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    Nature Reflections Blog

    Ways to Welcome and Enjoy Fall

    Ways to Welcome and Enjoy Fall

     

    I never really understood the fascination with fall until I lived in Nebraska for two years. You see, as a native Floridian, fall to me was just a break from the unbearable heat and humidity. Leaves don’t change color and the grasses and marshes stay green until winter. But in Nebraska, especially my second year there after I had adopted my dog, I began to understand what makes fall so special. The air becomes crisp, sweaters become the norm and when you walk outside, you hear the crunch of the leaves beneath your feet. There is this calm energy that happens, where everyone knows that this is the cherry on the cake because soon everything will be blanketed in snow.

     

    This year, fall may feel different. With covid and the elections, it is easy to become distracted and not take full advantage of the bounty of this season. To help you enjoy and celebrate this gorgeous time of year, here a few ideas to make you fall back in love with autumn.

     

    1. Make a hearty homemade soup. My favorite soup is a chucky potato soup. I first started making this soup when I lived in Nebraska and I never make it the same way twice. I start off with vegetable broth and I add cut up potato, celery, onion, carrots, garlic, thyme, parsley, dash of cayenne, black pepper, a bay leaf or two. This is my base soup and sometimes I leave it at that. But… if I have kale or spinach, I will toss some in at the end. If I have mushrooms in the fridge, I will add them. As long as you use traditional fall vegetables, it will come out great. You can even get creative and add butternut squash, parsnips or yams. Yummy and delicious!

     

    1. Take a walk in the woods. The color of the leaves is enough to put you in the spirit of autumn but if you need a little boost, make it a gratitude walk. As you walk, notice everything. Let’s say you see a broken branch on the ground… you can then say to yourself, thank you for the life you gave to the branch. Look up to the sky and say thank you for the cornflower blue that adds a beautiful contrast to the orange, brown and yellow leaves. It may seem silly at first but keep doing this with everything you see and you will feel a shift of energy and your mood will be lighter. Doing a gratitude walk is a way to truly appreciate the scenery around you.

     

    1. Since you are already outside, you can take some of nature’s gifts and bring them home. Dried leaves and twigs make great centerpieces and other home décor. Need some inspiration? Here is a good article of crafts you can make with Fall Leaves.

     

    1. Go camping! Yes, I know… there is a pandemic that is happening right now but camping is one of those trips that can be done with social distancing. And… camping does not have to be in a tent! Rent an RV or a converted bus or van and take a few days and go out in nature. With kids back in school, fall travel is usually the slower time of year to travel. A few days away can be that little something you need to help lift your spirits and reconnect to your true and authentic self.

     

    1. Many of us become a little more patient in fall. If you are like that and have thought about fermenting foods, this just may be the time to start this new hobby. Check out Sandorkraut’s Wild Fermentation website for recipes and idea. I own one of his books and I have made ginger beer, tempeh, kombucha, sourdough and sauerkraut over the years. His advice and recommendations are spot on.

     

    1. Or, if fermentation isn’t your thing, make some homemade hot cider with mulling spices. Not only does cider taste great but the aroma in your house will welcome in fall. If this doesn’t get you in a cozy warm mood, I don’t know what will! Maybe…

     

    1. Light candles with warm scents. There is just something about the glow of a candle. Though I normally avoid ones with vanilla because I will start craving sweets, there are so many scents that evoke the season. From bakery scents of cinnamon and spice to woodsy scents like spruce, sandalwood and bonfire.

     

    1. Speaking about bonfires… if you have a yard, this is a great time to light up a fire pit. Hang out with your family and roast your dinner over the fire one night. This can be a fun event and make your evening a real treat. Of course, after your meal, you will need to make the campfire staple of some s’mores.

     

    1. Fall, is the worst time of year for retail. It’s in-between back to school shopping and not quite the time for holiday shopping… however, this is how you can benefit. Most stores will have fall sales which often beat the prices of that are offered year-round, including during the holiday shopping season. So, check out some Fall Sales (we even have one going on at Nature Reflections) and get holiday shopping done early while you are in that relaxed fall state of mind.

