Did I miss something? Did the government declare a specific day in late December or early January when seed companies are all required to mail their catalogs? I mean, I know this is the time of year when they always arrive, but yesterday when I checked my mailbox I had four seed catalogs in it. FOUR!
You know what that means: If you are a gardener, it’s time to start planning and dreaming of all the delicious fruits and vegetables, not to mention beautiful flowers, you would like to plant in your garden this year.
The Burpee company is celebrating 135 years in business this year, and they’ve revamped their website and plan to send free seeds for marigolds and “White Wonder” cucumbers with any order of $30 and up. I also received catalogs from Heronswood, The Cook’s Garden and John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds.
Flipping through the photo-saturated Burpee catalog made my eyes light up and my heart thaw out (just a little). Midnight black Triple Crown blackberries! Pinot Noir hybrid sweet peppers! Purple Passion asparagus! Gold Mine yellow beans! Big Rainbow heirloom tomatoes! Sigh.
Some catalogs offer certified organic seeds, and I believe all of them sell at least some heirloom varieties. If you are looking for a lot of heirloom varieties, check out Seedsavers.org, Heirloomseeds.com or rareseeds.com, among others. The difference between hybrid and heirloom, in case you are wondering, is that hybrids are crossbreeds of two different plants. Although they are bred to be more prolific (and more resistant to diseases and pests, as reader Julie pointed out), hybrids — unlike heirlooms — cannot reproduce themselves exact replicas of the parent seed from their own seed (thanks for the clarification, Julie).
This always brings to mind one of my favorite quotes, from Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”: “You can’t save the whales by eating whales, but paradoxically, you can help save rare, domesticated foods by eating them.”
I haven’t quite decided what I want to plant this year, other than the obvious – tomatoes. But this is going to get me thinking. What are you all going to plant?