I can remember, as a boy, poring over the massive Sears catalog in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Some folks still called it “the wish book.”

I haven’t seen a Sears catalog in decades. I doubt they still send them out. These days the catalogs that get me excited don’t advertise toys or electronics, but seeds.

The catalog we rely on most is from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Based in Maine, Johnny’s offers a good selection of seeds and accessories. Their focus seems to be on commercial (but not industrial) scale farmers, like us.


The most entertaining catalog is from Fedco. Not only does Fedco offer a great selection of seeds, they also stuff their catalog full of facts and philosophy. It’s not slick and polished, but a good read cover-to-cover. We source some of our seeds from Fedco and have been very pleased with them. They’re also based in Maine.


Closer to home in Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. They’re based in Virginia, feature seeds from our area’s food culture and they share our ethic. So of course we get seeds from them as well.


We also buy seeds from Baker Creek, High Mowing, Kitazawa and Harris as well as from our local farm supply store.

We’ll do a seed inventory and place our orders in a few weeks. For now, I’m just enjoying flipping through the catalogs and dreaming of prolific, weed-free, deer-free gardens.



23 comments on “Catalogs

  1. shoreacres says:

    I do remember the “wish book,” and that’s exactly what I did with it: wish. Today, I don’t pour over seed catalogs, but I do go through every, single issue of the Vermont Country Store that shows up in my mail box. There are things available from them that delight my heart. They still carry my first lipstick. It was called “Tangee,” and was nearly clear. It supposedly took on whatever color was best for you, and was light, and non-obtrusive.

    Also good: candles in the shape of carolers; ribbon candy; elastic-banded bowl covers; bubble lights; Reeds butterscotch. Oh — and soap-on-a-rope in the shape of farm animals. No, I don’t need those, and wouldn’t buy those, but I still stop and look.


  2. avwalters says:

    I’looking forward to the catalogues, too. I still have a few spoys left in the orchard, and we’re planning on big things for the garden. There are even bee catalogues to consider! Something for everyone for the long nights of winter.


    • Bill says:

      We get the Dadant and Sons catalog. We’re fortunate that one of their few physical locations is just a few miles from here.

      I enjoy browsing through the seed catalogs. Even though we return primarily to our tried and true varieties every year, we do also do a little bit of experimenting. The catalogs help supply the ideas.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. here in Canada if you are a sears member, you still get their catalog and yes, they still make and send their Christmas wish book across the country, now that brings back memories 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sue says:

    I found out about Fedco two years ago and thoroughly enjoy their catalog–and their seeds.
    There’s a ton of good info, and even some chuckles in there. Makes for a pleasant mid-winter read.


  5. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, dreaming of prolific, weed free, critter free gardens? Yeah, aren’t we all. Every year I have a picture in my mind of how the garden will look the next year. The best laid plans seem to change as they come out in the real world for me. I have noticed that every thing is up for change until the seeds or plants are actually in the ground. My Winter plans for the garden turn out to be only suggestions as the Spring season unfolds. It all seems to work out for the best.

    Have a great seed buying day.


    • Bill says:

      I’ve been mapping out next years gardens, but how they’ll actually go in can change right up till the time of planting. But I do enjoy browsing the seed catalogs and dreaming. A nice way to spend a winter evening.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The Sears catalogue is still going strong in Canada, delivered all over the country if you’re a member, or if you’ve ordered from them in the last year. There are retail outlets in ever small town and village that act as depots for Sears, where you can pick up what you ordered. There is an online version too of course, and I sometimes wonder when the print catalogue will disappear, since online shopping is becoming so prevalent. Seed catalogues though, are works of art, both visually and in a lterary sense, and so beguiling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      How interesting that Sears still sends out the wish book in Canada. Someday catalogs will probably all be on line, and I suppose that will be a good thing. But when that comes I’ll miss the old catalogs.


  7. BeeHappee says:

    We saw couple old Sears catalogs at the Old Wisconsin Museum, it was neat browsing through them.
    I am sitting here also on a rainy December solstice, reading exactly that – a seed catalog. 🙂 It was my Christmas present to self, and I do not even have a garden. Just neat to look at giant Sakurajima radish, and Nadmorska rootabaga, which apparently comes from Lithuania, all those croockneck squashes, and the pink oxheart tomato reminded of my mom’s price and happiness when she showed me the first oxheart she grew in her greenhouse. As far as I am concerned, seed catalogs could replace all the holy books in the world, and we all would be happy campers. Thank you, Bill, and happy Solstice and Christmas to you all.


    • Bill says:

      Merry Christmas, happy holidays and all best wishes to you and yours as well!
      I’d forgotten this morning that the Solstice is today. Also our son’s birthday (I did remember that).
      Today nature turns the corner and begins her march back toward Spring. A wonderful time of year.

      We like to save room in the gardens for some experiments. This year we’ll be trying (among other things) Painted Serpent, an Armenian cucumber that is actually a melon. That excites me more than anything that would be in a Sears catalog. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nowadays, so much of shopping has gone On-line all merchandisers display their wares on their Websites.I would conjecture that it might not be cost effective to print glossy catalogs based on the possible incremental sales that might generate.



    • Bill says:

      I agree with you. At a conference recently I talked to a representative from Johnny’s about that very subject. Why do you spend so much time and money on the catalog, I asked, especially since most people order on line now. He said their cost was significant but that they’ve determined that the physical catalog drives sales. I expect catalogs will be things of the past in the near future, but for now they’re still effective in some markets.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Looking through the Sears and Penny catalogues were so exciting. It was kind of like buying lottery tickets – you got to imagine and wish for as long as you wanted. 🙂 I love the Fedco catalogue because there is a lot to learn from it besides the option of ordering seeds. Happy garden dreaming, Bill. 🙂


    • Bill says:

      I was really pleased to discover Fedco’s catalog. It’s a joy to read and they carry lots of great varieties of seeds. Obviously I have to take into account their Maine orientation but we’ve been very pleased with the seeds we’ve gotten from them.

      Liked by 1 person

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