Seed catalogs can sometimes be so beautiful that they look like collector’s pieces, and even though they do quite literally expire in use each year, it’s hard to throw them out. When I start getting my seed catalogs in the mail in January, I take to them like a good book and sit down with a glass of wine, thinking up ideas of everything I want to plant. For example, last year, I was psyched about the new Black Strawberry cherry tomatoes from Baker’s Creek. It graced the front cover of their catalog and I was psyched. Unfortunately for me, I only got a handful of tomatoes out of it, but that’s the fun of trying out new seeds, right?!
2023 seed catalogs are now out and are arriving in mailboxes everywhere in the U.S.—this is our moment, gang!
Sure, the Burpee and Baker’s Creek seed catalogs are like the Sears catalog of our age (and niche) but there are so many more … and with purpose—to honor lands, seeds, and food, like Truelove Seeds who doesn’t have a catalog, but instead focuses their efforts on the 50+ small-scale urban and rural farmers who are “committed to community food sovereignty, cultural preservation, and sustainable agriculture.” They also share 50% of their profits with the farmers. If you look, there are lots of visionary seed companies dedicated to upholding the integrity of the food we grow, like Ujamaa Seeds and Fruition Seeds, to name a few more.
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For the free 2023 seed catalogs listed below, I’ve included locations because, although not required, some folks like to choose seeds from areas physically close to them, which can have a better guarantee of whether a plant will grow or not in your similar geographic location. With that, let’s peruse some catalogs! Only the first few are in order of my own preference, the rest are free for you to peruse at your leisure. I’ve provided links to catalog request forms and to digital catalogs when available.
Seed Savers Exchange (Decorah, Iowa) – Request a free catalog | Digital edition
Founded in 1975 by Diane Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy in Missouri, Seed Savers Exchange has become one of the most significant non-profit seedbanks across America. With 13,000 members and 20,000 plant varieties represented on 890 acres at Heritage Farm located within Winneshiek County, Iowa; they are dedicated to regenerating heirloom plants through distribution methods such as exchanging seeds.
Baker Creek (Mansfield, MO and Petaluma, CA) – Request a free catalog | Buy the “whole” catalog
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has been around since 1998. They are America’s largest heirloom seed company. Their mission is to preserve these rare and valuable plant species through breeding programs and seed-saving techniques. Baker Creek has a robust free catalog and an even bigger catalog you can buy for $15.
Burpee (Warminster, PA) – Request a free catalog | Digital edition
Burpee needs no introduction. They have been around since 1876, starting out as a mail-order poultry and livestock company. They quickly moved to plants, and remain one of the largest seed companies in North America. The company offers a huge selection of vegetable, flower, fruit, herb, and ornamental plants. Their seed catalog collection is quite robust and getting on their list means you’ll have no shortage of seeds to peruse.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds (Winslow, ME) – Request a free catalog | Digital edition
Johnny’s Selected Seeds is an employee-owned seed company located in Maine. The company was started 50 years ago by Rob Johnston, Jr., and today they are a multichannel breeder and purveyor of seeds, plants, tools, and supplies. What everyone loves about Johnny’s is their research farm, where everything must pass a rigorous trialing program before being included in the catalog.
Their catalogs are more than just a way to buy seeds; they are a field manual for market farmers and gardeners, with planting advice and research-based technical information throughout the pages. Johnny’s is one of the nine original signers of the Safe Seed Pledge. According to their website, “part of the farm was certified organic by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) in 1979, and Johnny’s maintains its certification.”
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (Mineral, VA) – Request a free catalog
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange offers heirloom varieties to “conserve and distribute rare and endangered varieties; open-pollinated varieties to encourage seed saving and exchange among gardeners; disease- and insect-tolerant varieties to reduce pesticide use; and varieties for local and small-scale growers to encourage regional food production.” They offer 800 varieties of vegetable, flower, herb, grain, and cover crop seeds and their varieties perform well in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, though you can grow their seeds anywhere.
Botanical Interests (Broomfield, CO) – Request a free catalog | Digital edition
Botanical Interests has a strong desire to make organic gardening accessible by helping customers with easy-to-follow organic gardening advice and organic seeds. They were early signers of the Safe Seed Pledge which states “…we do not knowingly buy, sell, or trade genetically-engineered seeds or plants” and their seeds are tested and verified by the Non-GMO Project, which looks for genetically engineered (GMO) contamination in seeds that can occur when plants cross-pollinate. Their seeds are not treated, and their packets never contain fillers.
Pinetree Garden Seeds (New Gloucester, ME) – Request a free catalog | Digital edition
Operating out of a 300-year old farmhouse in rural Maine, Pinetree Garden Seeds is a well-known brand that sells organic seeds, plants, kits, and more. Pinetree has signed the Safe Seed Pledge as well and has never sold any genetically modified seeds. They are well-loved by the gardeners in my circle, who introduced me to them.
