We started receiving seed catalogs in the mail at the end of the calendar year, before the Christmas decorations were put away. I don't mind; it's wonderfully healing to sit in front of the fireplace and dream about next year's crops.
For many years, I've been a loyal customer of my local garden center. I love their expertise and their willingness to answer silly questions without laughing at me. I appreciate that they stay open year around. It's lovely to visit the store in mid-winter for a dose of inspiration. The garden center merged with a local seed company 20 years ago, so seeds have always been available. I have confidence that plants and seeds sold there will surely grow in my region. Unfortunately, I've also become more aware of the strong smell of garden chemicals in that store.
During the course of mid-winter research, I learned that some seed companies have taken a Safe Seed Pledge in which they promise to sell seeds that have not been genetically modified. Although I wasn't entirely sure of the implications of genetically modified seed, I decided to patronize some of these companies. I jumped on the internet and ordered several seed catalogs, then waited for them to arrive in the mail.
I've learend that gardeners plant heirloom seeds to produce old-fashioned fruits like our grandparents might have grown. There is an urgency to preserve these genetically pure plants. Heirloom and open-pollinated seeds can be saved from one season to the next and continue to produce reliable crops that are the same as the parent plant.
Gardeners may chose to plant F1 hybrid seeds, bred from two different parent plants to produce an improved plant. Sometimes a hybrid will be more well-suited to a particular climate or region, or perhaps a hybrid is bred for particular sweetness or disease resistance. Hybrid seeds will not produce strong, reliable crops if saved for the next season.
There is increasing concern about genetically modified seed, in which unrelated genetic material is bred. The long-term results of this are still unknown, and many gardeners are cautious about using this.
After my new catalogs arrived in the mail, I spent several evenings in my chair at the fireplace, circling all my favorites with a red pen. I was like a little kid in a candy shop. The photographs in the catalogs were gorgeous, and the descriptions made me want to order one of nearly everything. It was difficult to narrow down my choices, but I finally placed an order and waited for the seeds to arrive.