Any major undertaking should begin with careful planning and with a clear goal in mind. It need not be carved in stone, as the reason for planning is to amass data so that your efforts will be based, as much as possible, on reality, not wishful thinking. There is a pattern that should be followed.
Naturally, I’m talking about gardening, although the process of logical thinking should include research to gather information, analysis of the data, then a plan to move forward. With so many avenues to explore, it can be challenging to find one that offers accurate, helpful information.
I have found that if you carefully select and study quality seed catalogs you will discover that they contain a mine of information. Seed and plant companies want you to succeed. Quality catalogs assist by providing supportive information. Some catalogs are simply marketing tools that offer many pictures but little technical help. Listing some of those that are restricted in scope will offer little help to you. I prefer in this and future columns to suggest some companies that I admire and respect.
Johnny’s Select Seeds, 955 Benton Ave., Winslow, ME 04901-2601, is such a company. Founded in 1973 by Robert Johnston Jr., a vegetable grower and hybridizer, it has developed into a trusted source of quality seed and helpful information. His 240-page catalog is, I believe, a model of what a seed catalog should be by offering comparison charts of each variety of each vegetable offered by them.
Growing instructions for each plant type, including culture of the crop, insects and diseases, harvest and storage instructions, as well as seeding rates and the length of time from planting to harvest, are all covered. Herbs and flower seed are offered. Organic seed is available, never GMO or GE (genetically engineered) seeds.
Basically, this catalog is an easy-to-read and invaluable course in vegetable cultivation. Use it to better make your growing selections and hopefully purchase their seeds. Johnny’s is not a multinational conglomerate but an employee-owned company well worth your support.
Another local seed company worth your attention is Pinetree Seeds, P.O. Box 300, New Gloucester, ME 04260. While I have not known them as well nor as long as Johnny’s, I have found their seed offerings well-described and their presentation more than sufficient. The fact that they are local, in a growing cold zone north of us, and list a good range of flower and vegetable seed for the homeowner appealing.
Pinetree lists a good quantity and range (a recent catalog listed and illustrated 21 varieties of carrots) at reasonable prices. They also provide planting, growing and harvesting information. In the catalog that I’m looking at, books, garden supplies, and herbs are also offered.
We have, at best, 60 days to explore and select the seeds and plants that will be used in our gardens this year. Don’t waste your time. Explore and plan. Time spent learning and planting is the most effective means possible to grow as a gardener.
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