Grit Blogs > The Urban Bystander

Garden Planning: Can't Wait to Dig In

Assorted Seed Catalogs 

My mailbox has been filling up in recent weeks. While a part of me hates to think of the number of trees that have been sacrificed to produce this year's crop of seed catalogs, another part of me is jumping up and down with glee.

 It is finally time to begin planning the 2012 garden. That's right! Regardless of whether or not the world ends on December 21st (as predicted by the Mayans)we still want fresh veggies to enjoy throughout the summer and fall.

 I always approach the garden with such optimism. The plan usually includes some innovative design plot that I've seen over the years at nearby Cornell University. When I'm in garden planning mode, weeds drought and garden pests don't exist. Instead, every vegetable is envisioned in a blemish free state and is the epitome of perfection.

 Tomato Start in Greenhouse

Despite all of the choices offered by the seed companies, we actually buy very little. We have lots of commercially packaged seed from prior gardening years. We are also fairly good seed savers with much of the saved seed coming from heirloom & non-hybrid vegetable varieties. This means that we will see fairly consistent results from the seeds that we collect each year.

Salad Green Boxes  

Last year, we grew groundcherries for the first time. Related to the tomato, the plants were started in the greenhouse and did very well in our soil. Those seeds were the result of a particularly wonderful seed swap that we do with an internet friend in Wyoming.

 Groundcherries 2011 

We have seeds to grow the things that we like to eat & some for things that we don't!  Unloved seeds, like okra and rutabaga, are traded away to people that actually (shudder) like to eat them. Seed swaps are an excellent way to taste test new veggies and to see if they will do well in your type of soil.

 Daily Harvest 2011 

Each year, we decide to try a few new varieties of something but we try to spend exactly $26. Why $26? Because many of the seed companies offer free shipping or discount coupons redeemable on purchases over $25. A good portion of that $26 is spent on permaculture. Things that we can plant once and reap the harvest from for a number of years. Though I love to garden, I really don't like to work so hard at it!


charles mallory
2/9/2012 2:07:38 PM

Yes, this is the time of year to get those seed catalogs with their bright, tempting pix and to dream of warm weather! I'm not there with you on okra, but don't get why everyone doesn't love rutabaga.

cindy murphy
2/8/2012 6:19:01 PM

Hi, Carolyn. I've got one of those 'buy $25 dollars worth, get $25 dollars free" seed catalogs sitting on my kitchen table now, and have pretty much decided to order. Usually, I buy my seeds and vegetable seedlings from the nursery where I work (we sell Botanical Interests seeds - great seed company also). My kitchen table catalog has 'Black Krim' tomato seedlings though, and different varieties of sweet potato slips that I want to try. I fell in love with 'Black Krim' tomatoes last year when we had them at the nursery, but don't want to risk missing out this year if our grower doesn't have them. Onion sets, fingerling and Kennebec potatoes, and pepper seedlings should round out my order - no seeds in the bunch; those I'll get at work when it's time to sow into the ground. I so agree with your last sentence - "I love to garden, but don't want to work so hard at it!" I love the hard, back-breaking kind of work; it's the fussing over starting seeds that I don't really like.

nebraska dave
2/7/2012 1:36:03 AM

Carolyn, I have accumulated quite a collection of seed catalogs this year as well. It's really hard to decide who to buy from. Most of my section has come from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I read their book that has just been published. I was shocked to find it in my local library. Their seed catalog is amazing just to look through. It's the best by far of any of the others. Their history was fun to read as well. If you are interested in seeing the catalog just do a search on the Internet for "Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds" and it get you to their Website which has an on-line catalog. I was glad to see that Walmart has switched seed companies and now stocks Burpee's seeds instead of Morse-Ferry. I've never had much success with Ferry-Morse seeds. I wish you much success in your gardening experiences this year. Have a great day planning the garden.

mary carton
2/7/2012 12:18:15 AM

With all the rain, my garden has standing water, the tiller is on the tractor, but doesn't look like I'll be able to play for a while. I planted my Brussel sprouts in my flower bed