(this is a repost of my blog for Lawrence Landscape)
Seed Catalogs- January 5, 2012
It is seed catalog time folks! If you are like me, you will begin to be inundated with tons of catalogs, seducing you with pictures and tips and ideas for this next season’s garden. Be careful! Needless to say, my eyes are bigger than my “plate”. To save you money and frustration, let me give you some rules to follow.
- How many seeds do you have left over from last year? If they have gotten too warm, wet or are really older than a year, they are probably not viable. Feel free to do a germination test!
- Be honest about how many plants you can fit in your space! How many square feet do you really have in full sun where the soil drains well? BE HONEST.
- All vegetables and many annual cutting flowers require the same full sun site. I include them with my seed buying (zinnias, marigolds, nasturtiums, bachelor buttons, cosmos, etc.).
- All of that space has to be water accessible. It’s nice that you have a broad sunny strip of easement. But can your hose or drip system reach out there?? Vegetables require deep, regular soaking for highest yield.
- Also, follow the spacing/ mature sizing listed for each plant you will put in. I mean, do not crowd your broccoli or your squash- it will wreck your yield and/ or promote fungal growth! If the seed packet says it needs to be planted 36” apart, plan on that spacing. Base your spacing on the mature size of your plant. I often shove in some smaller annuals or herbs around larger vegetables to beautify my plot. But I do not crowd out my major producers. (Example: I love summer squash and zucchini but it is a huge space hog. Do I have the space for it?)
- What do you eat most of and is really expensive locally?? Tomatoes? Basil? Eggplant? Zucchini? For me, I must have and eat an enormous amount of greens (lettuce, spinach, chard), beets, tomatoes, basil (I pesto it up), zucchini. However, what of my favorites is very affordable locally? Squash and zucchini, regular bell peppers and green beans. Potatoes, onions are inexpensive for me locally. I also love to grow all my own herbs because they are too, too much to buy- I use a bunch of herbs! THIS IS YOUR MASTER LIST.
- What grows best directly seeded (or needs repeat sowing)? Lettuce, greens, beans and peas, roots like carrots and beets, dill, basil, cilantro. For me: beans, lettuce, greens, beets, herbs. Also, many old fashioned cutting flower varieties are only available from seed. If you are having a cutting garden, make sure you consult your MASTER PLAN! Do you have room?
- What do I need LEAST of (that do great from transplant)? Examples include: cherry tomatoes, Thai hot peppers (amazing but who needs 18 plants of this??) or any exceptional “one off”, eggplant (for me personally). I also don’t need 18 thyme plants. I buy these from my favorite farmer’s market booths!
Laurel’s Master list- based on four 4’ x 10’ raised beds (and a little cheating with some pots)
Tomatoes- paste tomatoes (8) (S), slicing tomatoes (4) (N)
Basil- one long row (8-16 plants) (S)
Beans- pole beans (Blue Lake or some other long bean) 1 long rows (DS)
Beets- 1 long row (DS)
Chard- 1 row (DS)
Lettuce- 2 rows Buttercrunch, 2 rows leaf (interplanted with Bean and Peppers) (DS)
Spinach-2 rows (DS)
Cilantro- interplanted with other hot season veg. (N)
Peppers- bell (4), jalapeno (4) (N)
Arugula- 2 rows (DS)
Zucchini- 1 long row on a trellis (DS)
(DS)- direct sow, (S)- from seed, plant start, (N)- buy start from nursery
What did I forget??? Herbs.
Basil (S) already mentioned: Purple Ruffles, Boxwood Basil and Genovese
Lemon Balm (S)
Italian Parsley and Cilantro (N)