Heart of the Home: January Signals Start of Spring Gardening Season

A reader talks about the thrill of seed catalogs arriving in the mail, planting flowers and vegetables, and getting her herbs in containers growing.

| Spring 2017

  • Helen plants a variety of herbs in containers on her deck, so all she has to do is step outside and snip off what she needs for whatever she's got cooking.
    Photo by Fotolia/anjokan

Once Christmas is over, plants and seed catalogs start showing up in my mailbox. It’s an exciting time, as it gives me a glimpse of springtime.

I pore through the pages, “oooing” and “ahhing” over all the new shades of flowers and the latest rose sensation, and then I usually end up ordering the same old seeds and plants as usual. The stores have different seeds and plants than the catalogs, though, so I can always buy other varieties there. Last year, I decided to do something different, and I ordered a bonica rose. It bloomed heavily in varying shades of pink, and I was not disappointed. It’s gorgeous.

In late winter, like a magnet, I’m led to the seed section in local farm stores. The selections can oftentimes be overwhelming, but sometimes I’ll get brave and decide to try a new variety – especially a new kind of tomato. Roma is my personal favorite, but a friend told me last summer that Brandywine is a very tasty variety, so that one is on this year’s seed list for sure.

The earliest garden vegetables always seem to taste the best. I love a ruffly leaf lettuce salad with crunchy ‘hot’ red radishes, along with bits of fresh green onions and a little Italian salad dressing. Yum!

Edible pea pods are high on my husband’s favorite food list. However, he prefers to eat only the peas and not the pods! So, we came to the agreement that he’ll shell the pods and give them to me to freeze for Asian dishes. That works, and we’re both happy.

My spindly bell pepper plants can’t compare with the larger and healthier ones I find at greenhouses. If I want peppers larger than grapes, I have to rely on the greenhouse varieties. I’ve yet to grow big pepper plants myself. The same is true for eggplant. The sturdier plants are well worth the cost, though, as they produce so much better.

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