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Time for Seed Catalogs

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by Barbara Briggs Ward

Time for Seed Catalogs

How quickly after it’s over does Christmas get packed up in boxes and tucked away for another year. Slick catalogs selling everything from clothing to toys are replaced by those picturing countless vegetables in endless varieties. When those seed catalogs start arriving, I know it’s time to think ahead to the planning of the garden and that’s as exciting as reaping its benefits.

Where I live Amish farms dot the landscape. Driving by their homes I can already see little white styrofoam cups sitting in the windows. Their gardens are underway with winter’s sun nurturing the seeds. When spring arrives and they’ve turned the soil ahead of any schedule I may have considered, the cups will be taken outside and the plants-a good size by then-placed in the churned up earth. It doesn’t take long for those sprouts to take hold.
That’s all seems so far away now with the snow falling and the wind blowing as I sit down to sort through the catalogs. It’s quite an experience-seeing all those beautifully presented vegetables on every glossy page while winter holds us hostage. Every year on those pages there are more types, more trees and shrubs, more fruits, more must-have utensils, more deals and better buys. My creative eye tends to go to creative covers despite competitors featuring produce shined to perfection. Of late there are an increasing number of organic catalogs waiting for me. I like their covers too as I do those sent by family farms and those from geographic locations I’d never dreamed could grow vegetables.

I have a method of choosing what I’ll order. I divide the catalogs into categories-such as organic-regular-new-probably not. With a legal pad and cup of coffee, the process of elimination begins. I go back and forth checking the same items in the different catalogs. Crossing one off and then adding another is an ordeal that goes on for a good week-maybe more. Basic items always to be ordered include pumpkins, gourds, tomatoes, peppers of all kinds, corn, potatoes, cucumbers, beets, onions, carrots, zucchini, acorn squash, banana squash-and more. Just the thought of the next garden to be planted is both uplifting and exhausting for a garden is more than work. A garden is a commitment.

If you’ve never tried gardening, you might want to consider it. This is the time of the year to do so. Gardens take planning. Use the internet for information. Get yourself some seed catalogs. You might want to start out small. Then if you find the experience enjoyable you could add new items to your list the next year. Maybe you’ll learn you prefer getting your vegetables at the supermarket!

There’s something about looking through a seed catalog in the grip of winter. The contrast of the brilliant hues of the vegetables against the starch whiteness of winter is soulful. With the earth frozen in place, imagining a plot of land rototilled and planted with carrot tops and beets and squash and the like peeking out to say hello is a very hard thing to do. But it’s not impossible. Just drive by some Amish farms and see their window gardens already sprouting.

Tags: boomers memories gardeners seeds winter

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