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Best Seed Catalogs for Heirloom Tomatoes & Other Vegetables (2024)

Best Seed Catalogs for Heirloom Tomatoes & Other Vegetables (2024)
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This is my 23rd year growing heirloom tomatoes, chile peppers, berries, squash and assorted veggies on our small farm.

Over the years I have ordered my seeds (heirloom and hybrid) from a lot of different seed companies, and have compiled a list of which ones work best for germination rates, variety selection and cost.

Below are my top picks for heirloom tomatoes and other garden vegetables.

Baskets of heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market
Baskets of heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market

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What to Look for when Deciding on Tomato Varieties

When I personally order tomato seeds I am looking for two specific categories:

  • Home gardeners needs: Since I sell tomato seedlings at the farmers’ markets I look for varieties that will meet a wide range of the home gardeners’ needs. This would include:
    • earliest tomatoes,
    • most disease resistant,
    • biggest,
    • meatiest,
    • mildest,
    • best for containers
  • Personal favorites for cooking: For my personal use I look for specific varieties that I need for home cooking and making specific tomato products. This would include:
    • varieties for drying,
    • varieties for smoking,
    • varieties for jams,
    • varieties for sauces

If you are confused about all the various uses and flavors of heirloom tomatoes, this article on the flavor profiles of heirloom tomatoes might help.

Best Seed Catalogs for Growing Heirloom Tomatoes

The following recommendations are in no particular order. They each have pros and cons and are distinctive from each other.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (now called Rare Seeds)

This catalog is definitely eye candy and it used to be the first one I went to in the spring as it has great descriptions and great photos of heirloom varieties.  In 2023-2023 however, they reduced the range of varieties they carry, and they started charging for the catalog.

It is now $14.95 to get the catalog if you have not ordered from them before. I personally won’t pay for the catalog, but I did get a free copy because of prior orders.

In 2023 I was unable to find any of the specific or rare varieties of heirloom tomatoes and heirloom winter squash that I have ordered in the past. Still beautiful photos, but their selection has diminished.

Bakers Creek Seed Catalog (2024)
Bakers Creek Seed Catalog (2024)

Tomato Fest

Tomato Fest specializes in organic heirloom tomatoes.  I order these seeds online as they don’t have a paper catalog that they send out in the mail.  You can download their pdf catalog (82 pages) if you want, but the website is easy enough to navigate.

Tomatofest has over 600 varieties of tomatoes, many of them rare and some of them exclusive. 

This was the only place I could find the Julia Child variety, Aussie (my favorite of the large reds), Carmello and Dona.  And they’re organic seeds!

Pinetree Garden Seeds: 

Pinetree Garden Seeds is a great resource for gardeners that want to order smaller amounts of seed, but still have access to a large range of variety choice.  They usually have about 15-20 seeds per pack rather than 30-40 of other seed companies, and each pack costs about $2.00 to $3.00, which is less than other companies. 

Germination rate has been great from these seeds and I always order from them whenever they carry the varieties I want (I will order 3 packs at time and still save money). No pretty pictures though!

Pinetree Seed Catalog (2024)
Pinetree Seed Catalog (2024)

Totally Tomatoes

This has been my go-to catalog for tomatoes for a number of years.  They have a huge number of heirloom AND hybrid varieties. 

I always include some of the better hybrids in my order, as they generally have better disease resistance and some are just as favorable as the heirlooms. 

Totally Tomatoes Seed Catalog (2024)
Totally Tomatoes Seed Catalog (2024)

Not all of my customers can successfully grow heirlooms, and I include a range of hybrids for specific purposes (like Bush Champion for patio tomatoes) in my overall order.  They also carry a wide range of sweet and hot peppers. 

Prices range somewhere between Baker Creek and Pinetree.  Germination is  dependable.  They are not exclusively organic, but they probably have the largest range of varieties.

Best Catalog For Berry Plants in Zone 4 & 5

Indiana Berry & Plant Company is my one of my favorite catalogs for strawberries and raspberries that grow well in the Midwest. I also like Norse as a good source for small berries.

Indiana Berry & Plant Catalog (2024)
Indiana Berry & Plant Catalog (2024)

I grow 600 blueberry plants, but they are over 20 years old now and I purchased them way back from Towerview Nursery in Michigan. Blueberry plants are something you want to research more in depth for your particular micro-climate.

Good Companies for Vegetable Seeds

Sometimes the seed companies have crop failures or low inventory of certain seeds. I have missed out on some of my preferred varieties in previous years so I always order early now.

I order all my seeds the first of January and find I still have to scout the internet for a few of the hard-to-find varieties.

For vegetables & herbs beyond just tomatoes, I have found the following companies to have reliable germination rates, good seed selections and be responsible in their seed conservation:

Guides for successfully growing tomatoes

Remember that planning for your end use is key

So, there you go.  Hopefully this has been helpful to you as you do your winter garden planning. 

Spending a cold snowy day with my picks for the best seed catalogs for heirloom tomatoes (and peppers and squash btw), along with a fresh cup of coffee ranks right up there with one of my favorite winter activities.

I consider it the ultimate “hygge” for January. Don’t know what hygge is? Here is a fun summary article on starting a cozy hygge Winter.

The greatest thing about winter paper gardening is the vision of how great the tomato garden is going to be “this year”.  Hope does spring eternal.  Happy Planning!

If you like my articles about cooking and gardening, subscribe to my weekly newsletter, where I share free recipes and gardening tutorials.

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Roger

Monday 15th of January 2024

Hi, Migardener has been a pleasant surprise find this past year. Also Megan's heirloom seeds. I also bought some seeds from Tomato Growers Supply at the end of December.

Dorothy Stainbrook

Tuesday 16th of January 2024

I’ll have to check into those. Thanks!

Don

Sunday 5th of November 2023

Have you checked out Tomato Growers Supply Company? They have an enormous number of varieties (including Carmello, which is a favorite of mine as well), reasonable prices, and in my experience good germination. I believe I go back with them at least 20 years.

As a general purpose catalog, I highly recommend High Mowing Seeds. I find myself ordering more from them every year.

Dorothy Stainbrook

Monday 6th of November 2023

Thank you Don. I will check out both of those right after Christmas when I start ordering.

Duane

Thursday 8th of December 2022

Kudos on your how-to's for heirloom tomatoes. It is the best!

dorothy stainbrook

Friday 9th of December 2022

Thank you so much for commenting Duane. I’ve pretty much been using those companies for years now and they have served me well.

Roger

Thursday 8th of December 2022

Hi Dorothy;

I use all the vendors you listed. I also buy seeds from Maryshierloomseeds.com. I have found some rare [to me] seeds on her web site and have had good germination from her seeds.

dorothy stainbrook

Friday 9th of December 2022

Thank you for the recommendation Roger. I’ll check it out.

Dario

Tuesday 22nd of November 2022

Also looking for rosada tomato seeds does any know where I can buy them?

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