Gardening Matters

It is February and the garden catalogues are showing up in my mailbox like fleas on an under-the-porch dog. But at least the catalogues are wanted.

I am currently recovering from long overdue back surgery and have some severe restrictions on what I can and cannot do around the house. I am not the kind of fellow to tolerate sloth and indolence, thus I am finding it a bit of a difficulty to stay put. But I trust that this surgery will enable me to be much more active and productive in a month or two. Meanwhile I am enjoying the arrival of new garden catalogues.

Today’s catalogues are a far richer source of options and information than were available when I first started gardening back in the 1970s. Back then, and for many years after, the only seeds or plants available in the catalogues were hybrids.

Today we have organics, non-GMO, and heritage types to go along with the continuingly developed hybrids. Even as recently as the 1990s it was not easy to find organic seeds or plants.

Further the range of colors, tastes and kinds of vegetables has multiplied. My new Park Seed catalogue offers 34 kinds of squash and 48 kinds of tomatoes! Such a smorgasbord of choices was unheard of until recently.

Catalogues such as Seed Savers, Seeds of Change and Southern Exposure offer seeds not readily found in many of the mainline catalogues such as Park Seed or Burpee. These seed vendors started out as more or less hippy operations intended for the tree hugger crowd, but they have morphed into some of the best seed or plant sources for everyone.

One of the first things I look for in any catalogue is to see if they have a listing of new plants/seeds for sale. Even if I am not particularly looking for anything, I always find these new plant offerings to be interesting. New choices in color, size, taste or growing conditions can get the imagination started on what could be done for my garden.

One of my favorite parts of the catalogues is their section on garden equipment, tools and clever gizmos to make you gardens more productive or easier to grow. I enjoy the suggestions for seed starting…mini-greenhouses, gro-light fixtures and heat systems. I see myself taking over the living room with racks of plants with their own lighting systems. Clearly my lovely spouse does not see these items in the same way as I do and I know who has the final say in these matters at our place. But a gardener can dream.

I also enjoy the offerings for tomato cages, bean trellises and plant supports in general. Someday someone is going to come up with just what I need and I want to be among the early users of these helpful items.

Then there’s soil supplements, various bug repellents, fertilizers, worm farms, sprayers, hanging baskets, frost protection devices, plastic mulch suggestions, watering gizmos kits of all sorts, soil testing kits and just dozens of other things to study and consider. Even if you never order anything from a garden catalogue, you will get a fascinating education and will be entertained for hours.

Anyway, as I sit here in quiet healing repose I am thankful for the gardening catalogues I receive. I hope you are enjoying yours.

Jeff Coghill has been gardening in DeKalb County for over 35 years. He has killed at least one of every plant he has tried before getting another to thrive. He is a volunteer at the Dunwoody Nature Center and works closely with the Master Gardeners there.

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