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How to Plan Your Spring Garden with Seed Catalogs

Garden in winter

Image Creative Commons by Harry Alverson

My favorite week of the year is the week between Christmas and New Year's. No, it's not because of all the post-Christmas shopping specials. We don't do that out here on the prairie. It's because it's the week that my rural mailbox becomes inundated with bunches of garden and seed catalogs for the spring planting season.

Yes, I understand that most of you will just look them up on the internet. But there is no greater pleasure than spreading all the catalogs out on top of the table in front of the fireplace while looking outside at 18 inches of snow and sub-zero temperatures.

Planning, planning, planning. This is so important when selecting your garden seed purchases. I already have my garden sizes measured and planned out before I even look at the catalogs. Of course I'm a detail freak, and I keep substantial records and logs on all my gardens. For example, I know that my potato plant rows will take 20 potato sets, each planted 20 inches apart.

Planning your garden helps assure that you purchase the proper amount of seeds. But it's not always 100% guaranteed. You always find something different in the catalogs that you want to try, and you always over-purchase.

Education, education, education. You can learn and find so much information in your garden and seed catalogs. For example, a lot of people purchase their tomato plants at a store without knowing whether they are determinate or indeterminate.

Determinates ripen over three to four weeks on bushy vines, while indeterminate vines continue to grow and produce fruit all season until frost. You can also learn which tomatoes are hybrids, heirlooms, disease resistant and on and on.

One of my biggest problems with garden and seed catalogs is their minimum shipping charges. Sometimes I only want to purchase a couple of packages of seeds from a specific company, and their minimum shipping charges make this type of purchase a little expensive.

Receiving garden and seed catalogs is very easy. Once you order one catalog, the rest of the industry seems to find out about you, and you receive them from all over the country. I usually purchase from companies closer to where I live so I know that their plants and seeds have been raised in the same hardiness zone.

Some of my favorite catalogs are Gurney's, Jung, Burgess, Totally Tomatoes, Vermont Bean, Henry Field's and Farmer Seed & Nursery.

And now would be a great time for me to enter a couple of my gardening harvest vegetable recipes … but I have to go grab the snow shovel and work on the driveway again. Besides, this website already has lots of wonderful vegetable recipes.

See ya, Farmer Dan.