The Dirt on Ordering Seeds...
I had this idea in my head that the farming would slow down in the winter...it hasn't! I have spent almost every extra minute of every day, thinking about, reading about, obsessing about soil, fertilizer, heirloom varieties and most importantly what I am going to plant this spring. With all of this sifting around in my head, there is a constant beat in the background, a drum that beats for March. March is seed starting month, and I have more than ever to be thinking about when I think of March. I have ordered almost 200 packets of seeds...yup...200!!! I will plant the majority of them when March finally creeps up on me. The thing that I have found to be overwhelming, and I am hoping that I am not alone, is sorting through all of the seed catalogs. There are pages and pages of varieties; I want to plant them all. I need forty acres, I have already got the mule, so to speak. I have found a few tricks to ordering and I would like to share some of them with you.
2. Read reviews: They are so valuable. Things that don't produce well, or don't do well in particular climates are good to know about. Seeds that have poor germination or came up as something completely different than what they should have been are things that I have read in reviews. Probably the most important piece of information to me is how it tasted. I have been so tempted to buy a certain tomato, but every single review written about it says that it is beautiful, but has no flavor. What good is a tomato with no flavor? That's like enjoying the sun without warmth to me, utterly pointless. Every time I was drawn to this tomato, there they were oodles (not just one) review shouting out to me, "don't do it"!!! Reading reviews can save you heartache and money.
6. Be fearless and try something new: There is nothing more exciting to me than growing something new. I usually take a leap of faith on a few new plants every year. This is how we learn and grow by trying something that stretches our minds. The best part is that there are new flavors and tastes to explore, new beautiful plants to watch grow, and something new to fascinate you in the garden.
7. Think about what you cook and eat: If you absolutely detest broccoli, why would you order three packets of seeds? (For the record, I could never detest broccoli...one of my favorites.) I often read through cookbooks when I order seeds because it gives me a sense of what I can cook with all of this glorious food. The great advantage about loving all vegetables is that I get the fun of planting all of it. Think about what you are going to do with your produce. If you are a salsa garden person, make sure you stick to tomatoes, peppers, cilantro and onions. If you adore beans, make sure you plant a number of different beans that will interest you throughout the season.
8. Think about how much space you have: It is easy to get carried away and order way too many things. We all make this mistake at least once, but the saving grace of such a mistake is that many seeds will be viable for up to five years if stored properly. You got radish happy and ordered too many radishes? Store them away for next spring in a dark, dry place, and hopefully you can use them next spring.
8. Have fun: Don't forget to have fun while you are picking and choosing your seeds. There are pictures to gawk at, strange plants to twist your mind, and things that make you drool all over your catalogs in excitement and anticipation (melons...drool...)! Show the pages to your kids, let them pick something to plant. This is supposed to be fun, make sure you don't get too serious!