First Seed Catalog but now a question : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I just received my first seed catalog of the year (2001) It is a GURNEY'S from South Dakota. Has anyone ever ordered from them, good/bad? What is your favorite seed catalog and why? We are looking for wind break trees (we are in NE where the wind NEVER stops) and fruit trees as well as the usual stuff. Help=husband says order some now. Where from and which ones? We want everygreens for the wind break but are open to ideas. Thanks=margie

-- Margie B (, December 29, 2000


Margie, I order at least 1 pkg from Gurney's every year. They are very good about getting you what you ordered in good shape. (Never ordered plants) I get fruit trees and other plants from local nurseries, this makes sure that I can grow them in my area although my area is very forgiving. I've heard good things about Johnny's. annette

-- annette (, December 29, 2000.

Marge We live In Nebraska and we have the best luck with Gurneys. WE like other seed companies also. But we just have more success with them. Cindy

-- Cindh H. (, December 29, 2000.

Have had good luck with them, also with Henry Fields whose catalogue is similar. Also, they charge a flat shipping rate, which is very fair.

-- Christina (, December 29, 2000.

Fruit trees-Bear Creek Nusery is my favorite.Good variety,good prices,good quality and good people to deal with.They have root stock and scionwood for do your own,as well.The have some windbreak trees to

Seedlings-State forestry Division or nusery in PA & now I can't remember.Will try to jog my brain later on.

Veg,flower,and herb Seeds in small quantities,reasonably priced, for trialing,which is what I like to do,first-PineTree Gardens For herbs- Jardin Du Gourmet

Also like Nichols & Johnny's prices fair and service good.

I have had companies with seed that did not germinate well for me,and I know what I'm doing.If it was only once,I didn't hold it against them.If it was twice,I stopped buying from them.I have had no problems with the above companies.

There are others that I used to buy from,but they got too pricey.

-- sharon wt (, December 29, 2000.

I've heard Dear Creek Nursery mentioned about an address? DW

-- DW (, December 29, 2000.

Have always had good luck with all the seed catalogs.The trick is to find the variety of whatever vegetable you like, and then once I know that, I order from whoever is cheapest. Eight years ago I ordered 20 lombardy poplars from Henry Fields. When they came, they were 3 foot twigs with a few hair roots on the bottom...they are now gorgeous 30 foot tall trees in a beautiful straight line down the driveway! But my favorite seed catalogs for browsing, would have to be Burpees, of course (you can warm your hands over those beautiful pictures of summer!) Territorial Seeds, and Pinetree. If you order your trees now, they will hold them until the weather is better, they won't ship when they know they'll freeze in transit, so take your time and make your decisions. If you got a Gurneys', you'll get Henry Fields, Parks, and some others...they share their customer lists. Hope this helps! Hope you have a wonderful new year. Kathie

-- Kathie in Western Washinton (, December 30, 2000.

Hmmmmm Ann says I march to a different drummer.She must be right. I have ordered from Guerney's and was satisfied but my favorites are some of the smaller seed companies with good selections of oddball varieties. Willhite Seed

Sandhill Preservation Center 1878 230th St Calamus,Ia.52729 catalog also has rare poultry

J.L.Hudson,Seedsman Star Rt.2,Box 337 La Honda,Ca. 94020

all three of these companies give very generous amounts of seed for the money.Sandhill often throws in a few extra packets as gifts.

-- JT in NW Fl. (, December 30, 2000.

Thanks all, Do you have a number or sight for Bear Creek Nurs.? or Pine Tree? Margie

-- Margie B (, December 30, 2000.

Bear Creek Nursery

Bear Creek's site doesn't seem to have much info available and I've heard that they have gone out of business. I hope this isn't true as I loved buying plants from them.

Here is another link stating that they are going out of business.

Pinetree Garden Seeds

Pinetree is a great catalog, IMO. Great prices and great selection.

Happy Gardening. :-)

-- Trath (, December 30, 2000.

Raintree Nusery is another one to try.Not as extensive a listing as Bear Creek,but good stock.

Musser Forest is the one in PA.

I'm really dismayed to here about Bear Creek.They were my favorite.

-- sharon wt (, December 30, 2000. is the link.not sure why the above isn't getting you there.Must have typed it in wrong.

Musser Forest one I can't access either.Phone # is 724 465 5685

-- sharon wt (, December 30, 2000.

My favorites for are Pinetree and Bear Creek also. Bear Creek's prices are rock bottom, and the quality is good. They do not make outrageous claims in order to sell the tree! Pinetree also has very good prices and a great selection of everything. Both specialize in varieties that can handle the cold weather and short seasons.

-- Rebekah (, December 30, 2000.