High Mowing Organic Seeds (Wolcott, VT) – Request a free catalog | Digital edition
With a love for cultivating cold-climate plants, High Mowing Organic Seeds began in 1996 with just 28 varieties, most of which were created by founder Tom Stearns, who has a passion for creating productive, organic varieties. They now have over 700 heirloom, open-pollinated, and hybrid varieties of vegetable, fruit, herb, and flower seed sourced mostly from independent, passionate organic seed farmers.
Fedco Seeds (Clinton, ME) – Request a free catalog | Digital edition
If you live in the Northeast, you’ll appreciate Fedco, whose seeds are adapted for the cold climate. Fedco is a cooperative business based in Maine, meaning that they are one of the few seed companies that have no individual owner or beneficiary, and profit is not the goal. Consumers own 60% of the cooperative and worker members 40%. They specialize in cold-hardy selections and source seeds from all over the world through five divisions: Seeds, Potatoes, Onions and Exotics, Organic Growers Supply, Trees, and Bulbs.
Territorial Seed Company (Cottage Grove, OR) – Request a free catalog | Digital edition
Territorial Seed Company’s mission statement is to “improve people’s self-sufficiency and independence by enabling gardeners to produce an abundance of good tasting, fresh from the garden food, twelve months a year.” They have been through a few owners over the years, but maintain the same mission and love of growing based on the original owner, Steve Solomon, author of the 1981 natural gardening book Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades. Territorial Seed Company has made the Safe Seed Pledge as well and do not sell any genetically modified seeds.
John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds (Bantam, CT) – Request a free catalog
As a New Englander myself, I can tell you that John Scheepers is a local favorite, being based out of Connecticut. The seeds are reliable and tolerant of the unpredictable New England weather, which means their seeds can probably grow anywhere. John Scheepers offers gourmet vegetable seeds, aromatic herbs, and beautiful flower seeds from around the world for your family’s garden.
Willhite Seed Inc. (Pooleville, TX) – Request a free catalog | Digital edition
Willhite Seed started over a century ago, when Thomas A. Willhite won first place for his watermelons at the World Fair. They say he sold some watermelons that year, but he also sold 77 pounds of watermelon seeds, kicking off Willhite Melon Seed Farms. Flash forward to today, and family-owned Willhite Seed Inc. sells much more than melon seeds. They pledge to maintain their dedication to heirloom varieties of seeds, especially their widely acclaimed watermelon seed lines, but they also pledge to continue their efforts to develop and perfect new and superior varieties going forward.
MIGardener (Port Huron, MI) – Digital edition
Everybody in my gardening groups love Michigan-based MIgardener because they germinate well and are affordable. But it also probably helps that they have a popular YouTube Channel with almost a million subscribers where they focus their energy on helping people grow their own gardens. MIGardener is a husband and wife team, with an online presence founded around 2011 and seed company that came together in 2014, and they carry some pretty neat seeds.
Park Seed (Hodges, SC) – Request a free catalog | Digital edition
Park Seed comes with a fun story of a 15-year-old George W. Park who advertised seeds from his own garden in 1868. He placed an ad in the Rural American which cost $3.50 and ended up making $6.50. And the rest is history, as they say! Park Seed really hangs their hat on seeds that germinate well, which lives up to Park’s motto: “Your success and pleasure are more to Park than your money.” Nice guy!
Sow True Seed (Asheville, NC) – Request a free catalog
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that part of why I love Sow True Seed is their pretty catalog and seed packets, but alas there is more! Sow True Seed was founded in 2008 by lifelong gardener and food activist Carol Koury. The goal was to “preserve our shared botanical heritage and grow a new era of ecological wisdom.” Their mission statement is lovely, so I’ll share it with you in its exactness: “We support independent, regional agricultural initiatives that foster a vibrant, sustainable economy, and true food sovereignty. And we are committed to growing our awareness and actions to honor the heritage of our seeds, the diverse people, and places that have contributed to our collective abundance. Sow True will encourage equity in agriculture, making sure to promote all farmers’ voices.”
Kitazawa Seed Company (Salt Lake City, Utah) – Digital edition
Kitazawa is one of the many seed companies that have become recently absorbed by True Leaf Market (like Mountain Valley Seed Co.) but I feel like I still need to separate them here because they are the prime source of seeds if you’re looking for specific Asian vegetable seeds. Their collection is robust and their descriptions thoughtful. Their brochure is a learning experience in itself, so hopefully, they continue to produce it.
Harris Seeds (Rochester, NY) – Request a free catalog | Digital edition
Harris Seeds is another big seed company, raising the bar on germination with their full in-house seed germination lab, which is managed by a registered seed technician.
