The arrival of the seed catalogues can erase some of the gloom as we wait for daylight hours to lengthen. Reading them can be like a series of free gardening courses. By prowling through their enticing pages, a keen gardener can find ideas galore and more growing hints than can be absorbed in one reading.
Canada has excellent seed catalogue companies in almost every province. The larger catalogues have pictures of a great selection of vegetables, annuals and perennials, an immense amount of growing information plus a wish list of home garden accessories. You can even find seeds for vines, ornamental grasses, house plants, herbs, shrubs and trees. Often you can purchase unusual varieties as seeds, that would not be available in your local garden centre. Imagine being able to choose from 30 to 40 different kinds of tomatoes or seeds from an exotic plant from far away. In addition to the wide selection, you learn about the newest introductions in plants, fertilizers and garden gadgets. Just the ticket for raising oneís spirits and fuelling hopes and dreams as we wait for spring.
Many companies focus on specific types of plants. The big prairie seed catalogues offer super hardy plants including hardy-on-the-prairie roses and perennials and your purchases are exempt from Ontario Sales Tax. There are catalogues that sell only untreated seeds and specialize in organic fertilizers and pesticides. Trying out heritage seeds or European imports or specialty herbs is no problem as there are many seed catalogues that cater to organic growers or herb gardeners. North of Ottawa, there is a seed catalogue business offering seeds for cold-climate gardeners in Canada including Newfoundland and Labrador as well as throughout the world.
Regardless of your needs and pocketbook, there is a seed catalogue that fits your gardening aspirations. With the higher Canadian dollar, American catalogue shopping is less expensive than in previous years. When compared to the costs, later in the spring, of bedding plants, growing from seeds is a great way to save money. Many of the seed catalogues also include a variety of live plants as roots, bulbs, or even potted plants. Reputable seed companies guarantee quality and viability. Read the information that they provide in the catalogue.
Packages often contain more seeds than you have room for. Sharing with a friend is one way to put them to good use. Also, be aware that seeds are often viable for several seasons, if stored in a cool, dry and dark location. The germination rate might be lower, but it is worth giving them a try rather than tossing them. For the older seeds, just plant more seeds in each pot than you would normally and thin them out if too many germinate.
Catalogues come complete with order form and return envelopes and most give an e-mail address and fax number for easy ordering. There is almost always a delivery charge, but this can be reduced if two or more gardeners get together and send in one order. A comprehensive list of Canadian catalogues with mailing addresses can be found at www.canadiangardening.com or take a look at any Canadian gardening magazine. At this time of year there should be pull out cards, advertisements, etc. as the seed companies are anxious for new customers.
Some seed companies have trial gardens or display gardens and encourage visitors at certain seasons of the year. Many master gardeners have found this to be a learning experience, which you too might enjoy.
Donít miss out on the joy of watching for your seeds to pop out of the ground in 2005.