Monday, December 19, 2011

Seed Catalog: Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Johnny’s catalog is designed for two different types of food growers—backyard and commercial or market.  Because of that, this catalog contains varieties and comments that you won’t find in most other catalogs.  For example, in the “Greenhouse” subsection of eight pages of tomato seeds, you’ll see “Rebelski aka DRW 7749 (F1) … The Best greenhouse tomato for fresh market.”

Johnny’s 206-page catalog—which is perfect bound like a small book—contains a wealth of information that serious gardeners can mine to improve their wisdom and skills.  Before each vegetable category appears a column labeled “Growing Information.”  The one about tomatoes has 16 entries: determinate and indeterminate (definitions); growing seedlings; transplanting outdoors; fertilizer; diseases; blossom end rot; insect pests; harvest; storage; days to maturity; seeds to plants ratio; average planting rate, seed specs; packet (number of seeds); and germination chart showing optimum temperature range.

Scattered through the catalog are other charts—some of primary interest to market growers but containing all sorts of information that can give a backyard gardener perspective—and appreciation of the knowledge required to successfully produce vegetables sold at farmers’ markets or grocery stores.  One page gives “Seasonal Salad Ideas for Your Markets.”  Another page contains “Glossary of Terms,” “Life Cycle Codes,” “Vegetable Disease Codes,” and “Hardiness Zone Chart.”

The catalog also has large sections of herbs (20 pages) and flowers (36 pages).  Johnny’s encourages commercial growers to diversify to meet the changing interests of buyers—and you’ll likely see the result when you check out offerings during your next visit to your local farmers’ market.

I’m utterly fascinated—as you can tell—by all the information in this catalog but even more so by its “Tools and Supplies” section.  Many of the offerings are designed for commercial growers, such as a precision seeder that holds 7.3 quarts of pea, corn, or bean seeds.  If you’re hankering for a broadfork, Johnny’s has three sizes for tilling and one for harvesting.  I had never heard of broadforks until I saw them here.

Finally, I want to yell, “Bingo!” because one page lists four long-handled, high-quality weeding hoes: a 4-inch wire weeder, a 3¾-inch collinear hoe, a 5-inch trapezoid hoe with replaceable blade, and a 3¼-inch stirrup hoe.   Hoe, hoe, hoe, hoe—maybe you should give a hint to someone you know who is dying to give you a super-special gift.

I’ve bought seeds from this company.  Prices are reasonable: Celebrity Hybrid (40 seeds), $3.45; Juliet Hybrid (15), $3.45; Better Boy Hybrid, not available; Brandywine (40), $3.45; postage/handling, $7.25 on orders from $10.01 to $30.  I also like the idea that it’s an employee-owned company.

If you wish to check out the online catalog, CLICK HERE.

And while you’re spying out Johnny’s website, check out the Video section.  Want to see how to use a collinear hoe?  Watch the video.  Want to know how to use a row cover?  Watch the video.  The video list is long, but, hey, it’s winter and evenings are long.

Notes:  (1) You can order a print catalog through most of the catalog websites.  (2) Mention of specific products, brands, or companies is not intended as an endorsement by the University of Maryland.  (3) I do not receive consideration of any kind for mentioning products, brands, or companies in my postings.  The seed catalogs I review are those that have arrived in our mailbox unsolicited.

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