Are you huddled by the wood stove? Is a blizzard raging outside or has the thermometer plunged off the bottom end of the read-out? Then it's time to thank the postal worker who goes out in every kind of weather to bring us seed catalogs! "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." I would add polar vortexes!
Don't you love seed catalogs? I do! They are a bright little light when the skies are gray for days at a time or when it's clear blue and cloudless, and venturing outside makes you want to scurry back in because the snap of the cold hair takes your breath away. Seed catalogs are like a little garden you can hold in your hand that fills your eyes and your hands with warmth, imagined delicious scents, and anticipated textures. When I get one it reminds me that this (winter), too, shall pass, and pretty soon the lilacs will be in fill bloom and planting season will be here. They remind me that it's time to plan my spring garden on paper and start my sets indoors. What shall I plant? My mind goes crazy and I want to plant everything! How to choose?
First and foremost I have to think about what grows well here. What tolerates hot daytime temperatures? What tolerates less than stellar water availability? Will I want to save seed at the end of the growing season? I have to know my climate and my soil. Do I want plants that will bear all season, or do I want my harvest to happen at one time and then be done. Determinate happens all at once and then ends. Indeterminate bears all season long. Don't get hybrid seed if you want to save it later for growing next year. Get specialized hybrid if you've been going going mano-a-mano with certain diseases and insects and you'd rather not do it anymore or ever.
Read the descriptions. Study other sources to make sure you've got the low-down. Talk to your neighbors about what is successful in their gardens. This is a good time to meet at the local coffee shop and talk shop. Then plan your garden. Sounds like a very fun thing to do when the weather is a challenge.
Photo courtesy Renee-Lucie Benoit