De-Mystifying Seed Catalogs and Seed Packets...

For some enthusiastic gardeners, the seed catalog is a giant wish list, with nearly every seed variety circled, regardless of the size of the vegetable garden they’ll be planted in! But for others, the array of tomato varieties, mysterious codes and symbols next to plant names, and figuring out how much space everything will take up can be dizzying. The best place to start is to think about what you like to eat, and -if you had a garden last year- what grew well and what didn’t. Plant way too many radishes? Did zucchini take over half the bed, stunting your cauliflower? Turns out your kids couldn’t get enough swiss chard? Once you’ve created a list of what you like to eat, think about the time and space invested in growing – this information will be on your seed packet or in the catalog description. Although most tomato varieties can take 2-3 months to mature after transplanting, many agree that there’s nothing better than the taste of a home-grown tomato and it’s a must-have for their vegetable garden. Are you enchanted by the different colors of eggplant but only eat it twice a year, when your partner makes his famous eggplant parmesan? That might be better purchased at a farmers’ market, leaving the space and time in the garden for your daily salad greens. When you have an idea of what you want to grow, think about your seed-starting setup (parts 1 and 2 here) and the time you have available. Do your pepper seeds rarely germinate at home? For seeds like peppers that require quite a bit of heat to germinate, it might be time to invest in a seedling heating mat or moving the seed-starting area to a warmer spot in your home. Or, decide that...

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