Unlike in the past, our mailbox is not jammed with catalogs from gardening mail-order companies nowadays; earlier, in my younger days, when I used to garden tirelessly, holiday season would barely be over when catalogs from various sources started showing up in the mail. Sure enough, such material, most of it free, helped shift the mental gears towards spring.
While I do miss the fun of browsing and checking out the new and noteworthy items the companies have to offer, I fully understand the discretion on their part: paper is a valuable resource and should be conserved. Besides, I order in a very conservative manner now and, therefore, it is only fair that my name has been removed from the mailing lists of many companies.
However, to make the most of the situation, I try to relish the ones I get, for not only do mail-order catalogs have plants, bulbs and related items for sale but also contain a wealth of information, too, and at times, some interesting recipes as well. Also, an illustration, a brief description and often the scientific name accompany the plants listed throughout the pages; since these facts are not easily available elsewhere, either I hang on to the catalogs or cut out such details of the items ordered and save for future reference.
Basically, perusing gardening catalogs is somewhat like “armchair gardening” during winter months; a perfect remedy for curing winter blues. A word of caution that is easier to preach than practice while ordering is to use judgment: upon seeing page after page of eye-catching pictures, not to mention the incentives some companies offer, it’s easy to yield to temptation.
Another lesson I have learnt during the course of time is to order early to ensure getting what the heart desires or the newest and unique selections which are often highlighted on the first few pages of the catalog. Speaking of early, to avoid disappointment, this year I ordered way ahead of time from one of my favorite seed catalog companies called Pinetree Garden Seeds and Accessories. By ordering early, I have been able to get seeds of an unusual hybrid cucumber “Sweet Success” that doesn’t require pollination to set fruit. Incidentally, this item was marked “Last Chance,” so I am glad I didn’t wait too long to place the order.
One nice aspect of shopping through the Pinetree is that the seeds are offered in relatively small portion size making it cost-effective to try new items; also, one is not stuck with leftover seeds resulting in wastage. And, for the adventurous ones, there is a comprehensive selection of foreign vegetables such as French, Italian, Continental and Latin American. My adventure, this year, is focused on growing the cucumber which can produce fruit without pollination. Will report the finding in summer, so, do stay tuned!