Seeds and Plants
I highly recommend Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (Mineral, Virginia) as the best source of seeds chosen for the mid-Atlantic area. The seeds are untreated; mostly open-pollinated (as opposed to hybrids); are chosen based on concerns of gardeners (rather than commercial producers), and include many heirloom varieties. Variety descriptions are honest (a true rarity among seed catalogs) and genuinely helpful in making selections. And service is prompt, courteous, and personable.
FEDCO Seeds (Waterville, Maine) is a fascinating seed co-operative apparently run by an eclectic bunch of old hippies. They feature a huge, well-documented collection of seeds at amazingly good prices. I have been buying more and more of my seed from FEDCO the past several years.
Italians have a reputation for prizing high-quality fresh produce. Seeds from Italy, U.S. distributor for a major Italian seed company (Franchi Sementi, in the seed trade since 1783), offers a huge selection of Italian varieties. I rely on them for seeds of favorite onions like “Long of Florence” (sometimes called “Red Torpedo Onions”). For a chicory/radicchio aficionado like me, their unmatched selection is indispensable. (Do be careful, though: The last time I was on their site I ordered nineteen varieties!)
Seed Savers Exchange is dedicated to preserving our priceless heritage of horticultural varieties (and keeping them from being monopolized by giant corporations like Monsanto). You can order online or via catalog from their extensive offering of heirloom varieties.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds (Winslow, Maine) has an excellent selection of salads and cooking greens. Many are excellent candidates for cold weather and protected winter gardening.
Edible Landscaping (Afton, Virginia) is my favorite source of nursery stock for all sorts of tree, shrub, and perennial plants for the orchard and garden. All Edible Landscaping’s stock is container grown (potted), so of course they are more expensive (than bare-root stock). However, they can be planted at almost any time of year, and they get started growing right away, without the serious transplant shock of bare-root plants. Most of my fruit trees and shrubs, plus perennials such as asparagus, have come from Edible Landscaping. Their packaging for shipping via UPS has always been most impressive.
Hidden Springs Nursery is another source of well-cared-for nursery stock, including many rare, unusual, and native types that might be new to most of us. All their stock is shipped bare-root, but the two orders I’ve made so far were well packaged, and I anticipate they will do fine.