I find the arrival of seed catalogs a welcome sight in what is normally a mailbox full of junk mail, magazines and bills. Like most gardeners, as I turn the pages and look at the colorful and perfect fruit in the catalogs, I find myself inspired each spring to plant "the perfect garden."
But unlike most gardeners, I don't plant a garden grown exclusively from seeds. Oh sure, I buy seeds for carrots, beets, lettuce, radishes, green beans, yellow beans and peas. But we plant those directly in the garden. Unlike what I call the "true gardeners" I don't plant seeds to grow tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, onions, zucchini, butternut squash and green peppers. Unlike the "true gardeners," I don't have the time, patience, facilities, ability or know-how when it comes to starting plants from seed inside to transplant in the garden. I usually spend $50 each spring and buy the plants at a garden center and plant them directly in my garden. I figure it's worth the expense to limit my frustration and disappointment and skip the challenge of growing plants from seeds.
Now I know "true gardeners" frown on that practice, but trust me, I know my limits. Preparing the seedbed, planting the garden, keeping it weeded and watered and harvesting everything at the proper time takes all of my family's gardening energy and then some. We usually do a good job getting the seed bed prepared in April to plant the potatoes, onions and peas and again in May to plant everything else. We even do a good job of watering, tilling, weeding and harvesting through the middle of July. When county fair week hits, seems to be when things begin to unravel a bit and a couple days after the fair, I find myself and the rest of my family on a garden "rescue mission," pulling weeds, tilling rows that can still be tilled and watering, watering and watering. Especially last summer with the drought!
My sons have warned me this year they are not helping with the garden because they all have college and jobs and their interest in gardening evaporated with last summer's drought. I however, can't live without tomatoes, lettuce, green peppers, onions, kohlrabi, peas, green beans and butternut squash. So, I'm planning to cut way back this year and limit my garden to just those few vegetables. But I still plan to plant at least 15 tomato plants. I need that many for fresh tomatoes, green fried tomatoes, salsa and stewed tomatoes for canning.
So as I look out my windows at all of the snow that is still piled up and continues to accumulate around east central Wisconsin, I know spring is out there somewhere and is just around the corner. Looking through my seed catalogs inspires me to plan my garden and dream about the warm, sunny days of spring and planting the "perfect garden."