In dead of winter, the need for seed!

The doldrums of an actual winter have left me pining for green. Anything green.

I’m so desperate to grow something and have it flourish that I’m about to buy some grocery store scallions, cut off the tops, and let the bottoms keep growing in a glass of water on the counter just to feel like I’m gardening. Yep, it’s pathetic.

Thank goodness for seed catalogs. If you remember right, I confessed to being a seed-catalog addict last year around this time. Apparently, the 12-Step Program hasn’t worked. I’m back on the full-color photos of blooms, and it’s bad.

Yes, it helps that the days gradually grow longer and brighter, but I need Gurney’s, Burpee’s and their glossy, flowered friends to get me a hit of garden eye candy. Tender peas with their curlicue vines beckon, and sunny marigolds shine from the pages, reminding me that winter must end sometime. But all we garden junkies can do is dog-ear the pages of these drool-worthy catalogs and wait out the bitter cold.

Sadly, I must report that one of my favorite seed and plant mail-order businesses has shut its doors. High Country Gardens, based in Santa Fe, N.M., closed after 19 years of business. According to a statement on the company’s website, drought, forest fires and the economy contributed to its demise. Not only did High Country Gardens provide an excellent variety of plants well-suited for our climate, it also published an informative catalog that was genuinely fun to read.

I’ll be sticking with some old favorites and trying some new ones this year. In no particular order, here’s a few seed catalogs worth checking out:

Johnny’s Selected Seeds — This 100 percent employee-owned company in Maine is a standout for having reasonable prices and a wide selection.

This is the place to buy if you are looking for quantity. For example, you can purchase organic Royal Burgundy bean seed for $6.45, for 1,000 seeds. That’s a lot of seeds.

Smaller packets of seeds range from $1 to $4, if you’re not looking for a lot. You could always order in bulk and split your order with friends. Check it out at johnnyseeds.com.

Territorial Seed Co. — These guys have a sense of humor. They recently teamed up with author Amy Stewart, author of “The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks,” to offer a cocktail garden collection you can grow yourself.

Their web page even has garden-themed drink recipes. What fun. They also have an intriguing selection of fruit and vines, like passionflower, hops and tea plants, and citrus trees you could grow indoors.

They offer a nice selection of heirloom seeds if you’re looking for something a relative grew long ago. Check them out at territorialseed.com.

Botanical Interests — I know I mentioned these guys last year, but they’re worth repeating. This Colorado-based seed company, started in a family’s spare bedroom in 1995, has consistently produced quality seed that grows beautiful plants in my garden.

I never have germination problems with Botanical Interests seed, and I always learn a lot from the catalog and the seed packets, which are beautifully illustrated.

New this year: A cute children’s gardening kit and 27 new varieties of seed. Visit them at botanicalinterests.com.

As you begin to organize your lists of potential plants to grow in your landscape this year, remember that there is some debate about the USDA’s zone hardiness map and the Grand Valley’s true climate.

The revised map, released last year, shows Grand Junction as being in zone 7a, meaning that it doesn’t gets colder than zero degrees Fahrenheit. Well, frigid temperatures have recently dropped well below zero degrees, tying century-old records.

I think I will stick with the more cold-hardy plants as I order this year.

ON ANOTHER NOTE: Now that we’ve been together for a year, dear reader, I’d love to know what you would like to read about in the West Life column. What sort of home and garden topics interest you?

I have a few requests out there already, but if you have a suggestion, please email me, and I’ll try my best to accommodate your idea.

Erin McIntyre is a writer, master gardener and owner of the gourmet pickle company, Yum Pickles. Email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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