Seeds, glorious seeds to get you through the winter!

by Lanark County Master Gardener Dale Odorizzi

It’s January and all the hustle and bustle of Christmas has passed – it’s now time to look ahead to the new year.

Like most gardeners, my fingernails are clean, and I feel like it will be an awfully long time until I can get outside and work in the garden.  Suddenly, I remember that since the middle of November my seed catalogues have been arriving, but I had put them aside for a quiet moment.  That moment has arrived.  Going through seed catalogues reminds me of the days as a kid when the Eaton and Sears Christmas Catalogues—every night right up to Christmas, I would make a list for Santa, itemizing what I wanted.

I usually start reading at the front where they list their “New Selections for this year”.  Does the new variety of carrots really sound better than the variety I have used in the past?  Maybe one package of them and two packages of the “old reliables”, just to be safe.  Now that I’m living in a condo, will the ‘Patio Snacker” Cucumbers really survive and flourish in a container, replacing my old sprawlers?  Time to move on to page 2.

My favourite thing to grow is in the “Edible Department” so let’s spend a lot of time studying what is available there.  In my childhood days, I had to share the Christmas Catalogue with my younger brothers, but the seed catalogues are all mine.  As I go through, I’m free to use a coding scheme to mark the “definites” and the “maybes”.  All the while, I picture these beauties growing in my allotment garden and on my terrace.  Won’t they look wonderful!  This year, I’ll keep my gardens weed free, so my vegetables have their best shot.  Should I try the heirloom variety of tomato or how about a hybrid?

This process is repeated for each catalogue and then the moment of truth arrives, and it’s time to create the order.  Is it worth it to order one specialty package of seeds from a company and pay a high shipping fee or can I use a similar product from a company that offers a good shipping rate?  I’ll check with my gardening friends to see if anyone is ordering from that company.  So many decisions to make.   Don’t forget to check the seed packages that you have left over from last year.  Don’t even get me started on the flower seeds.

I usually prefer to order seeds from Canadian suppliers and my usual go-to catalogues are from Stokes, Vesey’s and Richter’s herbs.

About this time of year, the grocery stores and hardware stores are setting up their seed displays.  Of course, you must take them into consideration and study all their seeds.  A quick trip to the grocery store becomes a 30-minute seed study.  Remember no shipping charges but you might not have the same degree of selection.

Another shopping spot for a “seed-a-holic” are the Seedy Saturdays and Seedy Sundays.  In Almonte it takes place on February 19th, 9-3, and in Perth on a Sunday, early in March.  These events draw many sellers of local heirloom seeds and organic seeds. They have seed exchanges, and talks and the Lanark County Master Gardeners available to answer any of your questions.

This is the time of year when my garden looks whatever way I want it to.  There are no weeds, no disease and no blight.  The critters haven’t discovered it, and everything is properly staked.  Of course, all of this is in my mind but nothing beats starting seeds in March, working in the soil and finally getting outside to make it all happen for another year.

Happy Gardening!

Dale Odorizzi is a member of the Lanark County Master Gardeners.  Want to know more about the Master Gardeners group or ask a gardening question? Visit our website at www.lanarkmg.blogspot.com or contact us at lanarkmg@gmail.com