Each winter we love discovering colorful seed catalogs in our mail. The landscape may be snowy and the air frigid but flipping through catalogs and savoring photos of flowering prairies and ripe tomatoes makes us think spring.

We buy many types of seeds for our prairie and woodland restorations, the chicken run and the vegetable garden. Often, we order from several companies and buy some seeds in local garden supply stores.

Like many wildflower enthusiasts, we prefer buying seeds grown as close to our Iowa home as possible. They are well adapted to our climate and soil. Googling NATIVE PLANT SEED SOURCES will steer anyone to seed companies close to where they live, even if that’s Australia!

Here are some of our favorite sources:

SEED SAVERS EXCHANGE, 3094 North Winn Road, Decorah, IA  52101.  www.seedsavers.org. This is our favorite source for garden vegetable seeds. The catalog lists hundreds of varieties. Many are heritage types hard to find anywhere else.   It’s where we buy seeds for Silver Bell winter squash, our favorite. Seed Savers is a fun place to visit located near the college town of Decorah, Iowa.

ALBERT LEA SEED HOUSE, 1414 West Main Street, Albert Lea, MN 56007.  www.alseed.com.  We’ve bought prairie wildflower seeds and a few pounds of turnip seeds that thrived in our chicken run from this company, and we enjoy visiting their fun store.

ERNST SEEDS,8884 Mercer Pike, Meadville, PA 16335.  www.ernstseed.com. A few years ago, we were looking for buckwheat seed to plant in our chicken run. We found it at Ernst Seeds, and it thrived. Ernst sells a wide range of seeds.

ION EXCHANGE, Harpers Ferry, Iowa, www.ionxchange.com. Ion Exchange sells both seeds and started plants for prairie and woodland restorations.

PHEASANTS FOREVER, www.pheasantsforever.org. This conservation organization sells seed mixtures especially developed to provide wildlife habitat and food. It is an excellent source of reasonably priced seeds for planting large areas.

Seeds are one of nature’s miracles. Given the right care and location each tiny and seemingly dead seed brings life to the land that is a feast for the eye and palate.


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