     

    1. Take it easy. Fall is the time to hibernate and relax. It is OK to just cuddle up on the couch and read a good book, watch some old movies and talk to your friends on the phone. This is a time to reconnect with ourselves. We know busy months are coming up and we’ve probably already did a bunch of cleaning and clearing out of our closets during the spring. Now… it is time for you. Time to rest. Time to do the things that bring you joy, whether it be knitting, painting, cooking, baking, creating or the joy of doing nothing… absolutely nothing. It is completely up to you. And if you want some validation on why it is good to do nothing, here are some quotes for reassurance.

     

     

     

    About the author: Theresa Touhey is a writer, artist, designer, meme maker, hydroponic gardener, grandmother to two active grandsons and the owner of Nature Reflections. She loves nature and is often hanging out with her rescue Havanese.

    I’m Over 50 and I Am Loving TikTok

    I’m Over 50 and I Am Loving TikTok

     

     

    You may be rolling your eyes right now and I get it. When I first saw the ads for TikTok more than a year ago, I thought to myself, do we really need another platform and especially one just filled with short silly videos? I couldn’t imagine myself ever being on it and who has the time to even make videos? A year passed and I didn’t give any thought to TikTok until the past couple of months…

     

    And that is when my daughter-in-law started sending me funny videos via text messages. The videos weren’t highly produced and were made by just regular people, not celebrities or people with model, movie star looks or charisma. The videos felt like something that my friends would do without a camera and pre-covid. The videos made me laugh and after the third one or so, I started scrolling through TikTok and I would spend 15 minutes or so enjoying myself. Then, after a few more days, I created an account.

     

    Now, it took about a couple of weeks before the algorithm really clicked in, and that is one of the things that makes TikTok so much fun. You see, at first, I was fed the types of videos that my daughter-in-law watched because those were the videos that she had sent me and I would watch all the way through to the end and click on the heart to show that I liked it. But as time went on, the video feed changed and to my delight, it changed for the better! I am fed a lot of videos with the hashtag #over50 and I am discovering so many talented people my age an older! People who cook delicious meals, people who dance the hustle, people who garden, people who do carpentry and more! But I am not limited to just stories of people my age… this is really a whole community. And it is what makes TikTok exciting.

     

    What also makes TikTok fun is that it is not just about watching videos. It is about being inspired. Since being on TikTok, I have pushed myself to break through my comfort zone and make videos for my business, both on my website and on TikTok. In fact, you may not know it, but I post the TikTok videos onto Instagram  and Facebook Stories (to see them, go to our Facebook or Instagram page and click on the Circle that says Nature Reflections… they are hidden, I don’t know why Facebook does that since stories can be so much fun.) Besides making videos. I have been inspired to make connections and friendships with others. Just a few things I have learned on TikTok is:

     

    • Just about anything can be put into an air fryer, including fruit, which definitely satisfies my sweet tooth!
    • I made a light box to take photos- it cost less than $20 to make it myself and is much better than the one I bought last year.
    • I’ve learned lots of little hacks in regards to taking care of plants and propagating them
    • I tie-dyed a T-Shirt using Avocado pits and peels (and guess what? It comes out to a very lovely shade of mauve/pink.)
    • I’ve discovered hideaway nature places in Florida that I never knew existed! (And I always thought I knew every crevice of this state- boy was I wrong!)

     

    However, the one thing I have gained the most being on TikTok is a renewed sense of hope. I am so impressed by Generation Z (the bulk of TikTok users.) Many of the Z-ers include their parents and grandparents into their videos. This generation also seems to be big fans of the things we grew up with… many are fans of Stevie Nicks and music from the 60s and 70s. They are crafters, musicians, plant people, artists and creatives. Some have converted old vans into homes on wheels. It touches my heart to see how much they care about nature and community and personal growth. Their enthusiasm and wonder takes me back to that energy I had when I was their age, looking at the world as a plethora of opportunities and adventure.

