person.
With a massive collection of seeds, it’s amazing they can get it all into one book. So much variety for every vegetable and flower, plus the option to purchase 1 oz of seeds or 50 lbs of some seeds, makes it worth a look.
The quality of seeds is great, the diversity is amazing, and the extras, like gardening supplies and fertilizers they also sell are great. It’s just…the catalog is very utilitarian. It reminds me of Burpee catalogs.
As a company, I think they cater to more serious farmers along with home gardeners, so this makes sense. But for an escape into the dreams of a robust garden in the spring, it lacks imagination.
You can request a 2021 catalog here: Territorial Seed Catalog Request Form
With a focus on only organic seeds and a huge collection of other products, including garlic, potatoes, and fruit trees depending on the time of year, I always look forward to the many focused catalogs from California-based Peaceful Valley/GrowOrganic.com.
Like Botanical Interests, Peaceful Valley uses drawings of their offerings, but the drawings are more artistic: think clever camera angles. I prefer the scientific precision of Botanical Interests over these drawings for seed purchasing, though I do appreciate the art. The variety of offerings is sufficient for most home vegetable gardeners, but if you’re looking for something new and exciting, this may not be the catalog for you.
One awesome thing to note is that Peaceful Valley offers free shipping for seeds if you buy at least 5 packets. If you’re looking to stock up for spring with organic seeds, this would be the place. They also occasionally offer free seeds with larger purchases of gardening equipment or materials.
And, while I might not love their seed catalog offering, I will be waiting excitedly for their 2021 Bare Root Catalog–I’m thinking this may be the year to get that Persimmon Tree!
View all catalogs online: Peaceful Valley/GrowOrganic.com Catalogs
What’d I Miss?
Is there an awesome seed catalog you love to comb through every winter? Please tell me about it in the comments!
3 thoughts on “2021 Seed Catalog Reviews”
Thank you for the recap — I’ve enjoyed the quality and easy shipping options from Peaceful Valley. Are you planning anything different from the selections you described in the 2020 Garden Plans post? Some of our winners last year were finger-sized cucumbers and the lacinato kale.
Hi Rosa, Lacinato Kale is one of my absolute favorites to grow because it’s so much sweeter freshly harvested than when you buy it (even from a Farmer’s Market!). I’m going to be trying a cantaloupe this year since watermelons were a total bust, some new gourds, and I’m giving a try on some flowers–not my forte, but I’m looking to expand my knowledge outside the world of vegetables. I’ll get a post up soon about all the varieties I’ll be trying. What was the name of the cucumber you grew last year? We always end up with too many huge cukes with “Marketmore,” so I’d love a smaller option if it’s tasty!
Hi Michelle, the cucumbers were Diva and Minime. We had a few of both and I’m not sure which was which by harvest time. We garden in hydroponic towers on our San Mateo patio, and started gardening in March, right around the start of the stay-at-home order. Your guides have been super helpful!
We started with mail order seedlings and by the summer I’d started to produce homegrown seedlings with a bit more predictability. It was a fun to learn more about what worked or didn’t work in the tower or our micro climate. This year I’m going to start seedlings indoors, and try my hand at peppers and squash earlier in the season. The cold arrived before our peppers and eggplant matured. I’ll also keep up the supply of greens.