Monday, January 23, 2012

Garden Planning Giveaway - D.S. Landreth Seed Catalog

Imagine America in 1784, one year after the end of the Revolutionary War.

The official treaty ending the war with England was ratified on January 14, 1784. There was no Constitution and no President. (Those didn't come about until 1787 and 1789, respectively.)

Most of New Hampshire was the very fine edge of civilization surrounded by wilderness. Our town was chartered in 1748, but not incorporated as a town until 1784 - the population at the time was just over 300 souls. (The 1783 census for New Hampshire wasn't even 65,000 people!) To give you an idea of what I mean by wilderness, the last time someone in New Hampshire was killed by a black bear was in 1784.

However, a few hundred miles south, the city of Philadelphia was the second largest city in America and much more civilized. Although the American capital was moved away from Philly in 1783 after a soldiers' revolt, Philadelphia had been the meeting place of both the First and Second Continental Congresses. In 1784, Charles Wilson Peale opened his natural history museum, the first daily newspaper in America started production, and Ben Franklin invented bifocals and wrote to his daughter that he disapproved of the eagle as an American symbol, preferring instead the noble turkey.

In this very same year, 1784, the D.S. Landreth Seed Company was founded in Philadelphia, PA. This company is still in existence today, and I feel like I'm holding a little piece of history when I look through the pages of their 2012 seed catalog. This seed company is older than the United States and introduced some iconic garden plant to our country, such as the white-fleshed potato and the tomato and the zinnia.

Summer garden dreaming on a winter's day
I read about the financial straits that this company is currently in and felt compelled to contribute in a small way to the preservation of an heirloom company. Lisa Boone with the LA Times pointed out that Landreth specializes in heirloom varieties, which helps to preserve genetic diversity of food crops and flowers. There was a big push in the fall of 2011 to buy catalogs to raise enough capital for the company to renegotiate its debt. I don't usually purchase seed catalogs, but I must say that I am not disappointed with my purchase.

The catalog includes a lot of advertising art and old articles from the seed company's past, which is quite interesting.

There is also a nice synopsis of the origins of each type of plant, and succinct but useful descriptions of the different varieties available for purchase. I am pleased with the diversity of the offerings for vegetables, herbs and flowers - and I love that there are full-color photos in the centerfold. The tomato pages simply make my mouth water.

Also - my favorite part - there are pages devoted to a children's garden, a patio garden and crops important to African-American history and culture.

The photos bring summer to your living room.
I purchased two copies of the seed catalog, one for me and one for you! I am very pleased to be offering my first blog giveaway. I will mail this catalog anywhere in the US or Canada, if you are the lucky winner.

To enter, leave a comment and tell me what your ancestors were up to in 1784 or a little something about your favorite vegetable. The giveaway will be open until January 31st, 2012.

Disclaimer - I did not receive any compensation for writing this review or holding this giveaway. I purchased two copies of the Landreth seed catalog because I wanted to help give this historic company a chance to reinvigorate itself in the 21st century.


  1. I would like to think that my Irish and German ancestors were enjoying just a tad too much home brew in 1784. ;)

    As for favorite vegetables, there are just too many. I really enjoy shredded brussel sprouts sauteed with pancetta and dried cranberries. So easy to make but it looks so pretty and impressive. And oh yes, this dish is crazy delicous.

    Can't wait to plant my garden.

  2. I am thinking that my ancestors were enjoying homemade wine in Alsace, France or maybe they were hearing (through the grapevine) about this new Minister to France, named Thomas Jefferson, who was from that upstart,the United States of America.
    My favorite vegetable is asparagus. I love how it presents itself as a stalk peeking up from the soil in your garden. Those tender shoots picked in their youth, so elegant, tender and delectable.