I like Territorial Seed Co. (from Oregon) and Abundant Life (Port Townsend, Washington) for good quality regional seed around here. I've enjoyed doing business with both companies for a few years.

-- sheepish (, December 30, 2000.

I order Chinese veggies from Stokes. Like Shumway. This year I got one I haven't had before-Farmer Seed and Nursery.

-- Cindy (, December 30, 2000.

Have ordered from Gurney's in the past and been pleased. My advice for what kind of tree would be blue spruce. We have some kind of evergreens planted behind our house that helps with the wind, but they are not "solid" trees. (Alot of space between branches). The last wind storm we had knocked two tops out. I plan on planting some blue spruce sometime. Nice good looking trees that usually grow into nice looking trees without trimming them. Good luck.

-- Michael W. Smith in North-West Pennsylvania (, December 31, 2000.

I am less than impressed with Gurney's and usually recycle it promptly on receiving. We ordered from them 35 years ago and the results were disappointing. Many arrived with roots so badly broken, they couldn't survive. Others had collar damage and never grew. However, two plants survived and are huge and fairly impressive today - a crab apple and a lilac.

My own preference is for Jung's -- . Their prices are reasonable, and they have a moneyback/replacement guarantee for a year. They have a lot of plants that are suitable to windbreak applications.

I also believe that the Arbor Day Foundation sells little seedling windbreak packages --? Of course, the plants are tiny and take proportionately long to amount to anything.

I'd also like to suggest you consult your local area County agent. Ours has had handouts on planting windbreaks for our locale for years. The idea being to plant evergreens at the back, and the lower species to your side from the prevailing winds -- mixed species such as mountain ash,elderberries, maples, and even hardy roses were suggested for us in No. Wisconsin -- having the advantage of encouraging bird life that would help out with insects and being rather insect unattractive themselves.

I have two rows of windbreak planted here by my brother about 15 years ago, and they are planted too close -- the lower limbs of the evergreens are dying out because they don't get enough light. Some 60 year old spruce have branches all the way to the ground because they are out in full sun. You may want to plant short-lived trees between the longer term trees to take up the slack til they're big enough. Cedars are very useful for this around here, except that the deer munch them into free-form coat racks, so unless you don't have deer, those are less useful. Canadian Hemlock is also useful around here, especially since you can keep it trimmed to hedge heights with work and it is less attractive to the deer (but our deer will eat nearly anything!).

-- Julie Froelich (, December 31, 2000.

I think its a good idea to buy trees/plants grown as close to home as possible; try to find a nursery with good references. I dont care much for Gurney's either; have bought many plants in the past that didn't do anything; their seeds are fine. I buy large lots of trees from Musser; have had excellent service and quality; and their catalog is good. Does your state offer tree seedlings for residents? I think most states grow seedlings for a very low bulk price availiable to just people who live in that state. I personally only buy open-pollinated seeds for my garden; don't believe in hybrids, and we grow most all our own veggies/most of our fruit, so lean toward the companies that offer the most variety in heirloom seeds.

I am very upset to hear about Bear Creek!! Does anyone have any more info about what happened? Is it for sale? The wealth of ancient varities they carried was astonishing......I dont know if giving away all that much was a good idea?!

-- Earthmama (, December 31, 2000.

The Gurney's of today is not the Gurney's of yeaterday or tomorrow. With these big seed companies, only the name remains the same as they are sold to multinational corporations. Couple of years ago I noticed the similarity of a variey description in two different catalogs I was perusing. Then I noticed the catalog number was the same! I like to order from smaller, family-owned outfits. Then if there's a problem, you can talk to somebody who cares. With the big companies, you're apt to talk to somebody who knows nothing, cares not at all, and actually works for an independent customer relations company, fielding questions for several different companies! Nursery stock is the real test. E.g., Mellingers is ok for supplies, and (so far) for seeds, but I'll never order plants from them again. Ditto with Henry Field. It's important to remember (their catalogs are not going to tell you this) that they are not in the business of producing seeds and trees - just selling them. OK, I'll get off my soapbox.

-- Sam in W.Va. (, January 01, 2001.

Here in NW Washington our soil conservation group offers trees native to this area. They sell them in bundles and the trees are small but they are very reasonable in price. I planted forty last year and many are doing well. I would check with your County Extension Office to see if there is a similar program in your area.

-- Darcy in NW WA (, January 01, 2001.

Margie, Earthmamma is right about purchasing your windbreak trees close to home, don't mail order them, they will not have as good a survival ratio. My favorite windbreak evergreen tree is Austrian pine, it's available through your local county extension agent office in the spring ( the blue spruce mentioned is an extremely slow grower), the deer won't touch it, it grows over a foot a year, is very resistant to bugs and disease, and is very drought tolerant, but doesn't like it's roots to stay too wet. I have planted over two hundred of them over the years, and we have wind all the time too. They cost about 8 dollars for a pack of 25 from the county people, mine I planted 6 years ago are now over 7 feet tall and gaining in feet added per year now, sometimes it is two feet per year. Go to your county extension office and ask about the Austrian pine seedling packets, every county has an extesion office, even city ones, so that shouldn't be too hard, good luck with the digging!!!

