by Nicki Wood
A friend of a friend swears by Pinetree and after last year, it's my "go to" for seeds and plants. I found plants in there that work in the South, with our hot summers and long growing season, including fennel and celery varieties that will actually grow here.
Unlike other seed catalogs, Pinetree (which is based in New Gloucester, Maine) stocks just a few varieties of each herb or vegetable — consider the the four pages of tomatoes a special indulgence — and each variety is selected for distinctive and useful traits.
For the adventurous palate and planter, Pinetree offers Asian vegetables, and European vegetables like Russian kale and orache, mache, Italian tomatoes for sun-drying and Greek basil. No, they probably won't grow well here, but they might.
(That's what winter is all about — the possibility that in summer, something miraculous will spring from the dirt in your backyard or planter.)
Since Nashville has no more giant, comprehensive bookstores, Pinetree's selection of specialized gardening and farming titles is helpful. Just try finding The Backyard Orchardist, Making Concrete Garden Ornaments, or Microgreens: A Guide to Growing at Books-A-Million.
The catalog's fourth half is possibly even more fun — pages and pages of gadgets like soap molds, choppers, canning supplies, corn cutters — sure, a lot are unitaskers, but there's probably some tedious annual chore that might soften your stance against single-task gadget.
It's all online, though the printed catalog lets you snuggle in bed and dream your winter dreams. Printed on newsprint instead of slick paper, the Pinetree catalog feels virtuous: if you aren't ordering, you can at least compost it with confidence.