It’s getting around the time to start seeds. For someone that’s as impatient as I am, waiting for them to sprout is excruciating. But there’s a really fun step that must come first: buying seeds!

Though I do buy seedlings from garden centers as well, starting seeds gives us access to thousands of varieties that I’d never find as a plant. The seeds I choose tend to be heritage varieties. I’m a sucker for a plant with a story. Also, I tend to shop online, to ensure I get seeds that have been kept in the best possible conditions. While I used to await the Burpee’s catalog with anticipation, I find myself being a little bored with their offerings – plus, lots of grocery stores carry their seeds – if I really want a burpless cucumber, I can always pick up a packet of seeds at Target.

My favorite company by far, and the only one I ordered from this winter is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Baker Creek offers more than 1400 varieties not only of garden staples like tomatoes and peppers but also a dizzying array of squash, eggplant and rarities like purslane and burdock. The company is family operated out of Missouri, so I know the seeds will do well in the similar climate of Ohio.

Each variety has an informative listing, often noting its origin in a little known corner of the world. If you can’t find the vegetable seeds you’re looking for, then you really are a tough customer! The site navigation is straightforward – no frills, but most listings have a good picutre, and some have user reviews. In addition, the prices are more than reasonable, helping me justify trying a few things I may have balked at otherwise.

Baker Creek's 2010 Catalog

In the past, I’ve also ordered for Seeds of Change. They tend of have fewer varieties available, and are quite a bit more expensive than Baker Creek. The catalog and web site feel much more “glossy” and “yuppie,” which gives me the feeling that a lot of people buy seeds from here that they never put in the ground. I skipped them this year, but I did give the site and catalog a once-over. One nice thing about Seeds of Change is that they offer onion sets, strawberry plants and apple trees in addition to seeds.

Seeds of Change 2010 Catalog

A couple of other sites that look promising include: Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Stokes Seeds. Maybe when I have more planting space…