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It's time to peruse seed catalogs.

I am "homesteading" on 1/4 acre in an older "sort of suburb with city power and water but there is no sidewalk so maybe I qualify.

It occured to me that some readers might like sources for seeds and fruit trees.

For a comprehensive overview there are two books I like: Garden Seed Inventory (5th edition) and Fruit, Berry and Nut Inventory (3rd edition). These are both available from Seed Saver Publications, 3076 North Winn Rd., Decora, IA 52101; 563-382-5990;

They are pricey at $26 and $24 in paperback, but the Fruit, Berry and Nut Inventory (3rd edition) book, is well worth it. That is the cost of one fruit tree and it is very helpful in avoiding mistakes. It gives you access to 280 mail-order nurseries, phone numbers, addresses all over the country. It lists and describes 1,513 named varieties of apple trees, for example, to start.

It is invaluable for locating heirloom varieties. It mentions disease resistance, cold tolerance, chill hours, pollination requirements, flavor, specific uses (cooking/eating/cider, etc.) and there are sections on rootstocks.

Catalogs don't always include things you'd like to know, like a variety that bears only every other year (biennial) or being susceptible to scab. Or you might want an apple tree that can survive -50[degrees]F winters.

Some places I have bought from and can recommend are:

* Miller's Nurseries, 500 West Lake Rd., Canandaigua, NY 14424; 800-836-9630. 60 varieties of apples, 229 total varieties.

* Trees of Antiquity, 20 Wellson Rd., Paso Robles, CA 93446; 805-467-9909. 150 varieties of apples, 312 total varieties.

* Greenmantle Nursery, 3010 Ettersberg Rd., Garbersville, CA 95543; 707-986-7504.

* Fedco Trees/Fedco Seeds, PO Box 520, Waterville, ME 04903-0520; 207-873-7333; 100 varieties of apples, 222 total varieties.

The Fedco Seed Catalog is a lot of fun and they carry a lot of open-pollinated varieties, for those who like to save their own seeds.

For people who haven't come across it yet, and who are trying for self-sufficiency, let me mention the Potato or Multiplier onion. Fedco carries this. It is a much smaller onion, a big one is maybe 2-1/2" across, but it totally eliminates the need for onion sets or seeds. Just plant a bulb in the spring and it multiplies itself out into a clump of up to 10 bulbs. Pull, cure and store like normal onions. It stores like a rock.

I can also recommend the leaf beet/perpetual spinach/perpetual chard. It is a variety of chard. A good basic "leafy green." Nice mild flavor and very easy to grow. It holds all winter here, down to 15[degrees]F, makes lots of nice, big seeds, self-sows, no problem with pests (no aphids, even the slugs don't like it). Pretty much goof-proof. Well, maybe leaf miners, but that is easy to handle. Just pick and destroy the affected leaves.

Other sources of interest:

* Pinetree Garden Seeds, PO Box 300, New Gloucester, ME 04260; 270-926-3400; www. Pinetree carries some hard-to-find items.

* Vermont Bean Seed Company, 334 W. Stroud St., Randolph, WI 53956; 800-349-1071; Vermont Bean has 38 varieties of green beans, and 27 varieties of shelling beans.

* Ronniger's Potato Farm, HCR 62 BOX 332A, Moyie Springs, ID 83845; 2008-267-7938; Ronnigers carries 80 varieties of potatoes, also the potato onions and non-knobby sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes). The catalog has a lot of information and is very educational. They also breed horses, the Haflinger--an Arab/Tyrolean cross. They sound good from their description; like a very nice, intelligent, hardy, smaller horse for riding or light farm work.

* Totally Tomatoes, 334 W. Stroud St., Randolph, WI 53956; 800-345-5977; Totally Tomatoes carries about 250 varieties of tomatoes and 100 varieties of peppers.

And, of course, Seed Savers Exchange has heirloom, open-pollinated varieties, 24,000 of them.

The Multiplier/Potato onion are also carried by JW Jung Seed Company, 335 S. High St., Randolph, WI 53957; 800-247-5864; www.jungseed. com

I hope these sources will be useful. Genetic diversity is so important. There are so many different factors including flavors, temperature tolerances, disease resistances, etc. Every person who plants an heirloom variety helps preserve it. Good growing to you all.


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Title Annotation:The garden
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Nov 1, 2005
Previous Article:Gardening in your 80s.
Next Article:Readers share recipes for crab apples, salsa and relish.

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