Start the season from the comfort of your chair Catalog Nirvana

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By Barb Delisio

OSU Ext. master gardener

Now that the hub- bub of the Christmas season is behind us, we can settle down to the most exciting shopping there is: review of the new seed catalogs arriving in the mail. With the wind howling and temperatures freezing, there is nothing more exciting for a gardener than sitting in front of the fireplace with a cup of hot tea or coffee, perusing the new options.

The Internet just doesn’t work for this. I need to hold the book, look at pictures and dream about what I can accomplish in my garden this year.

So many decisions: Should the garden be larger than last year, smaller or the same perfect size? Do I want to introduce new plants or stick to old standbys? Should I plant flowers and vegetables in separate beds or combine them for more excitement? My advice? Read the details on the plants you want, don’t just look at the beautiful pictures.

These catalogs have most of the information we need to have a successful garden, such as, do I have to wait until after the last frost to plant this variety? How far apart should seeds be placed? Do the plants grow in full or partial sun or shade? How long will it be from planting until harvest?

Sometimes it is too much, but we have to begin somewhere. We need to draw a plan to see how much of the yard we can devote to our gardening passion. Personally, I focus even more on how much time I want to spend in the garden planting, watering, weeding, etc.

Let’s focus on vegetables to get the plan started: What early lettuces can I plant? Do I want buttercrunch, oakleaf, iceberg or the great mesclun mixes? Too many varieties may be expensive and take up too much space. Narrow it down based on your garden plan.

Then it’s on to spinach, peas and, maybe, broccoli. These plants will be some of the first edible plants to emerge in spring. Just thinking about them makes me smile.

For warm-season vegetables, the decisions are different. Am I going to grow these from seed or wait to buy plants? Being a purist, I want heirlooms. So I use the Seeds of Change catalog where I can choose Brandywine, yellow perfection and green zebra tomatoes. But I also need paste tomatoes, yellow and red pear tomatoes and others. Old companies such as Burpee or Parks have traditional plants like beefstake tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, climber beans and maybe some melons.

I know I’m going to plant a new and different vegetable this year. I try something new every year if I can. Maybe I’ll try Imperial Star Artichokes or Louisiana Green Velvet Okra. My new plants last year were kale and swiss chard, and now I can’t live without them. So many people now grow swiss chard, kale and lettuce under the poly tunnels and have these great greens fresh most of the winter.

To learn about the best uses for and how to understand terminology in the new catalogs, go to this site:

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