Winter Seed Catalogs and Garden Planning

My spirits tend to get low during the winter – the post-holiday blues, gloomy weather, and reduced outdoors time always get to me. Winter here in NE Utah is long, but I have something to cheer me up and carry me through: seed catalogs and garden planning.

By mid-January, there’s a stack of seed catalogs on the entryway table and I spend spare moments perusing them, circling intriguing varieties, and thinking about how to plan the garden for the year.

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While reading about new seeds is certainly one of the most enjoyable parts of the process, before my husband, Chad, and I decide on what seeds we’ll buy, I make sure to do an assessment of our current seed collection.

This year I decided to write out our entire inventory in our garden notebook, making it so much easier to see what we are low on (kale, carrots, beets) and what we have PLENTY of (winter squash, melons, tomatoes).

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With our handy inventory at the ready, we spent most of this past weekend finalizing our seed selection, and for date night, placed our seed orders.

We have an assortment of favorite seed catalogs, from companies that sell only non-GMO seeds, and offer varieties that are organic, heirloom, and open-pollinated, the later being a necessity for saving seeds.

Here’s where we ordered from this year:

  • Adaptive Seeds – Oregon
  • Baker Creek – Missouri
  • Botanical Interests – Colorado
  • Grow Organic – California
  • Seed Savers Exchange – Iowa
  • Southern Exposure Seed Exchange – Virginia
  • Territorial Seeds – Oregon

We plant a fairly large garden every year, but even so, we needed to set some sort of limit on our seed purchases, otherwise, Chad and I both being seed nerds, we can easily go overboard. Way overboard. (Which – yes – is why we already have plenty of melons, squash and tomatoes!)

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This year I suggested a budget that would correspond to roughly 35 seed packets for each of us to choose, or 70 total. Does that sound like a lot? It could have been worse. I figure that buying seeds is like paying for food, but getting a really great deal on it.

We focused most of our seed choices on the items we were low on, then had free rein to pick some non-essential items, just for fun.

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My non-essential seed picks were mostly flowers and herbs, while Chad’s were mostly melons, peppers, tomatoes. Yes, we already had plenty of those, but we’re always on a quest to find the best varieties for our short, hot summers, and he doesn’t complain about me buying too many flower seeds, so I try to reciprocate.

While Chad finished his seed selection, I sketched out our garden and came up with a basic plan for this year, making sure to look back at the previous couple of years plantings so that we get our crops properly rotated.

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With our seed orders placed and our garden plan roughed out, next it will be time to fine tune the garden plan and identify any seeds that need to be started indoors – some will need to be started in February, which is coming right up.

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With the garden covered under half a foot or so of snow, to some it may seem early to be in garden-planning mode. But under that snow is the start of the delicious food of spring and under my pale, sun-deprived demeanor is overwhelming excitement about another year of gardening.

To my fellow gardening fanatics out there – I wish you happy planning!

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