     

    So, if you are looking for something that is fun and you want to know what the buzz is about, then you may want to check out TikTok. And, if you do go on the platform, please stop by my page at @naturereflectionsjewelry where you will see videos of my dog, nature (my first video was of a peacock that was in a parking lot at a taco stand) and of course, jewelry.

     

    About the Author- Theresa Touhey is a writer, painter, nature-enthusiast, entrepreneur who owns NatureReflectionsJewelry.com. She loves to travel, hang out with her recued Havanese dog and visit her two adorable grandsons.

     

     

    Allowing Yourself to be Beautiful

    Allowing Yourself to be Beautiful

     

    When we think of beauty, we may think of a glamorous movie star, someone that is perfectly groomed with expertly applied makeup and a body that is chiseled by extensive exercise. To me, that is not beauty but a manufactured imaged. Though it is pretty and attractive, it is just an illusion. And that is OK, since the actor is portraying a role based on an expectation for the work that they do. An actor, especially one that plays leading characters in a movie or show, often is required by the industry and fans to look a particular way. Now some actors, even with this agenda, may also be beautiful… but being physically pretty or attractive is not what beauty is all about.

     

    Often, we confuse beauty with style, asymmetry or a manicured application. But beauty is beyond these things. Beauty is a vibration. For instance, I ask you to take a moment and close your eyes and think of Mother Teresa. Imagine not just what she looked like, but also the work she did helping the poor and disadvantage, the kindness she showed, the words of grace she spoke and the love that radiated from her being. Do you see her in your head? Do you feel her in your heart, her essence, her light? Good.  Now, I ask you again to think of just Mother Teresa’s appearance. My guess is that now, you are seeing beauty. She magically seems ethereal and beautiful and someone that you would want to be near.

     

    This is because Beauty Is an Expression of Love.

     

    Yes… that is what true beauty is. It is the energy that radiates from love. This is why when we see a rainbow and we look up at it and we are mesmerized by the vibrancy of the colors after the rain and we feel the air that is misty and cleansing. We feel uplifted. That rainbow opened up our hearts and we saw beauty. Or, when we see a piece of art that we just can’t take our eyes off of because something stirs deep inside of us. Is it the love that the artist felt as she painted the painting? Was she channeling beauty into each brush stroke, as she gingerly let the paint glide onto the canvas creating a splash of color that if you looked closely, seems messy but when you take a step back, you feel the energy of her joy, her life and or her soul?

     

    The secret is, that we are all beautiful. It doesn’t matter what we physically look like. Our height, our weight, our skin color, our hair style, our clothing… none of that is what determines beauty. I am sure you have heard the old adage, “Beauty is only skin deep.” We know that means that physical beauty is superficial and that true beauty is from emotional and spiritual qualities that shape our character. However, we are bombarded with images, media and often our own self talk contradicting the true meaning of beauty. What happens is that we tend to forget about being beautiful and instead focus on our outward appearance and image. So, how do we change this perception and embrace beauty?

     

    We need to allow ourselves to be beautiful.

     

    Since beauty is an expression of Love, we first need to love ourselves. I know, you may be thinking, I need to change this or change that and then I would love myself. This is how I use to be and I sometimes I still fall into that trap. You see, I have struggled with weight most of my life and as a kid, I was teased extensively about my freckles and my turned-up nose. But I am going to tell you… you do not need to change anything about you. You are already perfect. You are already beautiful. You were created by divine energy. Beauty is already living inside of you. It just needs to be awakened.  To let your true essence shine, just like Mother Teresa’s spirit radiated in your mind, you will need to allow yourself to accept, feel and receive love.

