Jan 302016
Comstock Ferre & Co.

Comstock Ferre & Co. in Wethersfield’s historic district. (Michael McAndrews, Courant file photo)

Routines can be great.  They help you be able to predict what is going to happen and when.  They save on brain power, enabling you to not really think, but just do.  In gardening, there are some routines that we accept will always be the same.

  • Winter will always turn into spring, and fall into winter.
  • Rabbits and deer will find their way into your garden, or keep trying.  Year after year after year.  Even though you chase them out, year after year after year.
  • Planting takes place before harvesting.

There are other things about gardening that we also assume will always be the same.  Consider your source of plants and seeds.  Whether it be ones you save yourself, get from the local hardware store, or order online, once you have found your Regulars you often do not put a lot of thought into where you are going to be looking once it comes time to think about this year’s garden once again.

What if what had once ‘always been there’ was no longer there?

While going through the list of garden catalogs, updating links, I came across an broken link.  My first thoughts were of a great loss, an old seed company having gone the way of many such companies over the years.  No longer to sustain themselves in a culture where the public wants organic and local foods but often does not grow it themselves.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

Upon further searching I found out good news:

The historic Comstock, Ferre & Co. in Old Wethersfield will soon transform into an organic and non-GMO food market and café but retain its roots as a seed company.

The Hartford Courant article talks about “the latest incarnation for Comstock, Ferre & Co., which was founded in 1811 and is the nation’s oldest continuously operated seed company.”  As the years have passed, our culture and economy have changed.  While we may think of seed companies being immune to such changes, they are not.  They also must be allowed to change and stay modern, or else go way of many other such companies that used to common names to gardeners.

With the addition of the food market and cafe, they will be able to show customers and locals what the seeds actually grow into, what they smell and feel like, and ultimately how they can taste.

Sometimes a change in routines can be a good thing.  Hopefully this new growth in the business will help the Wethersfield, Conn. seed company continue on for many more years.



Jan 282016

mailbox mail

It is that time of year again.  Garden catalogs are beginning to show up in the mail box.  Soon it will be time to get my seeds out to start for this upcoming year’s garden.

With the break in gardening last year I am sure that several of my saved seeds are too old to use with good results in this upcoming year.  At times I can take the chance with older seeds, not requiring a high germination rate.  Other times I need to know that most of what I plant will come up; that is where I find myself this year.

Several catalogs have already found their way to my mail box and are awaiting previewing.  The tough choice ahead is to now narrow down the choices as my garden only has so much room, and I only have so much time, to grow all the potential beauties.

I have updated the Garden Catalogs page, containing over 30 different gardening catalogs you can request. Some are specialty catalogs (ex: heirloom) or focused on a particular part of the country.  Some are catalogs you can request through the mail, while others are online only.

If your favorite catalog is not on the list, let me know and I will look into adding it.

Happy Shopping!

Save Money On Plants And Seeds – using coupon codes

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Save Money On Plants And Seeds – using coupon codes
Feb 192013


I just competed one of my goals! I ordered plants and some seeds. This was a goal that I have had for a few weeks and kept putting off.  However, seeing as my “8 weeks before last frost” date occurs this week I really needed to do this.  How do I know this?  Well, it is on my garden calendar.  If you didn’t make one or are not sure where to find your dates, I would suggest looking first with your local extension office.  Or check out some of the links I shared during the series about making a garden calendar and adding frost dates.  What I missed was my “order seeds” date.  I think I’ll have to highlight that date next year.  =)

Tomato seeds need to be started 8 weeks before planting. As I had put it off so long I decided to stop by the local hardware store.  They usually carry seeds.  When I asked the guy, I felt a bit silly as there were snow flurries outside.  “Do you have any vegetable seeds yet?”  Of course, the answer was “No.  We get them when they send us a shipment of them.”  Not exactly helpful.  However it narrowed down the choices I had.  If the store did not have them, then I would go home and order them.  

My plan for the day was to submit my order to Gurney’s for strawberry, blackberry and blueberry plants.  Adding in two packets of seeds for tomatoes was not going to chance the order much.  Yes, I would have to pay shipping but I was also going to use a coupon code.  The “$x off your order of $XX or more” offer came on the front of my seed catalog which I had requested at the beginning of the year.  I have also seen this same offer for Gurney’s several different places on the web.  So, if you didn’t receive a catalog from them you may still be able to find a coupon code.

