One thing I’ve learned over time is that a seed catalogue can be much more than a gardener’s “wish book”.
It is a reference guide, and quite simply, an excellent source of gardening information that doesn’t go out of date.
Reading through a catalogue is a great way to learn about:
- the cultivation requirements – such as sun exposure, moisture, soil – of specific plant types. This information is really the key to success. With a south-facing garden, I have to choose plants that love sun and heat. I rely on rainwater for all my gardens, so water requirements are an important consideration for me. If you garden in shade, you will look for plants that do well under lower light conditions.
- the growing habit of plants – including the size (height and width), trailing, mounding or upright growth habit. If you are growing in patio containers, for example, dwarf plants may be your preference.
- the time from planting to bloom or harvest (usually indicated in weeks). This information is vital given the short growing season in northern locations.
- new hardier varieties of plants you may not have grown successfully. Seed producers are always looking to improve on things like fruit size and the disease-resistance of plants. A different variety of a plant that didn't grow for you may be more successful.
- the best uses for a given plant. It's helpful to know if a cucumber is better suited for preserving than fresh-eating, although when picked at the right time, I think almost any cucumber tastes pretty wonderful.
Dominion Seed House
T & T Seeds
William Dam Seeds
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For further reading ...
A practical article in Organic Gardening magazine explains how to read and understand the terms used in a seed catalogue..