     

    Well, you may be thinking, that is easier said then done. The thing is, in our culture, we often talk about what or who we love but rarely discuss about loving ourselves. We have this fear of being narcissistic or conceited or some other term that actually doesn’t describe self-love but instead describes fear, separation and low self-esteem. People who truly love themselves, who recognize that it is just as important to receive love as it is to give love, radiate. People want to be near them. This is because their inner beauty is shining through.

     

    So, how do you go about tapping into your own beauty? There are many ways to this, from prayer and meditation, self-reflection, mantras, commitment and sheer will. However, the following exercise is what has worked for me.

     

    First, find a quiet place where you can be alone for a minimum of 5 minutes. You can lay down on your bed, sit in a chair or stand- just whatever is comfortable for you. I actually did the exercise I am about to lay out for you this morning in shower. Once you are in your space, then take a couple of slow deep breaths just to feel relaxed. I usually breathe in through my nose and count to 5 or 6 and then release the air with my mouth open with the same count I used taking in the air. Do this a minimum of three times… lately, I have been needing to do the breathing more than three times, and that is ok. You will know when you are relaxed. This should not be a chore and you will find after the second or third deep breath that you can easily do this step without counting or thinking about it. You will know intuitively when you are relaxed enough for the next step.

     

    Once you are relaxed, then the next step is to think about your heart in the middle of your chest. Visualize where it is at and then focus on that spot. Don’t worry about technicalities… you don’t need to know exactly where the organ heart is at since you are going to focus on the “feeling” part of your heart… you know, that place that gets tight when you are stressed or flutters when that special person touches your hand or that warmness you feel when you hold a baby or a puppy. Yes, that spot. Now, feel the energy in the center of that spot. This may take a several seconds or even a minute or two if you are not in the routine of thinking about this part of you. Once you feel the center of your heart begin to imagine the energy of your heart swirling in a circle. At first, this circle may be small, maybe only an inch or two wide.  This energy swirls in either a clockwise or counter clockwise path. It doesn’t matter which, you will know what is right for you. You can even imagine it going in one direction for several rotations and then going the other direction and then back again. You know what feels right for you. Now, let the circle of energy expand to the width of your chest, where the bottom of the circle is just past your ribs and the top of it is by your throat. Feel the energy of the circle as it expands and swirls.

    After you feel comfortable with the swirling heart energy, and it seems to swirl on its own without you having to concentrate or think about it, your heart is now open. This is the state where you can start programming your heart for love. As the circle continues to swirl, in your head or out loud, say the following:

    I RECEIVE LOVE

    I ACCEPT LOVE

    I AM LOVE

    Say these three phrases over and over again and as you say each phrase, visualize the love coming to you from everyone and everything, all that is or God or whatever gives that feeling of connection. As that love comes to you, visualize that circle of energy accepting the love and that the love now swirls with the circle you’ve created. The love is filling your heart and as it keeps coming in, you will feel love permeate throughout your whole body as each cell inside of you receives that love. It is like pouring water into a funnel and then water goes into a huge vessel. The water is the love, your heart is the funnel and your body is the vessel. You become love.  

     

    At first, doing this exercise in love may seem strange and you may even get emotional doing this practice. If you cry, that is OK. Sometimes when our hearts are closed for a long time and we start to open up, we will release with tears. This is the way we discard the things we no longer need to hold in our hearts. I promise, the more you do this, the less uncomfortable it will feel. Even if you do shed a few tears, you may experience different emotions including peace and joy.  But if you do not feel lighter after the first couple of times doing the practice, that is OK.  If this type of practice is new to you, it may take a while for the uneasiness to dissipate and the peaceful, loving and blissful feelings to take over.

