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One of the absolute BEST things about winter, is making your garden plans for the upcoming summer. There is just something about sitting indoors as the wind howls and the temperatures are below zero and a layer of snow is on the ground, dreaming about everything that this years garden could be. So it’s time to crack open the seed catalogs that have started to arrive and start your planning.
Now, there is still time for you to order seed catalogs if this is going to be your first year gardening. And if it is, Welcome and Congratulations! It may be a little scary to think about starting your own garden but I promise you – it can be as big or as small as you want. One single tomato plant in a pot that sits outside your front door in the sunshine is a great first garden. And even if you don’t order your seeds through the mail this year, I would still encourage you to give a try to looking through some of them. The descriptions are great and you will learn so much from comparing pictures and reading about growing time frames. Then if you decide to start your garden using plants grown at a local greenhouse, imagine how much better equipped you be to pick out the right plant for your garden plan.
Here are some of my favorite garden catalogs:
Totally Tomatoes – They sell more than just tomatoes, but if you want to try and determine what type of tomato you want to try this is a great catalog to compare and learn from.
Richters Herbs – The best basil I have ever grown has come from Richters. I kid you not I grew 3 plants and they reached my hip easily and I had enough basil for pesto and my “adult grilled cheese sandwiches” to last me all summer fall and winter.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – Another great catalog to learn from.
Seed Savers – This one is special to me because I really try to stick with heirloom plants, and Seed Savers tells you the story of the people who saved these seeds and the background behind their history.
In addition to these suggestions you will also want to do some searches about companies that are in your local area because we will have special growing conditions and it will help you to find a source that caters to your exact needs so you can have success your very first year.
Now it’s time to determine your budget. How much money can you spend on seeds right now (or to start saving for plants which will be more expensive but a lot of the work will be done for you). I will admit that my eyes usually get pretty big when I’m seed shopping so I have to rein myself in and try to stick to my budget. Also remember that if you are starting seeds yourself you’ll need to add in soil and some sort of container for your seedlings. I try to be creative (lots of things can make great domed seed starters like plastic salad containers, or take out containers with lids) to save money and stay green.
Next it’s time to determine what you want to grow and find the type of seed you want. I grow tomatoes every year and I include a slicing tomato and cherry tomato varieties. Herbs are also high on my list because there is no better way to spice up your cooking than using fresh herbs while they are in season. My must haves are basil, dill, cilantro, thyme and chives and then I try new flavors each year to expand my cooking options. I also love to grow peppers, usually a hot and a bell pepper get planted. And then something for salad (once in the spring and then again for the early fall) so lettuce, or arugula or kale whatever you would love to pick fresh.
I will also admit that when my dreams get a little to large, I remember my other fresh garden options such as farmers markets, CSA’s, and I’m lucky enough to have a great U-pick vegetable place near by, to grow some of the things that I don’t have room to grow. So factor in those options when you are deciding what you want to grow yourself.
I hope you have as much fun exploring, learning and planning as I do each year. Feel free to leave a comment below on your plans for your garden on 2018. What will you grow and even the name of the plant that you are growing. Every year my favorite tomato plant to grow is called “Bloody Butcher”. It has leaves that look like a potato plant instead of a tomato plant, the taste is incredible and I can always remember the name! Have a great time planning your garden.