Yes, I've been asking for it. Snow, that is. And over the last few weeks it's finally arrived. And you know what else has finally arrived over the last few weeks? Seed catalogs! Because nothing says hunker down and stay inside like glossy garden porn.
I have a bit of a spotty record with starting plants from seeds. I don't have fancy grow lights or racks to hold flats of seedlings until they can be transplanted into the garden. This was less of a problem in California when I could start seeds in late January or February and transplant them into the garden by mid- to late-March. That compressed schedule meant I could move seedlings outside before they had an opportunity to get too leggy or spindly from lack of light.
When we first moved to Illinois, I continued to start plants inside, but moved the timetable back a few weeks to allow for the colder climate. Inevitably the seeds would germinate and the seedlings would take off growing faster than I had accounted for. Which meant that I was then frantically shuffling seed flats around the house trying to expose them to sufficient sunlight, or transplanting them too early into soil that was too cold. Neither of these approaches was very successful.
My solution for the last few years has just been to suck it up and wait for the ground to warm up enough to direct seed into my raised beds. And while this approach means I might have to wait a few extra weeks for ripe tomatoes, it also means I get a few extra weeks off during the winter. And what better way to spend the time than perusing the seed catalogs?
The heirloom varieties of the flowers and vegetables always have such great names. Who wouldn't want to plant King Richard leeks or Albino Bullnose peppers? And aren't you just a little curious to know what Vidrine's Midget Cowhorn okra tastes like? Or Orange Icicle tomato? How about a Georgia Rattlesnake melon or a Boothby's Blonde cucumber? On paper, they all taste delicious and grow hassle-free!
I received a garden journal this year for Christmas (thanks Mom and Dad!), so I'll be upgrading from my usual planning method of scattered lists tucked into books and crushed at the bottom of my purse. All the better for enjoying a few more weeks of planning time.