How to Become a Seed Catalog Expert

You can become a seed catalog expert.  You have to apply yourself for hours and hours.  It can be butt deadening work, but someone has to do it!

How your training starts

January 1st marks the beginning of the new year.  It’s a time for fresh starts.  There is expectation and hope around the corner.  It is a time for dreaming and scheming.

But for my partner, it is the time of awkward abandonment.  The time of long silence and cold suppers.

Seed catalogs start rolling in.  I take this part of the year VERY SERIOUSLY.  I am not playing.

After gardening as many years as I have, new things are exciting.  I have always been drawn to the weird and unusual.  I want to try something different.  Maybe this will be the year to try growing cardoon?

In my normal life, I run kind of willy-nilly.  There is not much of a rhyme or reason.  I am not a big fan of schedules or rules.

BUT… at seed catalog time, that all changes!  I get my colored highlighters (got to have all the colors), sticky notes and mini notepads all organized.  This is serious shit!

I write in the catalogs.  I circle all the specimens that sound promising.  Later I will come back and analyze the descriptions to figure out if each prospective new addition really is as good as it sounds.  Or do I call bullshit?  It is tricky work.

I take this sooooo serious.  I get teased and cajoled to leave my self-imposed homework, but I cannot be swayed.  Time is a-wastin!  One common compliant is,  “Haven’t you looked at that already three times?”

Here is my EXACT method to become a seed catalog expert:

1.  Order new catalogs AS SOON AS YOU LEARN ABOUT THEM, or you might forget.

2.  Gather all supplies and catalogs together in a basket so you are perfectly mobile.  You can work in any room of your house, your mother’s house, the library or the car.

3.  Read through the seed catalogs one at a time.

It is perfectly acceptable to skip the varieties you have already tried.  Analyze descriptions of items that are new or previously ignored because last year you didn’t like spinach.

4.  Highlight any significant words you are looking for.  Heat tolerant, cold tolerant, slow to bolt, low water, high sugar content, especially delicious…these are a few that I can think of.

5.  Circle any descriptions that sound promising.  This is fast and messy.  It is not the final determination.  You are just singling out the promising ones.

6.  Use sticky notes as a tab to mark pages that you want to start your ordering with.  I recommend the early season varieties, or maybe you are a tomato lover.  The most important ones for your taste.

7.  Now it gets tricky…look at your budget.  First of all, what do you have to work with?  I don’t smoke, or drink.  Gardening is my vice and I have to give myself a budget.

This is a lie.  I have been known to go kinda crazy in the seed aisle at any and all stores I go into.

If they have unusual flower seeds, I have no control.  They are only a couple of dollars, but if you have 30 of them clutched to your chest like Your Precious, well, then, that’s $100.

Because of this, I make a detailed list of priorities.  The early season cr0ps get listed first.  I draw stars by the ones I can’t live without.

You do not have to order all your seeds at once.  I very many times have divided my orders up between paychecks.

The earlier you can order, the better off you will be.  By March and April, the seed companies are SUPER busy, and it will take longer to get your orders.

Make a plan, and stick to your plan.  Almost all seed catalogs allow you to order online to speed up the process.

8.  Now sit back, relax, and wait for goodies in the mail!  Everyone loves goodies in the mail.  And for gosh sakes, cook some dinner!

Perhaps I should publish the new things that make the cut.  We could all try the newbies out together and compare our notes.

Let me know if you would like to be in on that list!


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