I've taken the liberty of doing a little research for you while stocking up on this season's vegetable and herb seeds. I now have enough seed to plant a 5-acre mini-farm. Unfortunately, I have a tiny urban lot that's half covered with river rock. But hope never dies in the seasoned gardener's heart -- my plan is to completely eradicate the grass lawn, and eventually the rock, and turn it all over to flowers and edibles.
A bit of terminology: Seeds referred to as "organic" may or may not be from organically certified crops (check the specifications of each individual grower), but are generally grown with no pesticides or chemical fertilizers and are never genetically engineered hybrids. The term "heirlooms" refers to varieties of open-pollinated plants whose seeds have been saved over time to preserve an early, non-hybridized variety.
Most catalogs are free; some are not. Call or check online for specifics. Here are some outstanding sources of organic and heirloom herb and vegetables seeds:
Artistic Gardens / Le Jardin du Gourmet
P.O. Box 751, Department 1
St. Johnsbury Center, VT. 05863-0075
Offers sample packets of most varieties for 30 cents so you don't have to buy an entire package of seed; seeds from around the world.
The Cook's Garden
P.O. Box 535
Londonderry, VT 05148
Fifty kinds of lettuce including fall and winter mixes and a lovely seed mix, Beet Mix Cook's Rainbow for small gardens. Free e-newsletter with recipes and garden tips.
P.O. Box 245
W. Elizabeth, PA 15088-0245
Family-run Pennsylvania farming operation; huge list of heirloom vegetables.
Irish Eyes with a Hint of Garlic
P.O. Box 307
Thorp, WA 98946
Great grower's guide offers how-tos for growing potatoes, garlic, beans, and peas in small spaces. For a limited time, free seeds if ordering online.
Johnny's Selected Seeds
184 Foss Hill Road
Albion, ME 04910
One of the larger growers, Johnny's offers many varieties of oriental and Asian vegetable seeds.
526 N. Fourth Ave., Tuscon, 85705-8540
Tucson, AZ 85719
A nonprofit botanical research and preservation organization offering seeds from crops traditionally grown by native peoples in the Southwest and Mexico. Valuable for understanding seed saving, native species, heirlooms of the region.
3272 Fleur De Lis Court
San Jose, CA 95132
Specializing in salad and braising varieties of greens, rare and unusual; Web site offers monthly seed tips for the "average gardener."
Redwood City Seed Company
P.O. Box 361
Redwood, CA 94064
Outstanding for their huge selection of hot peppers, pepper seed collections. "The world's oldest alternative seed company, since 1971."
Seeds of Change
P.O. Box 15700 Santa Fe, NM 87506
Their organic test gardens are at Rancho La Paz, just one hour north of Santa Fe, so their seeds are well suited to our high desert climate. Check out their beautiful biodiversity posters online.
Seeds Trust High Altitude Gardens
4150 B Black Oak Drive
Hailey, ID 83333
Seeds from around the world tested in gardens at 6,000 feet for adaptability, sustainability, flavor and beauty.
Seeds West Garden Seeds
317 14th Street NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104
Sell red worms by mail to build soil in your garden; open-pollinated and heirloom varieties, especially those suited to the harsh climates and poor soils of areas of the West and Southwest.
130 Irene St.
Torrington, CT 06790-6658
An old standard, nicely illustrated catalog with good explanations for the beginning vegetable gardener.
P.O. Box 158
Cottage Grove, OR 97424-0061
Many certified organic varieties, good tools and soil amendments.