     

    When you have completed these steps, but before you go about your day, you will want to end with your own mantra on beauty. This mantra should be something that you are comfortable with, something that you could say to yourself throughout the day, with or without doing the above practice first.  For me, I say the following…” I am a beautiful, light being from the divine.” This is what works for me, but I have also just stated things like… “I am beautiful” or “My beauty radiates out to the world.” It is OK if you do not believe the mantra at first. Most of us are used to negative self-talk but tend to shy away from positive affirmations. I would say that I did some form of this practice very sporadically over a 10-year period before I committed to it and saw results. In fact, it wasn’t until strangers coming up to me and telling me that I was beautiful that I felt confident in doing this exercise of love and beauty. The first couple of times that someone complimented me on my beauty, it seemed so weird and out of left field to me. My face and body language gave away my doubt because they would say things like “I am not trying to hit on you, there is just something about you that is so beautiful” or they would say, “you just have this glow about you that I felt I had to tell you that you are beautiful.” Eventually, I just happily accepted the compliments and smiled.

     

    Please keep in mind, that the steps I have laid out work for me. However, it is not the only way to be beautiful. Remember, Beauty is an Expression of Love. This expression happens when you truly love yourself. You may already be there or you may have another routine that puts you in that state of self-love where you emit beauty. Regardless, just know that you are love and you are beautiful. Believe. And. Be Beautiful.

     

    About the author: Theresa Touhey is the owner of Nature Reflections, an online jewelry store that specializes in nature-inspired and handcrafted jewelry. She is also an artist, a writer, a grandmother, a caregiver to a rescued Havanese dog and a nature lover. She has practiced various forms of meditation and yoga for  over 30 years.

    10 Things I am Grateful for During the Pandemic

    10 Things I am Grateful for During the Pandemic

     

     

    I think it is safe to say, that if we all had our choice, we would prefer a world without a pandemic than one with it. It has not been easy times for any of us and for some people, it has been completely devastating. However, sometimes when you are going through difficult times, it is good to reflect and see what lessons and positive things that have happened as a result. These are just 10 things in no particular order that I have experienced and I hope that this little article shines some light your way.

     

     

    • My Hair. When I was younger, I experimented with my hair all of the time. I had so many different hair styles and hair colors. Then, I worked at serious jobs and incorporated more serious hair styles and natural colors. Over the past decade or so, I have pretty much had the same hairstyle and the only difference was with or without bangs. But, while working from home, I have trimmed my own bangs and I have colored my hair pink, bleached my hair and then colored it a pinkish orange. The colors were temporary and have washed out but it felt good to do something different and not feel like I had to conform in any way.

     

    • Redecorating.  I am still in the process of redecorating my house but I like that I had the time to really think things through and make some changes. The main project that I just completed was to paint my guest room and move my office to this room. The room was painted a dark greenish gray 10 years ago. Then, I felt it was modern but over the years, I felt the room was dark and depressing. Now, it is painted a white with the lightest tinge of blue. It feels bright and happy and I love working in this room. The next two makeovers will be my bathrooms and I am looking forward to doing that project. I have also moved art work to different rooms and walls to change things up. I feel like my house is having not only a new sense of purpose but a lighter and brighter personality.
       
      • Spending time with my dog. Three years ago, my dog was diagnosed with end stage liver disease and given just a few months to live. I am so fortunate that I had found a holistic vet who did some experimental treatments and that my little fur baby is thriving. However, I am always aware that his time here is not long and with the pandemic, I get to spend more time with him. He sits next to me and sleeps when I work and he follows me around the house and when I am struggling with something, all I have to do is look at his cute face and I melt. Spending time with him is special and I am so fortunate that I now have more time to be with him.
       