Seeds From Italy (Lawrence, KS) – Request a free catalog | Digital edition
If you want to grow Italian-native produce, this is a unique source for finding Franchi Seeds, Italy’s oldest family-owned seed company. Technically they are a distributor for Franchi, which was founded in 1783 and known for high germination rates, generous seed counts, and vigorous plants. And by generous seed counts, I’m not kidding. A packet of classic basil comes with 4,800 seeds because as they describe, “in Italy, people like to pick basil very young, so they seed it repeatedly and just pull the entire plants when they are about 5-6 inches tall.” That’s another reason why I like this company, they have great seed descriptions!
Osborne Quality Seeds (Mount Vernon, WA) – Request a free catalog | Digital edition
Osborne offers vegetable, flower, herb, and cover crop seeds, including both hybrid and open-pollinated varieties, available as certified organic, untreated, treated, and pelleted. They also offer a Spanish language catalog and Spanish-speaking customer service support for Spanish-speaking customers.
A few other seed companies I love, but haven’t come out with a 2023 catalog this year:
Hudson Valley Seed Company (Accord, NY)
Hudson Valley Seed Co. began as a free seed library and grew into a seed company in 2006 by co-founders Ken Greene and Doug Muller. The company has grown into a major supplier of heirloom and open-pollinated garden seeds to farmers and gardeners across the United States. They have beautiful seed packets that are designed by independent artists, which I adore!
Solstice Seeds (Hartland, VT)
This one is a bit niche, but my Vermont friends love Solstice Seeds. They focus their efforts on rare, diverse, and resilient seed varieties that are adapted to the Northeast and other short-season northern climates, though you can grow them in any climate. All of their seeds are open-pollinated, none of their seeds are “proprietary hybrids (F1), patented, PVP, or genetically modified (GMO),” and they use organic practices. If you grow in Vermont, you know how difficult it can be with such a short season, so check these out.
Strictly Medicinal Seeds (Williams, OR) – Request a free catalog
If you’re looking for “strictly medicinal” seeds, this is where you’ll find all the lovely medicinal herbs your heart could want. Seeds from this company, which started in 1985, are said to be “nourished by homegrown compost, pure mountain air, and water, love, and breath.” This is a great resource if you want to grow more niche herbs and roots, like Ashwagandha or St. John’s Wort.
A thing about seeds
Seeds are a major part of our food supply, but pure heirlooms are becoming less common every year. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, only 3% of U.S. corn varieties are considered “heirlooms” or “open-pollinated.” That means that the majority of corn grown today is genetically modified. This trend is happening worldwide, and it’s threatening the future of agriculture. Choosing where you get your seeds really does make a difference, so I encourage you to look into the companies you buy from.
And if you’re a lover of seed catalogs like I am, my suggestion would also be to buy a few seed packets from each of the companies above that you like, which will automatically get you on their catalog list. Some companies will only send to past customers when they have a limited run, so it’s your best strategy for making a bed of seed catalogs next January.
Did I miss any seed catalogs? Let me know in the comments below. Where do you buy your seeds?
Baker Creek also aka Rareseeds is located in Missouri not CA.
Just received seeds from Toad Stool Seeds. They came in clear plastic seed packs with the name of the plant. No planting instructions, No picture, no information what-so-ever about plant size, zone information, amount of sun needed etc. All that was included was a business card with their .com address for information and a coupon code for future purchases. I doubt I’ll be using that.
I would like a free vegetable catalog
I am in Maine, so I order most of my seeds from Fedco. They do an awesome job, with lots of specific info and advice. And their prices are reasonable. They back up their products, too! But I am looking forward to some new resources to find other seeds to try. I like to try a few new things every year.
Berlin Seeds in Millersberg, OH offers a catalog but no online website. 1-877-464-0892. Enjoy….
Would a free catalog
What do you recommend for High Desert in Central Oregon.
1/2 of the garden raised bed other half soil on each side of bed.
Also flower seeds for long flower bed. High temperature and erragation water.
Would love the info!
Can you send me the free seed catalogs ?
I wish you had added more seed companies for the southeast. Being in Florida means I can’t grow many of the seeds from the northern catalogs. Maybe a post with other companies that don’t have seed catalogs but sell tropical seeds would be great.
Yes you’re so right, finding ones that offer catalogs is the trick, and less companies are sending them out these days. I’ll put together another post for tropical seeds!
YES!! FL NATIVES & FL FOOD GARDEN SEEDS/plants
I have been looking for seeds for blue Forget-Me-Nots that grow only 4 – 6 inches high (preferably perrenials). In my flower bed built around 3 large tree stumps, I have a mountain scene. Coming down from the “mountains” I want to have a stream of blue forget-me-nots. Does anyone know of a place I can get these from?
Park Seed has one called Baby Blue Eyes that may be what you’re looking for.
Seeds n Such, Tomatofest, Tomato Growers, Urban Farmers are some of my favorites
No catalogs for California?
My thought also, since we produce most of the vegetables in the state
Baker Creek is actually CA! This list used to include others but they stopped offering seed catalogs. Some seed providers from CA without catalogs are:
Baker Creek is not located in CA.