In winter, gardeners busy themselves with tasks like plant protection, pruning, and bringing in late crops, but generally it’s a quieter time of year. No matter how industrious you are, the months of December and January offer some respite. This is when you curl up in front of the fire with your favorite gardening catalogs and plan, plan, plan. One thing’s for sure, armchair gardening is relaxing by comparison to the labor of the garden, even if you enjoy the toil.
Though online shopping saves on paper, old-school gardeners love nothing more than to gather up nursery and seed catalogs and root out new and exotic plants for the coming year. This is the work of the virtuoso gardener, madly underlining, circling, bookmarking pages that contain the magic elements of their brilliant new vision. It’s a tactile experience, too, thumbing through the freshly inked leaves, all loaded with exciting possibilities.
Exactly what catalogs you order will depend partly on the magnificence of your ambition and budget. For the price of one nursery plant, you’ll often be able to buy dozens of packets of seeds, but of course a nursery has carefully raised the plant and protected it against pests and diseases. Its robust health is then entrusted to you. Seed catalogs are great for their weird and wonderful variety, providing endless hours of discovery and rumination for the thinking gardener.
In addition to mainstream seed catalogs, keep an eye out for specialist or connoisseur collections. These might focus solely on open-pollinated or heirloom varieties, or excel in a specific plant or vegetable. This is where the Internet can help even the traditionalist; a little research will help you find more offbeat growers and vendors.
Once you’ve ordered your seeds, create a seed calendar/storage system that arranges your seeds chronologically so you don’t forget to sow them. This only need be a small box divided up and indexed by date.