Friday, January 20, 2017

All Those Seed Catalogs!

Marigold seeds can be saved in the fall from your own garden plants.

Is your mailbox flooded with seed catalogs? I know that mine is, and I'm loving every minute of it. There's something magical about seeing beautiful photographs of colorful flowers, juicy fresh-picked vegetables, and all types of plants when the weather outside is gloomy and cold.

But before you start ordering, take a few moments to get to know your seed catalog.

  • Review the icons: Most seed catalogs have icons near the product description. These icons provide useful information such as how much sun, shade, or moisture the plants need. If you're unfamiliar with the species or variety, double check this information and compare it to what you have available in your garden. If all you have is shady spots left to fit more plants in, purchasing seeds for sun-loving annuals isn't smart.
  • Know what you have stored already: If you're like most gardeners, you probably have many half-opened seed packages stored in your basement or garage. Some of those seeds may still be viable. Take a brief inventory of what you have already so you won't double-order things you already have (and forget to order things you need).
  • Decide what makes sense to buy: Some plants, such as root vegetables, are easier to plant from seeds. Other plants, such as flowering annuals, are so inexpensive to purchase as healthy plants from your local nursery and garden center that it may not be worth the time, space and effort to grow them from seed. Many gardeners choose to start seeds of specific varieties or types of plants that may be difficult to find in the store, such as rare, antique, or heirloom varieties of flowers and vegetables. Choose what makes sense to start from seed for your needs, tastes, and garden.
"Window shopping" from the myriad seed catalogs and websites is one of January's great gardening pleasures. Be sure to read up on proper seed starting techniques and learn more from Virginia Tech's publication, Seed for the Garden, available to download as a PDF.

Bachelor buttons (Centaurea cyanus) are easy to start from seeds.

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