Arrow-right Camera
News >  Features >  Washington Voices

It’s time to dig into those garden catalogs

It never fails to amaze me when our animals know what we need to do better than we do.

The flood of garden catalogs that has arrived in the mail recently has piled up in my reading spot. A couple of weeks ago on a cold night, our gray cat Earl seemed to know it was time for me to sit down and read them. He curled up in my lap for what turned out to be a four-hour nap. While he slept and I enjoyed his warmth, I had no choice but to review this year’s crop of catalogs. Here are a few of my favorites for this year.

Irish Eyes Garden Seeds is a family-owned company based in Ellensburg that specializes in organic seed potato, garlic and early season vegetables, as well as gardening supplies. Its specialty is a wonderful selection of more than 40 organic and disease resistant heirloom potato varieties noted for their ability to grow large crops even in small spaces.

Beyond potatoes the catalog offers a good selection of short season vegetable seed as well as garlic and onion sets. The Muisk porcelain garlic is now a mainstay in my garden.

Because the company specializes in short season crops, it also offers some very practical products to help extend the season and protect from frost. It sells a wide range of organic fertilizers, soil amendments and practical tools.

Territorial Seed Co. is based in Cottage Grove, Ore., and has been around since 1979. It offers a comprehensive seed list of vegetables, flowers, herbs, fruit, gardening supplies and books. The company tests the seeds in its research gardens in Cottage Grove to assure the varieties will do well in short seasons.

The catalog gives detailed growing instructions and potential pest control information for each type of vegetable. This takes some of the guesswork out of gardening.

This year it is offering nearly a dozen varieties of grafted tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Grafted vegetables are taking the gardening world by storm because they grow into stronger and larger plants that are more productive and disease resistant without using GMO technology. The WSU Spokane County Master Gardeners grew some last year here, and they were huge and prolific.

• With interest in growing edible landscapes, the Raintree Nursery catalog deserves a look. Located in Morton, Wash., in the foothills of the Cascades, this family-run nursery produces a wide range of fruits not commonly found in other catalogs. Want to try a paw paw, aronia or jostaberry? It also offers apples, pears, plums and even American persimmons that are hardy to USDA Zone 5.

While it specializes in plants that will do well in the grayer, cooler climate of the coast region, it does offer many varieties that are hardy to our climate. It has apple rootstock for grafting and offers some very good classes that would be worth a trip to Morton to take. Many of these fruit plants can be used in an edible landscape that is both beautiful and delicious.

Pat Munts can be reached at