      • Experiencing nature in my backyard. I’ve always noticed the birds chirping in the morning and I loved waking up to their music. Now, working from home, I get a couple of more hours of the sounds of the birds and nature. I watch the squirrels running across my fence more than I had in the past and I notice when plants bloom. In Florida during the summer months, rain would cause havoc with leaving work between getting wet and extra traffic. Now, when it rains, I will stand in the opening of the back door and take in the coolness of the dropping temperature and the feeling of renewal. I like listening to the sound of the rain hitting the roof and the back patio and watching the drops slowly cascade off of the plants and trees. It makes my yard a little oasis.
        •  Talking to family more on the phone. Before Covid-19, I would chat with my son and sister about once every week or two. Now, I talk with both of them a few times a week. I feel like my connection to both of them has grown stronger. Though I have always appreciated family, the virus has made me more aware of how special all of my family members are and how fortunate I am that they are part of my life experience. I am so grateful that during the past few months, when I would be in a temporary darker place, that they brought me light, love and support.
        •  Experiencing my grandsons in a new way. Don’t get me wrong, I miss those little boys. Wesley is now 6 and Shane is 4 and they are bundles of energy and delight and nothing feels better than hugs from these two boys. However, if I wanted to continue a relationship with them, I needed to change how we do things. Now, we chat on Duo (Android’s answer to Facetime) and we have played Roblox (a multi-person video game platform that is popular with kids) together. I have used technology with them that I rarely used prior and I got to do things that they wanted to do instead of me or their parents dictating the interaction. This is good for our relationship because they enjoyed showing and teaching me new things and it shows them that I am open to change, even at my age.
        •  In regards to technology, I had watched You Tube videos sporadically over the past decade. Usually when I would watch, it was to look up an old music video from the 80s, a show that I had missed or how to do something in Excel. However, with the pandemic, I have discovered so many content creators that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Since I love to travel, I started searching travel videos and stumbled across Tangerine Travels. Tangerine Travels is a 20-something year old couple who is living and traveling through Mexico and who sometimes make stops in Las Vegas. They are budget friendly travelers but what kept me watching their videos is their personality. They are down to earth, funny, informative and a little bit dorky… meaning that they are real, make mistakes and have no trouble poking fun at themselves. They are also very respectful of the places they travel and like to dispel myths. I am so glad I discovered their highly entertaining and informative videos.
        •  Another thing that I am grateful for is the time to do some self-reflection. For me, being alone and having quiet gave me an opportunity to look over past relationships and evaluate areas in which I can improve. I’ve been able to work on visualizing the things I do want in my life and take stock of what is truly important to me. I am thankful that I got this time to reflect, ponder and explore who I am, what I stand for and how I want to make an impact.
        •  And the reason I was able to do some self-reflection is because during Covid-19, I got a chance to slow down. No more driving in traffic hectically to my office, checking messages at every stop light or multi-tasking talking to someone while working on something else. And with this slow down, I’ve been able to add in more time for mediation, prayer and appreciation of everything that I do have. I have reduced much of the stress that I was carrying around on a daily basis, and I came to this realization when I have to leave the home and shop for goods and that fight or flight reaction starts kicking in. This is something that I was living with all the time without even realizing it.
        • As a small business owner, I have become even more grateful for my customers and supporters. Owning NatureReflectionsJewelry.com has always brought me joy, but during the past months, it has also brought me a sense of community. I am more engaged with my customers and I am looking at ways to connect in more meaningful ways. And, I am also looking at other small businesses, cheering on their success and making more conscientious efforts to shop from them, both online and locally.
         

        These are just 10 of the many things that I feel have shifted for me during the pandemic. Living and being alone isn’t always easy, but I am grateful. I have my health, I have a roof over my head, I have loving family and friends and a dog that is the cutest thing ever. There has always been that adage, “What will you be the most grateful for when you are on your deathbed?” I feel that with the pandemic, I have been given the opportunity to really reflect and focus on the things that matter most.

         

        I would love to hear what you’ve come to appreciate during the pandemic. Please feel free to comment. And thank you so much for reading and following Nature Reflections.

         

        About the author: Theresa Touhey is a small business owner, an artist, a blogger, a lover of animals and nature and the grandmother of 2 adorable boys and the caregiver of a rescued Havanese dog. 

        The 6 Best Places to Buy Garden Seeds Online

        The 6 Best Places to Buy Garden Seeds Online

        We have guest content in our blog today! 

