Winter Planning and Seed Selection
The cold winter months have set in and everybody is thinking of spring. One of the time honored traditions of a family that grows veggies, is immersing yourself in seed catalogs, when January rolls around. It’s a warm day dream that happens to be the perfect time for planning ahead for the new year. I have been spending some time this passed month exploring all of the different catalogs that I could get my hands on. I always enjoy reading the descriptions and looking at the pictures of all the heirloom varieties, that seem to be so endless.
This happens to be the time of year when little is going on with vegetable gardens, even if you have cold frames outside packed full of winter greens. There is some free time to look ahead to spring and summer, as well as reflect back on what crops you grew last season. Maybe there are some new vegetables you would like to try growing or new varieties of old classics that you want to give a shot. This is the time to do it, and so the planning begins.
I usually start by first looking at every vegetable in the catalog followed by; making a list of everything I want to try growing. The list usually starts off long, until I reassess how much space I actually have, and then I start picking apart the selections to essentials. I can’t grow every type of heirloom tomato that looks cool, so I pick one or two and wait till next year to try another variety. I also grow all organic vegetables, so searching for certified organic seed is sometimes difficult when you want something specific. I have had to go through several seed companies to find say a certain organic pepper that other seed companies don’t offer. The process can be long but when looking through all the catalogs it seems so fun to be planning ahead.
Two of my favorite seed companies are Seed Saver’s Exchange and Heirloom Seeds which is in West Finley, PA. To be clear, heirloom does not necessarily mean organic, but many seed companies signify which seeds have been produced organically.
Once I have determined what I am going to be ordering, I can then use this time to decide where I am going to be planting everything. I practice crop rotation so I try to move different plant families around my garden so as to not plant the same kind of vegetable in the same spot year after year. This helps the production and health of your crop as well as maintains a healthy soil. Keeping records of your yearly planting will help you orchestrate this task whenever you plan for the upcoming season.
I have made my selections and ordered the seeds, there is no time like the present to get started. First of all, it is fresh in your mind, so you don’t forget to order when it becomes too late, secondly you might be starting some of your spring crops early. All said, this is the perfect time for starting to plan for something that will be just around the corner.