DALY: Seed catalogs provide a wealth of information

Tim Daly

Though we are in the depths of winter, the springtime planting season will be here before we know it. Now is an excellent time to consider what we would like to plant when warmer weather returns. Though we are in the digital age, ordering seed catalogs from major mail-order seed companies can provide many ideas.

Experienced gardeners recognize a seed catalog is more than just a source to purchase seeds. They also contain a wealth of horticultural items and information that is quite useful to gardeners. One of the most attractive features is the use of color photographs of the final product. Seed catalogs are one of your best resources to see what mature red lettuce, spaghetti squash or doubled flower poppies look like.

Seed companies that market their products usually include a map that designates the USDA plant hardiness zones of the United States. The catalogs refer to these maps continually throughout to allow gardeners to make well-informed decisions. The information will enable you to check the plants and varieties you already have to determine if existing issues may be due to being planted in the wrong climate. Additionally, if you are ordering plants to send to friends or relatives in other parts of the country, the catalogs provide the necessary information if they can grow in the climate of that particular region.

The flower section of the catalog will usually have a table or chart next to each plant that gives information on plant height, plant shape, the color of the flowers, where to plant in the landscape, sun requirements, blooming times, and other pertinent information. You have a greater chance of making the proper selection when you have this information on the various choices with accompanying pictures.

For those gardeners who like to eat what they grow, the vegetable section supplies necessary information such as how much seed to purchase, the method of planting, days to maturity, the size of the fruit, and tolerance to drought and pests, and other facts to help make the garden successful.

Many seed catalogs offer a wide selection of gardening tools and implements. The information allows for you a good foundation to compare prices with local garden centers, and it also has a variety of brands, sizes, alternatives than most store shave on display. In addition to standard items, the catalogs have many gardening items than many of us never knew existed such as electronic rain gauges, row markers, inflatable scarecrows, boxed earthworms, and others.

You can also purchase seeds online, but nothing beats having a hard copy, which can be ordered on the website that will go a long way to assisting you in choosing what you would like to grow. Sources include Park Seed (https://parkseed.com/), Gurney’s Seed and Nursery (www.gurneys.com), Ferry Morse (https://ferrymorse.com), Burpee (www.burpee.com), and others.

They can be ordered now, and you will have time to make your selections for the growing seas. Seed catalogs are definitely worth having.

Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with Gwinnett County. He can be contacted at 678-377-4010 or tdaly@uga.edu.