Thursday, February 4, 2010

Winter Dreaming: Seed Catalogs

There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry. Benjamin Franklin

I love gardening.

Even as a child, I loved digging in the dirt, seeing seeds sprout, and watching plants grow to maturity and bear fruit. It is the best thing I have found to relieve stress.

We are an impatient lot here in the winter. Sometimes, warm autumn days will last until Thanksgiving, and daffodils are blooming by early March. Compared to others, out winter is relatively short. It is way too long for me.

Early in January, after the holidays are over and things are looking dark and bleak, there is a bright spot in my mailbox. Seed catalogs start arriving. I pour over them, devour them, like a good novel. They are a wealth of information, and they are free.

My absolute favorite is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds ( and I buy seeds from them every year.

For herbs, Richters ( the most complete source I have found. After I have ordered the seeds or plants I want, the catalog is kept as a reference tool.

I am not affiliated with either of these companies except as a grateful customer.

My gardening is limited to a small sunny spot in a city backyard; I have to be very choosy about what I plant. If I had an acre, it would all be full. Even in this small space, I am able to enjoy and share green beans, tomatoes, squash, several kinds of peppers, okra, and lettuce. Some years, I am able to add other things. I always grow many kinds of herbs, some in pots on the deck.

My granddaughters always help with what is growing. They love to pick green beans, as long as they don't have to eat them. In addition to learning traditional ways, they have learned to identify plants and insects. One astounded a crowd of people at Disney World who were mystified about a group of fragrant landscape plants; the six-year-old nonchalantly identified it as basil.

While we are wearing our heavy coats, surrounded by naked trees, I plan and dream.

Won't be long now.

And God said, 'Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.' Genesis 1:29