        Herman Samano, from Porch.com, reached out to me after seeing my blog post on 100 Things You Can Do During Social Distancing. Since I mentioned gardening, he thought this article would be a good fit for my site and I completely agree! I've always been a big proponent of shopping online and with physical distancing, it is helpful to know that there are lots of seed providers out there to help us grow our own fruits, vegetables and plants. 

        Whether you are an advance gardener, or a novice, this article is great for anyone who is looking for any advice on how to harvest their own organic vegetablesnative plants, or an edible flower garden at home!

        Times are uncertain right now so I wanted to share an article that all gardening lovers could use to make their backyard useful and make the best out of their time at home. Please be aware, some of the providers below may have temporarily suspended new orders due to the overwhelming increase in home gardens. However, as things change, they will be able to ship again. Their sites are also filled with lots of growing tips and information, so I decided to keep them listed in this article supplied by Porch.com. 

         

        The 6 Best Places to Buy Garden Seeds Online

        Bring your garden to the next level with these top-notch sources for rare, heirloom, and high quality seeds.

        Spring is officially here, and that means it’s time to buy seeds for your garden.

        You can find a variety of seeds at your local hardware store. But if you want to grow a garden that’s a cut above, you’ll need to go online. Whether you’re in the market for organic vegetables, native plants, or that perfect shade of peony for your cutting garden, these shops are where you’ll find what you’re looking for.

        Take a look at our six favorite places to buy seeds online, and get ready to make your garden better than it’s ever been before!

        1. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

        With the largest variety of rare and heirloom seeds in the United States, an always-gorgeous, free color catalog, and an endlessly knowledgeable online community, it’s no wonder that Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is a favorite of Martha Stewart and Oprah. If you’re interested in vegetables, fruits, and flowers that you can’t find anywhere else, then you’ll love getting lost in Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds’ stunning online catalog.

        2. Seed Savers Exchange

        Boasting impossible-to-find gems such as the hot orange Jaune Flamme tomato, the delicately-scented Queen Anne’s Pocket melon, and the bizarre (but delicious) Jelly Melon cucumber, Seed Savers Exchange will delight adventurous gardeners and plain old tasty veggie fans alike. Becoming a member will even get you access to the Seed Savers community exchange boards, where gardeners and farmers from around the world trade rare seeds for nothing but the cost of shipping.

        3. Burpee

        Although the Burpee seed catalog doesn’t boast a wide array of exotic varieties, they’ve hit the mark on offering a range of solid gardener favorites since 1881. Burpee’s seeds can be counted on to get the highest yield and have the best resistance to disease, which makes them ideal for beginner gardeners and seasoned pros alike. They also offer a wide variety of tomato seedlings that arrive at your door ready to plant in the ground.

        4. Seeds of Change

        100% certified organic seed at Seeds of Change means that you can shop confidently for your organic garden, without having to worry about pesticide residues or GMOs. This California company offers a vast selection of heirloom, organic and hybrid varieties, making it popular among conventional and organic gardeners alike. The best part: the site lists detailed growing instructions for each variety on its website, so you can remember how far apart to plant your seedlings without having to keep track of those pesky little seed packets.

        5. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

        With over 700 varieties of seeds that are optimized to grow well in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, it’s no wonder this Virginia company is a regional favorite. In addition to listing all kinds of delicious and useful varieties, Southern Exposure is home to a constantly growing selection of historic Southern varieties such as peanutscowpeasroselle, and butterbeans. Check out their Virginia Heritage Collection for twelve varieties of heirloom vegetables that will taste great on any Southern table.

        6. Territorial Seed Company

        Territorial Seed Company is another local favorite, with an array of varieties optimized to succeed in the Northwest, as well as a great selection of plants that do well nationally. Here, you’ll find seeds, plants, fruits, vines, herbs, garlic, and potatoes, as well as tools, books, and thorough growing guides. All of Territorial’s products are backed by a full guarantee, so you can fearlessly attempt the newest varieties of carrots, lettuces, and tomatoes.

         

        What’s on your garden list this year? Will you be trying anything new?