Where do I go to purchase seeds?

One of the questions I am asked quite often is, "Where can I buy seeds?"

This question is commonly asked during the fall/winter planting season, but also arises for the spring planting. Many of the local stores/garden centers carry some spring planting seeds, however, even then their selections are limited, and often there are other varieties that would do better in our climate. Rarely can we find the vegetables seeds for growing during our winter season.

The Brassicaceae family - broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage to name a few - are easily grown here during the winter months. I have rarely seen the plants available, so the solution is, start your own. There are many reputable seed companies on the Web. Simply type in "vegetable seeds" and you will find an extensive list. Most of the larger companies offer a free newsletter, and at least once a month, I receive a special Web offer, often with significant savings on seeds or free shipping. If the computer is not your preference, I have included some 800 numbers at the end of this article for just a few of the companies I am familiar with.

Make a list of the vegetables you would like to plant. Whether you are using the computer or a catalog, thoroughly read the description given for each variety. Many times you will find wording like "drought tolerant," "heat resistant," and "slow to bolt," or "holds mild flavor when hot and dry weather," "withstands heat" These are your best choices.

Also look for disease-resistant vanities, the alphabet symbols of V - Verticillium wilt; F - Fusarium wilt, race 1; FF - Fusarium wilt race I and II; N - Nematodes; T - Tobacco mosaic. If you do not know what these diseases are, that's good; believe me, you do not need them.

As the old saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Planting disease-resistant varieties only makes good sense. I would suggest you research more than one seed company. Yes, you will find duplications, but you will also find different varieties.

If you are lucky enough to find a sale on 2008 seeds, go for it, and don't be afraid to try new vegetables.

Most important, keep a diary; note the variety and the company you purchased from. If you do not get the results you expected this year, next year try a different variety, or a different company.

Most of the time, you will receive more seeds in one packet than you will plant.

To store the unused seeds, simply place then in an air-tight container and store the container in a dry place, or split your seeds with a friend.

• Burpee: (800) 888-1446; www.burpee.com

• Stark Bros.: (800) 325-4180; www.starkbros.com

• Gurney's: (513) 354-1491; www.Gurneys.com

• Henry Field's: (513) 354-1494 www.HenryFields.com.