My mail box was full during the month of December as the mail person stuffed it with the usual mail, holiday greetings, ads, and SEED CATALOGS. While I was too busy then to pay much attention to the seed catalogs, I have been enjoying them since the flurry of the holidays. I love looking through them and time passes too quickly as I study, dream, and plot for spring. We don’t get as many catalogs as we did in by-gone years as many seed companies now put their catalogs online instead of printing and mailing. This is likely due to cost and “greener” living but I love having the catalogs in hand for studying and comparing the different varieties. It’s so easy to mark pages with sticky notes and flip back and forth.
A delicious or beautiful summer garden of vegetables and/or flowers, starts with planning and picking out seeds and plants now. Whether you shop for seeds or plants from a catalog, online, or garden center, it can be an overwhelming task deciding what to plant. Here are a few tips that I use to keep my seed or plant orders manageable and not let my eyes and imagination get bigger than the time and space I have to plant.
It’s not necessary to plant everything from seed. The annual plants in my garden come from a mix of seeds, plants purchased at plant sales and garden centers once spring arrives, and plants shared by friends. The seeds I purchase and start are usually a variety that intrigue me or that I don’t think I will be able to find locally. Many of the seed catalogs also offer plant offerings so if only one or two plants are desired, it might be more economical to purchase the plant than the seed.
Plant what you will eat and/or preserve in the vegetable garden. While I would encourage anyone to broaden their vegetable and fruit palate, planting vegetables and herbs that are not favorites is not in your best interest. Be sure to consider space considerations; some plants like pumpkins and squash require a lot of space. And remember, it doesn’t take too many plants of anything to fill your needs.
Try something new. Each year, we save space to experiment with a new edible or flowering plant or a different variety of something familiar just to broaden our experience, knowledge and palate, if edible.
Include some pollinators. Adding a few beneficial flowers to the vegetable garden will boost your edible yields and may also provide some natural pest control. My personal favorites are zenias as both bees and hummingbirds love them, they are so easy to seed and grow, and they make great cut flowers. The choices in zenia varieties seems to be every expanding, too.
Care for unused seeds. Seed packets may contain more seeds that needed. Most seeds can be stored for one or two years and still produce great results in your garden. The key is to store them properly. Seed Savers Exchange offers some great tips for storing seeds. Another alternative is to share them with friends.
If you would like to receive some seed catalogs or are looking for something specific (organic, heirloom, etc), here are some online sources to help you as well as some other ideas to get you started with your spring planting:
Enjoy the season! It will soon be time to start some of those seeds under lights.