Pinetree Garden Seeds: 2013 Catalog Review

If you followed me at Apartment Farm, you know I’m a big fan of Pinetree Garden Seeds. I look forward to receiving the new catalog each year almost as much as I look forward to Christmas. It’s arrival is certainly a welcome event. And lo and behold, what did I find on the kitchen counter last night when I got home from work? The new catalog! And they’ve got quite the new look –

Pinetree 2013 Catalog

I like the new logo – it’s fresh and modern, while still feeling classy. But I must confess – on my first flip through, I was a bit skeptical of the new catalog format. It’s a little bit different this year. One of the things that really distinguished the Pinetree catalog for me was the fact that there were separate sections for foreign/ethnic vegetable varieties. I liked seeing everything grouped together that way and it was fun to travel around the world just by turning the page. That organizational structure has now been replaced  by a more standard grouping – vegetables, flowers, containers, etc. I was pretty disappointed, until I got to page 51, where they’ve provided a “foreign vegetable index”. Devotees of the old format can still browse by cuisine, if you will! And I do concede the point that it is easier to plan a garden out of the standardized catalog.

Other than that, the catalog is much the same as it’s always been. They continue to list days to maturity, quantity and planting instructions for all varieties, which I really appreciate. Some catalogs surprisingly don’t bother printing that info and it vexes me to no end. How can you decide to plant a variety if all you have is a prosaic description of how pretty it is? While a good description can really draw you in, if the facts aren’t provided the description is useless. Fortunately Pinetree understands that and has arranged their catalog accordingly.

They still have a great selection, with a lot of heirloom varieties. Their prices are still unbeatable – most varieties range from $0.95 – $1.50 per packet. There aren’t many places around where you can buy high quality seed for under a dollar a packet. And the catalog still offers value-added merchandise like books (pretty good selection too), gardening supplies, and soil amendments as well as soap and candle making supplies. I think all of these product lines really go hand in hand.

My criticisms of the new catalog are so minimal it’s almost ridiculous to call them such – it would be nice if the page numbers were at the outer bottom corner of the page, and not in the center. And while the planting instructions are overall very clear and expansive, the onion section is lacking a key piece of info – the definition of “long day” and “short day” onions. I would bet a lot of gardeners don’t know, or can’t keep them straight. (For the curious, long day onions require 14-16 hours of daylight and are grown in the north. Short day onions require about 12 hours of daylight and are grown in the south. Which always confuses me since you’d think the days in the south would be longer… at any rate, that’s what they mean). Overall, the catalog is highly enticing and the by the time I got to the end of it, I was won over to the new look.

So that just leaves the most important piece of information – what am I going to order? I’ve still got a little time to mull it over, but I’ve certainly got my eyes on Gold Nugget tomatoes (the ones I grew last year and we were wild about) and the Sustane Compost Tea Bags – being a container gardener, I haven’t been able to make my own compost yet, so these ready made bags to infuse in water for plant feeding are just the ticket.