As soon as the ridiculous number of catalogs from Pottery Barn, LL Bean and the like finally subside in the post holiday slump, the garden porn starts to roll in. And let me assure you there are some catalogs that are so beautiful they can convince you can grow anything. One in particular, which I won't call out by name, but happens to be in my home state of Connecticut is very good at it, my gardening friends will know who I mean.... but I digress.
For any serious gardener the planning begins now, in the dead of winter. Seeds need to be ordered if you want specific types for your vegetable or ornamental garden from a reputable company (see here for comprehensive reviews, I use this religiously). Order too little and you may be out of luck for your late summer/early fall sowing of cool weather crops. Order too much and you may waste a bunch of money (although if you've ordered from a reputable company the seeds should last til next season). My challenge this year is I've increased the size of my vegetable garden by about 300%. So I'm planning, drawing, counting, measuring, okay not totally true. I should be doing all those things, however as usual I'm going to just fly by the seat of my pants with a rudimentary, not to scale drawing plan, order, and keep my fingers crossed.
My favorite seed catalog of all time is Johnny's Selected Seeds of Maine. It's not that they have the most unusual varieties (I order those from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed, which now bought a CT Seed company and will available locally, woo hoo!) but they have a ridiculously high germination rate. In addition their catalog has the most comprehensive seed starting, transplanting and harvesting information for every single fruit, vegetable and flower that they sell. It's literally my bible for the whole growing season. In the last few years they've also upped their offerings in the organic seed department. So the next few days I'll be pouring over their catalog, along with a few others to try and decide which of the 500 varieties of tomatoes I want to try this year, and which of the 200 varieties of cucumbers will make the best pickles. And I'm hoping to find the magic unknown vegetable that must bet out there somewhere that my youngest child will actually like and eat without a bribe.
Ox-heart heirloom tomato - definitely making the cut again this year.