Are the winter blues getting you down? Hot off the press the 2011 herb seed catalogs may sweep away those winter doldrums. They are full of growing tips, how-to’s, supplies, books and inspiration. Whether you are gardening in beds or containers these catalogs will speed you on your way.

I prefer real catalogs that you can peruse and compare at your leisure. I also prefer businesses and farms which specialize in herbs. After the holidays I sent off requests for new catalogs. One week later the first catalog arrived and the next six arrived the following week. Now that’s quick service! My favorites are described in separate posts so that you can compare and decide which one(s) is for you. It’s “thyme” to order your catalog now. And the bonus is that most are free. Order today!

Herbs are easy to grow with a little bit of planning, preparation and knowledge of the growing conditions they prefer. Most require at least 6 hours of sunlight a day and grow best in well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. With a catalog(s) to guide and inspire you, you can bring the magic of herbs to your home and garden and enjoy the luxury of fresh herbs every day. You can choose herbs for flavor, fragrance, herbal remedies, color, texture, crafts, weddings, gifts, insect repellents…to start.

In the catalogs below you will find descriptive information listed for each herb including recommended varieties and tips for growing herbs in garden beds, containers and window boxes; common and botanical names; organic seeds; suggested uses, history and folklore; garden themes; harvesting; garden supplies and tools; and books. Two offer dried culinary, tea and medicinal herbs and other herbal products.

Retail businesses/farms schedule events and workshops and one farm has a restaurant open for luncheons. Gift Certificates are often available.

Here are my favorites so far:

• Johnny’s Selected Seeds

• Richters Catalogue

• The Thyme Garden

• Nichols Garden Nursery

• Territorial Seed Company

You will need to know your plant hardiness or growing zone as well as your average frost dates for planning your herb garden and selecting appropriate herb plants for your geographic location. These zones are useful as a guide only since other factors such as exposure and soil can cause variations and create microclimates within a zone.

Here is my favorite link for finding your plant hardiness zone in your state:

Here is my favorite link for finding your average spring and fall frost dates:

Do you have a favorite catalog for herb seeds that you would like to share with us?

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