It’s Time to Order Seeds

Holidays are over; decorations are put away. The winter darkness is starting to lift a tiny bit, but the cold doldrums are here to stay for a while. These are all the indelible signs that it’s time to order seeds and plants for this year’s garden.

Sure, you can wait until spring, and rush to your local big-box store or nursery like all the other amateurs. And there will be plenty of time for that. But if you are a serious gardener, or even a serious foodie, you want to get your order in now and plan everything around your big goals for this growing season.

My latest discoveries are organic seedlings that you can order now to arrive just in time to plant in the spring (although, last spring I jumped the gun and planted before the frost-free date and lost a few things). With seedlings, I can order a whole variety of heirloom tomatoes and just a few other specialties and not have to start a whole pack of seeds of one thing. My two favorites sources are Seed Savers Exchange and Peaceful Valley Farm Supply.

My biggest goal this year is to plant an orchard…or, rather, a few fruit trees—I can only fit four in my yard right now. But for some fruits you need two trees for pollination. So I think I’m going to start with two apples and two sour cherries.

When I first started gardening, I was overwhelmed by all the catalogs and choices. But the more I garden, the more I know exactly what I want and where to get it. I love to support the small organic companies that are doing their best to free seeds from global domination, and keep the world safe for things that are different and simply old-fashioned.

By the way, have you all seen the new Organic Gardening magazine? It’s been totally redesigned, and is new and improved. I am totally in love with it, and thankful to our new editor, Ethne Clarke, who is a most qualified and inspired editor. My favorite compliment so far was from Jeff Cox, a former editor of OG in the ’60s! When he saw the new issue he declared that “the mag is back.”

He then went on to say: “It’s the organic gardeners who are truly perfecting the earth, one garden at a time.” I couldn’t agree more!

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9 Responses to It’s Time to Order Seeds

  1. Karen P. January 13, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    I’m an amateur gardener living in NJ and want to grow from seeds this year. I’ve had no luck with seedling kits and think I need grow lights. There is a dizzying assortment of lights. Can anyone sort them out for me?

  2. Snappybob January 13, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    For veggie seedlings that you are only going to keep under lights until you plant them out in the garden forget all of the fancy light setups and just go to your local HD or Lowes or equiv. and get an inexpensive 4 ft 2 bulb flouescent shop light. Hang it as close to the tops of the seedling as you can (about an inch is fine).

  3. Donna in Delaware January 13, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    I haven’t grown anything in years from seedlings, much less seeds, and I really wanted to start my vegetable garden this spring, but, again it looks as though that it is not going to happen. For the second year in a row, my husband has work to do in Europe around prime planting time and I am ticked! I have a great spot in my yard here, and it sits higher than the rest of the property, so it has the potential to get plenty of great sunshine and it is just the right size for about 8 raised beds. The problem is, I must cut a large tree and a very large tree down to get the sun. I can do that because the trees are in bad shape, I just never get the chance or to start my garden. I have already received cataglogs some 3 weeks ago and am longing to start, but can’t. So, it looks as though I will be a “pot gardener” again this year. It’s just not the same, so I’m a little depressed right now. Maybe next year. Good luck everyone on starting your new vegetable gardens and may they be bountiful!

  4. Donna in Delaware January 13, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    Maybe I should move back to Westchester Co. N.Y. I had the most prolific vegetable garden there for years with almost no problems. Once I moved to Florida, it all changed and nothings been the same since!

  5. Tina January 13, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    Now that compact flourescent lights can twist into regular light bulb sockets, I’ve had excellent luck with using those in goose-neck clip-on desk lamps for my seedlings. This is ideal if, like me, you are not carpenter-inclined and don’t want to spend a lot of money on fancy ready-made grow stands. I use a wire shelving unit, the kind readily available in most hardware or dept stores. Then, I clip the lamps all around the flat, adusting the flexible goose necks for the appropriate height and angle. You’ll need 2-3 lamps per flat, and re-adjust the angle every couple of days or so, or else your seedlings will get leggy and bend too much.

  6. Donna in Delaware January 14, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    My step-father put up a nice sized folding table in the basement of his home, bought 2 long florescent bulb holders like the one’s you usually find in homes in garages, and placed long florescent plant light-bulbs inside, hung it from the ceiling very low over the table with the plants underneath, and started his seedlings every year that way. He was seldom disappointed. The (boiler) that was in the basement near the table kept the plants warm, and those seeds that needed warmth to start their growth, he planted them, covered them with a soiless mixture, then with clear plastic after lighty watering them, and placed them on top of the boiler where the seeds received just enough warmth. He was quite successful with starting his seeds this way and had a fantastic vegetable garden from spring ’til fall.

  7. Anne January 14, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    A friend had a very simple setup for seed starting. She simply turned a folding table upside down on the floor which formed a plastic tray and suspended the florescent light fixture between the table legs which are now sticking up. The fixture can be raised or lowered as needed and heating pads can be placed under the table to warm things up.

    Now I have a question. Where can I get potted herbs this time of year? I failed to bring mine inside for winter and the basil, parsley and thyme from the grocery store is just too expensive. Thanks to anyone who can help.

  8. Donna in Delaware January 19, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    Depending on where you live Anne, you may need to get those potted herbs from California. Go on-line and search for nurseries out there, maybe southern CA is best. It has been too cold elsewhere I think, for other nurseries/greenhouses to have flourishing, potted herbs this early. I don’t believe Fl has any or much because of their recent freeze/frost problems, but then again, these are usually started indoors. Maybe some nurseries, greenhouses had herbs started already. Good luck to you. I would like some also, but I think you may have to wait until late March or April when they open to the public, in order to purchase them close to home.

  9. Anne January 20, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    Thanks Donna, I live in Missouri, so yesterday i bought a few packets of seed at the hardware store. They were on sale for 10 cents each and I figured 20 cents is not much to risk and when the plants are available I’ll toss my spindly little seedlings in the compost just like last year and the year before….

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