Oh, it’s that time of year… Garden Dreamin’ …on such a Winter’s day!
Hi folks! Yup, in December the annual seed catalogs started to arrive. Let’s see who we have here: A gorgeous one from the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (overflowing with seed varieties); a sweet and glossy catalog from Annie’s Heirloom Seeds; a potato-packed, half-sized catalog from Wood Prairie Family Farm – with a new potato variety, Keuka Gold, on the cover; and hmm, apparently we are on a new mailing list because I see Mr.Gordon received a quaint black and white one from The Maine Potato Lady. Ironically we do not receive a printed catalog from the company we’ve ordered most of our seeds from, the Hudson Valley Seed Co. That’s okay, we know how to find them online. 😉 (Actually, we do all of our ordering online, but the printed seed catalogs are a luxury to browse on a dark evening under the lamplight.)
And the Winner for Best Seed Catalog Cover Is…
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange! I mean, that is just awesome.
But, it’s not only about the joy of browsing and dreaming, of wondering if it would be silly to grow 20 different varieties of tomatoes – Mr. Gordon would probably not so much go for that – it’s also about learning.
If you have been reading along with us, you might remember our “horror story” related to evil squash bugs and our poor, beautiful Black Beauty Zucchini plants. Our favorite zucchini plants. Our prolific, wonderful, most-flavorful-zucchinis-ever plants.
The story can be found here Ugh! Squash Bug Eggs! and here Dealing with Garden Pests. I’m sorry to report that the squash bugs won last year. They killed our several big Black Beauty Zucchini plants. As much as I lamented not getting hardly any zucchini last year, I honestly was more upset by the cruel death the bleeping squash bugs inflicted on these generous plants.
So what to do? Mr. Gordon is a great researcher and has some plans for Garden 2020 that include: transplanting our Black Beauty Zucchini plants into the garden later in the spring season and covering with fabric crop cover. The theory – purported by some – is that the squash bugs will already have picked a place to be and lay eggs, so the late transplanted zucchinis will be less affected.
Hey, I’m willing to try it!
But let’s get back to the topic of this post: learning via browsing seed catalogs. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange included this note with their description of Black Beauty Zucchini:
“Our observations over several seasons indicate that Black Beauty attracts squash bugs much more than other varieties and we have used it successfully as a trap plant for hand-picking squash bugs.”
I have to admit when I read this information from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, I was a little discouraged. Use it as a trap plant? Well, that is good advice, and trust me, the squash bugs DO seem to zero in on the variety. (While the squash bugs did eventually migrate up to our Yellow Squash and Honeynut Squash in a different garden of ours, they did not swarm those plants as much as the Black Beauty Zucchini.)
So, I will tell you now that I do not plan on using my Black Beauties as a sacrificial plant this year. I will be using all the tips and tricks that I can implement. Wish me luck.
But I still appreciated the shared experience and wisdom from the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange seed catalog. That is helpful to know.
One more little “educational note” that I wanted to point out. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange also shares other news on plants that are “at risk” – so if you as a gardener / plant steward want to help particular endangered species, you can learn about some of them and order seed for your own contribution back into the “wild.” (Bekah, if you read this post, what are your thoughts on folks ordering and planting in “our woodlands”? I can see pros and cons of those activities.)
I believe I learned about Annie’s Heirloom Seeds from another blogger’s website.
Gorgeous photos – the products of a labor of love in full color.
She gives great growing tips and shares her preferences nestled in among plant / seed descriptions
Her “voice” is kindly and these little notes throughout the catalog are like listening to a friend share ideas and wisdom.
Last year we ordered our potato seedlings from Wood Prairie Family Farm. Worth. Every. Penny. We ordered three varieties and they produced wonderfully in our garden. Highly recommend! (The company also provides information via social media on laws, actions that affect farmers, growers – especially with regards to what big AG is up to.)
We also appreciate that throughout their catalog, they provide detailed charts about potato varieties, including size, scab resistance, yield, color of flower, blight tolerance, etc. VERY helpful.
All these reasons – and more – are why we recommend reading through your seed catalogs, even if you have the seeds in hand. There are always lessons to be learned.
And while you can discuss the good reasons to not use printed materials – especially since we have the almighty internet at hand – let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. There are opportunities to learn from the printed page, and good arguments for “getting offline.” 🙂
As I… mentioned… in the opening to this post, I don’t receive a printed catalog from Hudson Valley Seed Co. (I tend to source most of my seeds from there, though.) So during a browse of the website, I noted this little gem.
Extra points, HVSC, for your sense of humor:
“Will go with almost any Martha Stewart dining room set.” – Source HVSC
And now… the State of the Gardens
Well, we’re a bit under water. I swear, we live on a sponge.
Here’s the upper garden. We have three kinds of garlic and a variety of shallots over-wintering here. (Seed garlic and shallots from Hudson Valley Seed Co.) Oh, I hope they do well. The wet is just… so much.
Would you like to take a cold swim between our rows? This is one reason why we do no till, raised bed, plant directly in compost gardening. The plants need that buffer between them and the saturated ground throughout the year.
Ever see my garden-squish video from a couple of years ago?
So there you have it!
What are YOUR favorite seed catalogs – and what have you learned? Please share in comments below!
Links to our favorite seed resources:
- Hudson Valley Seed Co.
- Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
- Annie’s Heirloom Seeds
- Wood Prairie Family Farm
Mr. Gordon gave me a pair of those “claw gardening gloves” for Christmas this past year. See the Amazon ad /affiliate link below. Can’t wait to try them out!