In the end I save 50% off my order, before shipping.  Not bad for having to order seeds.

I have seen other companies offer similar codes.  For example, Burpee is offering $10 off your order of $50 or more.  This is one reason I like to order catalogs, often they offer codes along with the catalog.  I also like to look for new plants offered.  I will also be ordering bulb for my flower beds soon … once I narrow down all the beautiful choices.  And, yes, I will be using a code to save money on my order.

As a side note, this works best if you are not company loyal.  In the past I have ordered my heirloom seeds from a particular company.  While looking at the Gurney catalog I noticed they had heirloom tomato plants.  By being willing to use a different company I was able to combine what would have been two separate orders (fruit plants and vegetable seeds) into one and use a coupon to have 50% off.  This may not always be an option, but if you are willing to look at different companies you will be more likely to find a deal that will work for you.

What are some of your favorite money saving ideas?  Have you  ordered your seeds yet?  Or are you planning to purchase them, or plants, locally when it is closer to gardening time?

Dec 062012

Disclaimer:  I am in no way endorsing the companies listed below.  If I list a company I have personally ordered from before, I will make sure to say so in the details.  Please use your discression before ordering from a new company.

Last week I posted links to over 7 free garden catalogs.  Here are a few more I found but didn’t have time to post then. Most of these are printed catalogs, some you can order a printed version or look at it online, and a few are online only.

  1. Urban Farmer Seeds – coming in December.  “Urban Farmer’s seed catalog offers popular  vegetable seed varieties including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, peas,  beans and many more. Our garden catalog includes organic, heirloom, and  hybrid seed types for every home garden.”
  2. neseed – “Carries Seeds in Bulk for Commercial Farming and Seed Packets for Home Gardening. “
  3. De Vroom Garden Products – there are several catalogs available for free digital downloads.
  4. Botanical Interests – their catalogs should arrive mid-January.  They are currently offering free shipping on orders over $25 and a free desk calendar for orders over $50 (if ordered before Dec. 31, 2012).
  5. PW (Proven Winners) – I have used some of their Idea Books before.  Great photos and ideas.  The link will take you to a page with several different catalog downloads that are free.  You might also find these at your local garden stores.
  6. Comstock Garden Seeds – provider of hierloom seeds
  7. David Austin Roses – “We are happy to mail our US catalog to US and Canadian addresses ONLY free of charge. David Austin’s ‘Handbook of Roses’ includes over 200 varieties of roses: fragrant English Roses, old roses, ramblers, climbing roses and modern roses. The catalog is illustrated in full color with pictures of roses, rose gardens and arrangements of roses cut for the home. It also contains advice on selecting roses for special conditions, together with planting and cultivation information. We’re sure that if you love roses, you’ll find our catalog interesting.”
  8. Swallow Tail Seeds – this is technically an online seed catalog, according to their website.  They are located in northern California.
  9. Forest Farm – an online version and printed version of their catalog are available.  The printed version is shipped in to address in the U.S. free of charge, but there is a shipping fee for those in Canada.
  10. Totally Tomato – they have a larger selection than what their name leads you to believe.  Their front page along lists peppers, berries,eggplant, herbs and more.
  11. The Online Greehouse – this is a family run busineess in the northeast.  From their website: ” My goal is to give people the experience and pride of growing their own vegetables, herbs and flowers.” Not only do they offer seeds, but also supplies such as posts and soil.
  12. Johnny’s Selected Seeds – the 2013 catalog will be available in December 2012
  13. Sand Hill Preservation – “You may request a printed catalog for 2013 by contacting us by regular mail, e-mail, or by telephone. Please give us your complete name and mailing address (including Zip Code). ”  Their catalogs include: poultry catalog, seed and root catalog, sweet potato catalog and a books catalog
  14. High Mowing Seeds – they also offer the catalog in PDF format for downloading or an online virtual catalog
  15. Appalachian Seeds – “Stay tuned for the updated catalogue!”
  16. Wild Garden Seed – “We are an organic seed and vegetable farm in the Pacific Northwest. We produce farm-original varieties of many salad greens, vegetables, herbs and a few flowers.”
  17. Hazzards Greenhouse – their catalog is free for commercial growers; for non-commercial growers it is $12.95
  18. Jim’s Hostas – online catalogs; one for seeds and one for plants
  19. Reimer Seeds  – online catalog
  20. Pepper Joe  – peppers, peppers, and more peppers

Did you find a “new to you” catalog that you are excited to look through?  Are there more catalogs you know of that I missed?

