Tag Archives: seed catalogs

Catalog Season

Earlier this week Andy handed me a new seed catalog. I hadn’t gotten any in the mail yet and so I hadn’t started that delicious daydreaming about springtime, gardening, warm weather, and especially, seeds. So let the daydreaming begin, that’s what January is for if you’re a gardener. I adore seed catalogs; there is something so old fashioned about them. Pictures of impossibly beautiful vegetables and flowers, with over-the top-descriptions of how tasty, productive and gorgeous they are! The earliest, sweetest peas,  the best tomatoes you ever had,  giant pumpkins. The biggest zinnias, the tallest sunflowers, and the most fragrant sweet basil! Not to mention that seeds are one of the best investments you can make. I’m a sucker for all of it, and being a little old-fashioned myself, I like the actual paper catalog in my hand, by the woodstove, with a cup of coffee.

seedcatalog_300Last fall I emptied my two giant cookie tins full of seeds and sorted them with a critical eye. I composted any which were more than three years old, and I was surprised at how many that was.  Time to buy some new seeds. I’m looking at old favorites like Benary Giant Zinnias and Northeaster Pole Beans. I’ve only gone through the Johnny’s and High Mowing catalogs…impatiently awaiting Fedco (top favorite), and Territorial (they are selling wasabi plants!) and Cook’s Garden, and Nichols….  I found many enticing new-to-me varieties: Esterina cherry tomato, (“sweeter than Sungold and resists cracking”!) Listada di Gandia Eggplant, Calypso Pickling Cucumber. Veronica Romanesco Cauliflower: stunning! Or how about Painted Lady Sweet Peas ( “This variety dates to 1737 and was planted by Jefferson at Monticello in the early 1800s.”). I have never had much luck with Sweet Peas –it gets too hot early on here –but I ‘m convinced I should try again…

As I said in this post, every year I plant seeds and every year I am thrilled and amazed when  the seedlings push up through the soil. What are you daydreaming about this January?

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Seed Mania

Is there anything better than starting seeds? It’s something I’ve been doing  since I was a kid…. but every year  I am still thrilled and amazed when the seedlings start to push up through the soil!

seedlings

It starts in January or February with the seed catalogs: mouth-watering descriptions of tomatoes, incredible pictures of impossible flowers. I love reading the catalogs and daydreaming over the possibilities for the garden. More flowers, better vegetables, plant the peas earlier, taller sunflowers! Then there are the seed packets themselves,  with enticing glossy photos of perfect eggplants, or even more fun, vintage style drawings of idealized edibles and flowers.

seed packets

I have plenty of perfectly good seeds safely stored away in a moisture-proof giant butter-cookie tin. But it’s still hard to restrain myself when ordering seeds. All those new varieties to try, and my old favorites! They are so reasonably priced (usually) that there is no better investment.

Think about it: a 0.2 gram packet of  ‘Jet Star’ tomato seeds from Fedco, my favorite catalog and seed company, costs $2.00. There are approximately 60 seeds in that packet. If you plant them all, and get 80% germination, which is a low estimate, you will have 48 tomato plants. If each plant yields 10 tomatoes, at about 8 ounces each, that’s 5 pounds per plant, which is 240 pounds of tomatoes. At last year’s farmer’s market tomatoes were $2.99 a pound. So, you would have $717.60 dollars worth of tomatoes! That’s a  good return on a $2.00 investment over 4 or 5 months.

Naturally,  you may not get 10 tomatoes per plant. It could be less, or more. You may need to purchase compost or fertilizer. And of course, your time is an investment. But since most backyard gardeners are very proud of their tomatoes, time is an investment they enjoy. Not everyone wants 240 pounds of tomatoes. On the other hand, some people think of homegrown veggies as pure gold! As Guy Clark says,  “There’s only two things that money can’t buy, and that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.”

bowl of tomatos

It’s the perfect time to run down to the local garden center and buy a few packages of seeds. Try something new! If you get carried away like I do, and start way more than you can use, share them with a neighbor, a school, a community garden. The chance to watch a seed sprout, unfold, flower, and fruit is…”priceless”.

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