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, January 03, 2001.

I have ordered from Gurneys and Henry Fields and the seeds were fine. The prices are much more to my liking than Burpee or Parks.

-- Lynn (, January 03, 2001.

My Goodness, do we have a subject here??!! Well, Christina is correct even more than she knows. In fact, Gurney's and Henry Fields are actually the same company, albeit with different addresses. They specialize in cheap seed, most of which is acceptable. Compare them to a "surplus store" - they grow none of their own seed. At the other end, you have outfits such as Stokes, which is huge and caters primarily to the commercial growers, but also sells to the little guy. A little more pricey, but impeccable quality. For the home gargener/small commercial outfit, I suggest (in no particular order) Johnny's, Harris, Pinetree, Fedco, Territorial, Seeds of Change, Southern Exposure, Irish Eyes & a Hint of Garlic {potatoes and garlic, as if you didn't know}, Seed Saver's Exchange {you should join!}, Parks, and a few others. Nursery stock, ie. trees etc. - it is my opinion that Miller's in Canandaigua NY is top drawer. I also like Miller's, but I prefer the northern stock, since we are in Maine. I have quite a few tomato seed available (maybe 40 varities) since I am a certifiable cookoo bird in that area. Send me a SASE (e-mail first for types and availability) and I'll send a few seeds of open pollenated heirloom tomatoes. Ain't gardening fun??!! GL!

-- Brad (, January 03, 2001.

I agree with most of Brad's recommendations, having purchased seed over the years from all the companies that he mentioned, at one time or another. Now we buy most of our seeds (and trees) from Fedco and other northern companies, trying to give our business to smaller companies that will tell you how and where their seed is grown--none of them grow all of there seed and most buy it from the same wholesaler/growers. We also like Bill McKentley's nursery in northern New York, and Jung's here in Wisconsin for fruit trees. I don't buy trees from local stores as they usually sell the varieties with names that are familiar to people instead of varieties that will grow in our climate, and they seldom tell you what the rootstock is that the apples or other grafted trees are growing on. Much better buying from a reputable mail order dealer, unless you can drive to one of the Jung stores, or similar store. But avoid the typical garden center, unless they are better than average.


-- Jim (, January 03, 2001.

Try Fedco Seeds P.O. Box 520 Waterville, Maine 04903 (207)873-7333. Fedco has a large selection of open pollinated and rare variety (as well as hybrid) seeds. Some of the seeds are grown by Maine Growers. Packat sizes are generous and the prices are the lowest I have seen. I have had excellent results with their seeds.

-- Marty Palange (, January 04, 2001.

My goodness! I didn't realize that Johnny's, Pinetree, and Fedco had such a following. They are all Maine companies, undoubtedly descendants of the veterans at Little Round Top! (If that was cryptic, read "Killer Angels", then rent the movie "Gettysburg". Ye shall not be disappointed, unless you think Lee was smarter than Longstreet). But I digress, as I am wont to do! Here's the kicker. Both Pinetree and Fedco offer very good inexpensive seed. But the VERY UNUSUAL part is that they (drum roll!!) DO NOT charge for shipping and handling, which is a silly way to "tax" unthinking socialists/democrats (was that from the Dept of Redundancy Dept?). Anyway, they usually offer the best value. I like and order from others, usually for hard to find stuff. Must go. We Maineiacs are forced to have lobster for supper, given that we can't afford hamburger, and they must be cooked. GL!

-- Brad (, January 05, 2001.

I can't address the best seed catalog, although I get several I seem to find myself at the local market buying seeds when it's time to plant. Kind of like to support the locals, ya know.

Regarding the windbreak - See if you can find your county Conservation District. Sometimes it is housed with the Natural Resources Conservtion Service or Farm Services Agency, if not they should be able to give you a phone number. Look in the phone book under USDA. The Districts in Michigan, I work for one for several years, have spring and fall tree sales. Our trees were raised in a nursery within 100 miles of our office and were lifted just days prior to being shipped to the district. Quite often there is a forester on staff at the district, if not the NRCS office has tons of info on how to plant windbreaks and will often help you lay out a plan. You need to plant several rows of trees, at certain heights and of trees that will start fast and those that will be windbreak height when the fast growing trees dy out. Please try to find the district, there is so much information there and you will benefit many other ways besides just a windbreak. Good Luck!

-- Betsy K (, January 05, 2001.

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