Spring Starts

Shopping for seedlings in L.A.

From soil composition to the varying greenness of so many thumbs, gardening is an exercise in managing variables.

But if there's one way to improve your chances of a successful harvest, it's to leave the seed-sprouting to the professionals and plant seedlings instead. Here, a few of our favorite sprouters:

Hayground Organic Gardening This Hollywood and Santa Monica farmers'-market regular sells many an obscure plant variety, including finger lime trees. Owner Jimmy Williams also sells his own personal heirloom, the Goose Creek tomato. Each tomato plant is descended from a pocketful of seeds that Williams's great-great-grandmother smuggled aboard the slave ship that took her from West Africa to Goose Creek, South Carolina.

Ardenwood Edibles This Pasadena kitchen-garden design and seedling company sells their starter plants at Burkard Nurseries and the Altadena Urban Farmers' Market. Their organic offerings include regional Italian squash varieties, like the phenomenally lengthy Serpente di Sicilia.

Tomatomania This traveling tomato-seedling sale started at a Pasadena nursery back when tomatoes were only red and round. Two decades later, the sale features approximately 300 different varieties, including the green-and-yellow striped Michael Pollan hybrid. Tomatomania hits L.A. this weekend at the Tapia Brothers' Farm Stand in Encino (click here for details).