You might just think talking about garden seeds in the dead of winter that we are off our gourd here at Murlo. There is however a method to our madness.
Seed catalogues tend to start showing up in November. We put them away until after the Christmas decorations come down and then pull them out.
For new gardeners there are things you need to keep in mind when placing your seed order. First take stock of your pantry and freezer. If you still have plenty of relish and pickles perhaps this year you will plant fewer cucumbers.
Another key piece of information is to know your growing zone and number of frost free days for your area. A simple online search or a call to your local greenhouse will provide this information.
In our area of Manitoba we get on average 112 frost free days from May 21 to September 10th. Knowing this helps us choose the variety best suited for our garden. A veggie requiring 100 or more days to mature may not be the best but instead a variety with fewer days to maturity would be better suited.
Knowing your average frost free dates also helps you determine when to start seeds indoors and when to start seeds outdoors, or transplant seedlings.
Seed packages have recommended planting dates. For example tomatoe seeds will suggest around 6 weeks before your last frost date.
Consider the garden area you have. A word of caution. A garden covered in snow often fools us into thinking we have more space than we have. Glossy well laid out catalogues also tend to entice us to order more than we have room for. After all you are envisioning the best garden ever!
Don’t forget about your flower pots and think outside the pot a bit. Red leaf lettuce or even beet tops among your flowers can look great and offer additional veggie space.
It takes time to figure out what varieties you may prefer, or will do well in your soil. For example you may find you prefer a Nantes carrot variety over Imperator.
Each year I like to try something new. This is how I discovered the cherry tomato Sweet 100. It is a must have now in our garden. The same tomatoes I use in our recipe for Roasted Cherry Tomatoes.
Now dig out your catalogues or go online to find a local seed company. Support your local companies. They typically sell what will grow well in your area. Ordering early also means you will not be disappointed by seeds that could sell out early.