Indulge in Armchair Gardening This Winter

Just as garden chores dwindle for the winter, seed catalogs come rushing in in full force. Use them to plan and dream about next year’s garden.

by Kevin Fogle

Indulge in Armchair Gardening This Winter - Photo by Kevin Fogle (

The winter solstice has passed and the first real week of winter is always a bleak one for our front-yard garden. Sure, some tasty greens and onions are still hanging on, but everything else is now long gone. It is especially gray and dull right now, as we’re expecting a rainy Christmas week instead of white one. While this isn’t uncommon in South Carolina, it still would be a nice change of pace to have a little snow or least some temperatures cooler than the 50s or 60s.

On days like this, I find myself thinking about the vibrant spring planting season. Before too long, I’ll be turning the garden soil and conditioning it with some fresh compost from our friendly neighborhood zoo, known as comPOOst, which as you may suspect is made from carefully composted elephant and giraffe droppings. Then in mid- to late-February it will be time to start planting, getting out some spinach, snow peas and all the best early crops. But before planting begins, I need to start planning what I will be growing next year.

Time for Seed Catalogs

As a child, one of my favorite tasks around the house was getting the mail, sorting it, and then tearing open anything sent directly to me or addressed to “Current Resident.” As an adult, I still love getting the mail, though much of the mail addressed to me is now unfortunately bills. That being said, the fall and winter are great time to check to mail with an influx of holiday cards and most importantly the new seed catalogues for 2015!

I spend hours and hours doing some armchair gardening, poring over pages of the seed catalogs, looking at old favorites and considering new heirloom varieties to try. Perhaps the most time consuming catalog in the whole lot is the “Whole Seed Catalog” from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

This gorgeously illustrate catalog has the most unusual heirlooms, as the company searches the world over for fun and interesting cultivars. When dealing with crazy heirlooms or unusual cultivars, it’s often a good idea to find some reviews online that will help gauge if this plant is right for your garden and the various success folks have had growing it.

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Buy Local Seeds

As your seed catalogs come rolling in, don’t overlook your regional seed companies in favor of the big national catalogs just because of high-quality, glossy pages. Purchasing your seeds from local providers ensures that most of the heirloom seeds offered have been successfully tested and are well-suited for your state or region.

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