Dec 012012

Among all the boring bills and junk mail I found this wonderful surprise yesterday.  Just a reminder that if you haven’t ordered your catalogs, and want to, now is the time.  Some are expected now, while others will not come till Janurary.

To request the above pictured catalog, click here.  Their website says, “A source for over 600 heirloom and open-pollinated varieties, including many new introductions from our Preservation Collection. Catalogs are sent via bulk mail and take 2-3 weeks to arrive. We mail once a week on Thursdays.”  This is the company I have ordered from for the past 5 years or so.  I have been happy with their selections and service.

Burpee is another company from whom I buy seeds, though usually I get theirs from the local store.  You can request a free catalog from there by filling out the form here.  They begin mailing their catalogs in late December.  If you plan on ordering form them you might also want to go ahead and sign up for their email list to recieve a $5 off $30 coupon code.

Something to keep in mind when ordering from a nursery, for some plants it is best to order from a nursery in your Zone.  This really goes for plants, though can apply to certain seeds too.  If a plant is used to growing in a colder climate, for example, moving it to a hot Zone may shock it.  To find a nursery near you, for cases like this, I would suggest searching online, calling your local Master Gardener group, or talking to someone who grows plants locally.  Even a local vegeatable farmer will know of others who grow ornatmenal grasses or fruit trees.

About.com has a great article written by Stacy Fisher, “48 Free Seed Catalogs and Plant Catalogs.” Though this was written for 2012 I’m pretty sure most of them are still relavent. If you aren’t sure who to order from, or are looking for a different company to try, you will want to check out her article.  The list includes catalogs in a wide variety of areas, from the traditional garden plants to tropical plants to water gardens

Here are links to a few from her list (updated as needed):


The above picture is of their 2012 catalog.  Their website has a form to fill out to recieve their 2013 catalog and says, “Please look for the new 2013 Spring catalog in your mailbox late December. ” This is free if you live in the U.S., but there is a fee if you don’t.

Bluestone Perennials – this is what I meant by finding a new catalog you can use.  Bluestone Perennials sells ornamental grasses, perennials, shrubs, and mums.  As I’m redoing my front flower bed and looking for new perennials to place there, this is exactly what I was looking for.

Here is another one I am looking forward to looking through. Brent and Becky’s bulbs have an online and a print version of their catalog.  The current print version is for Summer/Fall 2012.  There is also a deal currently going on.  “50% OFF ALL REMAINING GARDEN BULBS AND COZY COMPANIONS UNTIL MONDAY DEC. 3RD AT 6PM EST.”  If you are looking to order some bulbs and are a bit behind doing so {clears throat} this may be the perfect opportunity to do so.

(picture from Morguefile.com)

Burnt Ridge Nursery & Orchard is another source for a non-vegetable catalog you can request.  Looking for fruit or nut trees, berry bushes, ornatmentals or native for the northwest, then this will be what you want.  Just remember, for some of these it is best to order from a nursery in your Zone.  It is still fun to look, though, and you never know what you may find that will work for where you are.

(picture from Morguefile.com)

Another company I have heard good things about, but from whom I have never ordered, is Southern Exposure.  They are another company who sells heirloom variety plants.  In addition to seeds, their catalog has “seasonal garden tips, disease and insect control, seed saving, and detailed variety descriptions.”  According to their website, shipping of their catalog starts in December and should take 2 – 4 weeks to arrive.  This catalog is free if you live in the U.S.

Here are more links, not found on the above mentioned list.  (Please let me know if they are there and I just missed them):

Gurney’s Seed and Nursery Co. – “Receive a FREE copy of the Gurney’s Seed & Nursery catalog PLUS a coupon for $25 OFF by simply filling out the information below.”  The coupon is for $25 off a $50 purchase.

Park Seed – click on button in upper left hand corner to request a free catalog

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Henry Field’s Seed & Nursery Co.

Seeds of Change