I have ordered seeds and other items such as soap-making supplies, from Pinetree for many years. In particular, we have had great success with the many tomato varieties that appear in this catalog. And while they change from year to year, the selection is always abundant, and the prices are perhaps the best in the industry, overall.
It comes as not even a small surprise that the Pinetree catalog makes our list of the top ten seed and nursery catalogs out there for avid gardeners again for 2018.
Please note that we only review products that we believe we can bring to fruition here in high, mountainous Northeastern Pennsylvania. Our climate is tough; our garden, rocky, slaggy, muddy, marshy and often wondrous, if not miraculous.
Here are our ten picks for 2018:
- Gingaku Hybrid Melon: This a pale-fleshed Korean melon that has a 70-day growing season, making it a possible success for the garden here. The taste promises a unique combination of cucumber, cantaloupe and pear. Overall, the short growing season and flavor medley make this melon tempting, indeed. We will give it a try.
- Aunt Ruby’s German Green Tomato: We grew this tomato last year, and it was absolutely the star of our garden. I wondered aloud about our bumper crop of these handsome, huge green tomatoes. However, my qualms quickly disappeared. The tomatoes are ripe when they soften to touch, and spring back; the color doesn’t change drastically, although more gold may appear on the skin. The flesh is brilliant green and refreshingly sweet. We will grow Aunt Ruby’s, simply, forever…. This is an 80-day tomato, but it still yielded heavily here in the Pocono Northeast.
- Solar Flare Tomato: Amazing and new, this tomato offers a beautiful base color of reddish orange— but with metallic gold stripes. We hope that this one will yield like Aunt Ruby.
- Coustralee Tomato: This, in my opinion, is the most beautiful and the tastiest of tomatoes for those looking for an heirloom red variety. This French tomato has grown in a variety of sizes for me, but it has never grown huge, as the catalog explains. I wonder why not. For me, this was no problem, however. I have found the tomatoes to be of average size, with superb flavor, and simply gorgeous ribbing around the top of the fruit. In a beauty contest for tomatoes, this heirloom wins a crown. In the taste contest, it also takes a very blue ribbon.
- Pinetree Basil mix: I have purchased this mix without fail for several years. It provides a wide variety of culinary varieties, spanning much of the basil rainbow. I find that I still need to buy separate packets of Blue Spice (with those vanilla overtones), a huge, hardy basil, and Holy Basil, that is, tulsi. Holy Basil is a blog unto itself. This basil mix, and most of Pinetree’s mixes are ideal for those of us who have limited space and want to grow a lot of varieties in limited space.
- Wild Lupine Mix: I can’t say enough about this huge packet of wild lupines (1,250 seeds, $4.50). The catalog description correctly notes that growing the cultivated lupines can be tricky. For me, they have proved to be hit-or-miss. Don’t get me wrong, I would love more variety, with the pinks, and yellows and bicolor. On the other hand, these wild royal purple lupines grow vigorously and create a sea of tall, reliable color. I have taken photos of an extraordinary planting of these lupines behind one of my garden fences. While scattering the seeds does indeed work, I have better success when I dig holes and/ or lines for the lupines. This year, I will be purchasing multiple packages of these. For flower lovers, and wildflower lovers in particular, this is a treasure trove of deep purple joy.
- Popsocks Cosmos: I grew the pink variety last year with seed purchased from Pinetree. Yes, I am truly a bit of a cosmos fanatic. I love planting all the cool varieties en masse, and then doing the same thing with the bright, hot ones. The tall varieties sway in the wind and weather storms valiantly. I grew Popsocks in a container and loved their smallish, dainty form. Don’t give up on the larger traditional cosmos, but consider how these smaller blooms can add another layer of possibilities to your plans with this flower type.
- Cheyenne Spirit Echinacea: I try to collect new varieties of Echinacea and have good success in growing the old standard (violet-pink) in my fenced-in backyard. Deer and other animals eat them, if I put them outside of the fence. Cheyenne seeds have been around for a few years. This series offers a wide variety of colors, and if you get all of the seeds to grow, this is a frugal gardener’s dream. While other seed houses are also selling Cheyenne, Pinetree’s price is notable: $4.95 for 15 seeds.
- Fall Mum: It is so wonderful to see seeds for these in Pinetree’s catalog. I started a similar package of seeds that I purchased from Thompson and Morgan several years ago. The blooms are mostly pink in my yard, a refreshing and surprising pastel pink – nothing like the pink-violet, we tend to see at nurseries in the fall. (All the seeds and seed colors did not come to fruition.) For me, this type of mum is a VERY late bloomer, flowering well into autumn (November here last year). Pinetree’s price of $1.75 for 20 seeds is the notable good news here. If you find a better price, let me know. And if all 20 seeds create fall mums, this becomes one of the more amazing floral bargains out there in an increasingly, outrageously priced market.
- Salad Burnet: I like calling this herb “cucumber leaf.” In my opinion, this is one of the more neglected herbs in most American gardens. Make a little space for this perennial. You can and should snip the leaves as a fresh addition to your homegrown spring mix. Along with winter savory, salad burnet tops the list of sorely under-used and under-loved herbs.
As always, I will continue to order abundantly from Pinetree. I have a request. Give us more variety packs—not fewer. And add mixes of nasturtiums and morning glories. (Please.)
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We also review seeds and plants that are sent to us. While we will try to grow almost everything, we prefer to be contacted by those who would like us to try out their products.
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Copyright 2018 by Maria Jacketti