The Master Gardeners at Cornell Cooperative Extension are always offering free gardening advice through classes and hotlines.  Their latest advice is ordering seed and nursery catalogs, it's like getting free educational text books. 

More than a list of products, catalogs offer a wealth of knowledge on what grows best in central New York, which plants are annuals or perennials, soil requirements and in the case of vegetables; how long it takes for fruit to form, and even disease resistance.

Companies also provide helpful tips for growing better plants or provide design ideas. If you want to try to grow plants from another era, there are catalogs featuring "heirloom" varieties.  And with the pictures they provide, you can get some new ideas and place names and faces of the plants you want to grow.

There are literally hundreds of catalogs to choose from, most are free while some charge a nominal fee; it's worth the cost in terms of the educational value. has a huge selection of catalogs including links to their websites.  And of course the Master Gardeners offer many online fact sheets or call their horticulture hotline at 315-736-3394 .

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