Seed catalog browsing is a great way for gardeners and "wannabe" gardeners to fight the winter blues.
Q. Can you tell me something about seed catalogs and which ones you would recommend? — Tina Gram, Somerville, Mass.
Seed catalogs offer customers seeds for growing annuals, perennials, ornamental grasses, fruits, vegetables, and some catalogs even offer seed starter kits, garden tools and fertilizers. More than 500 seed trade catalogs were published by 250 seed companies between 1790 and 1900! And some seed companies are still operating today, such as Park Seed Company, established in 1868, Burpee in 1876, Jung Seeds & Plants in1907, and John Scheepers Inc. in 1908.
Seed catalog browsing is a great way for gardeners and "wannabe" gardeners to fight the winter blues. Catalogs I recommend are Park Seeds, Burpee, John Scheepers; Kitchen Garden Seeds, Seeds of Change, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Pinetree Garden Seeds, Territorial Seed Company, and Jung Seeds & Plants.
When reviewing seed catalogs, you will find helpful information about the plants and vegetables these seeds produce; such as the plant’s hardiness, growth rate, size at maturity, best temperature zone.
The next step is to order your seed packets. You can order catalogs by phone, mail, or over the internet. For a list of some current organic seed catalogues I may not have mentioned, go to www.GreenPeople.org/VegetableSeed.html
Q. I’d like to grow some seeds indoors so I can plant them when spring arrives. How would I do this? — Jake, Cambridge, Mass.
A. You’ll need a lightweight commercial potting mix or seedling mix to grow the seeds in. Containers such as small plastic pots, peat pots (soak well before adding soil), egg cartons, 4 ounce yogurt cups, or six-cell pack growing flats can be used. Purchase seeds from catalogues (see this week's other Q & A), garden centers or exchange seeds with friends. Follow the directions on the back of the seed packets as some seeds have different germination times and require different planting depths, spacing and transplanting times.
Moisten the seedling mix or potting soil and fill the pots or flats to within ¼ inch of the top. Plant the seeds. With a water sprayer, moisten the soil (keep the soil moist until the seeds begin to sprout). Place the pots/flats by a brightly lit window or a few inches below a fluorescent bulb. You can purchase a flat that comes with a clear plastic cover to hold in humidity and a table top grow light equipped with 20-watt wide spectrum bulbs.
When the seedlings are an inch high, fertilize with a weak solution of liquid organic fertilizer. At this point, if the seedlings are ready, transplant them into slightly larger pots. Once danger of frost has passed, you can plant the seedlings in the ground and enjoy watching them mature.
Contact Judy Eisenberg at SunandShadeGardening@comcast.net. Eisenberg has been gardening and consulting professionally with a personal touch for more than 10 years.