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Where to buy uncommon seeds and seedlings
Internet/mail order seeds and plants
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, 2278 Baker Creek Road, Mansfield, Mo., 65704, (417) 924-8917; www.rareseeds.com. Rare and unusual heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers, all open-pollinated varieties. Look for Cuban Seasoning peppers, as well as Japanese Black Trifele tomatoes, French thyme, Thai basil, burnet and Thai Golden Round melon, a very sweet melon with a bright orange skin and pineapple-like flavor.
Reimer Seeds, Box 236, Mount Holly, N.C. 28120-0236; www.reimerseeds.com. Nearly 4,000 varieties of vegetables, herbs and flower seeds. Note that this is an Internet-only seed company; orders can be made only through the website -- though you can order online and then mail a check. This is a source for Pisanello tomato seeds.
Renee's Garden, 6116 Highway 9, Felton, Calif. 95018, (888) 880-7228; www.reneesgarden.com. Many vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. Source for Green Fingers cucumbers, Italian Cameo basil, several Thai basils, numerous lettuce and mâche varieties, including some offered in seed collections. Test gardens in California.
Seeds From Italy, Box 149, Winchester, Mass. 01890, (781) 721-5904; www.growitalian.com. Great selection of Italian vegetables, herbs and flowers. U.S. distributor for 200-plus-year-old Franchi seeds. Source for agretti seeds, along with other traditional Italian items. Try their Cascine fava beans or grow your own capers.
Swallowtail Garden Seeds, 122 Calistoga Road, No. 178, Santa Rosa, Calif. 95409, (707) 538-3585; www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com. Annual and perennial flowers, vegetables and herbs, many heirlooms. Source for Yellow Wonder Alpine strawberry seed. (Note: Alpine strawberries typically don't produce many runners, if any, and are more easily grown from seed than traditional strawberries.)
Victory Seed Co., Box 192, Molalla, Ore. 97038, (503) 829-3126; www.victoryseeds.com. Offers organically grown or certified organic open-pollinated and heirloom seeds for vegetables, herbs and flowers, many of which are grown on its family farm. The company also has a seed bank, and offers the chance to be a trial gardener. Source for Extreme Bush tomatoes. It also carries mint seeds, which many companies don't, and some old-fashioned herb seeds such as hyssop and horehound.
Plant sales and nurseries
L.A. County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, (626) 821-4624; www.arboretum.org. March 26, tomato lecture, heirloom tomato sale; May 2 to 4, LA Garden Show (includes sale). $7 arboretum admission.
Fullerton Arboretum, 1900 Associated Road, Fullerton, (714) 278-3407; www.arboretum.fullerton .edu. March 13 to 16, tomato (200-plus varieties) and pepper (90-plus varieties) sale. Free.
Hayward Organic Gardening, (323) 216-0379. Sells unusual vegetable and herb seedlings and plants at Sunday Hollywood farmers market and Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers' Market. Look for mentuccia, chocolate mint, large and small-leafed mâche, wild Italian arugula, French thyme and many others, including yerba santa, whose leaves are used to wrap tamales, and for seasoning, and the fabled "collard green tree."
Sunset Boulevard Nursery, 4368 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 661-1642. Selection of vegetable and herb seedlings not typically stocked by larger garden stores.
Tomatomania,www.tomatomania.com. L.A. sale dates April 4 to 6, Tapia Bros. Farm Stand, Encino. 300-plus tomato seedling varieties.
Windrose Farms,www.windrosefarm.org. Sells seedlings at farmers markets including Wednesday and Sunday in Santa Monica, Saturday in Santa Barbara. Beginning in April, sells from farm stand east of Paso Robles, near Creston. Look for many herbs, including French thyme, French tarragon, Thai basils. Source for World of Color Giant pumpkins and heirloom tomatoes beginning in March.
Common Ground, (323) 260-3348; celosangeles.ucdavis.edu/CommonGround_Garden_Program. Free garden tips and planting schedules, online information.
-- Dawna Nolan