One of my favorite things come winter and early spring, is to pour through seed catalogs. Besides being a font of information, they offer the chance to try something way different that what's generally available in my area. That comes at a price, though. Some plants don't thrive in certain climates. To try and force them to grow when it's too hot/too cold/too dry/too windy/too whatever, can result in the loss of that seed or transplant investment. But sometimes determination wins, and when it does, it should be celebrated.
Some of my favored catalogs/online nurseries are:
Baker Creek Seed Company
Their seed catalog is huge. If you buy it at TSS (as I did), it's about ten dollars. But you can get it for free from the company. They specialize in heirloom varieties. Lots of native species grown by indigenous people, the most extensive tomato category I've ever seen, and lots of plants I've never even heard of, such as the super-awesome moringa (produces edible green-bean like pods, and the leaves are high in protein. An arid-area friendly plant).
Nichols Garden Nursery
One of my favorite catalogs! Full of information, lots of variety. Want to grow saffron? They have your back. They have a variety of hops for the uber-homebrewer. Speaking of which, they also offer beer, wine, and cheesemaking kits. Nichols also participates in the Open Source Seed Initiative, which is pretty awesome.
But this year, I ran amok at the dollar store. Their seeds were four for a dollar. All the blue seed packets were obtained for a whopping quarter each. And the lovely clerk informed me that in late spring, the price drops to 10/$1.
To store all my seeds, I also got a large coupon organizer from the dollar store.
Big enough I can tuck index cards of growie information next to the seeds I grow this year. I like to monitor growth, and by having different varieties of the veggies, I can weed out what doesn't perform so well in my area. By including dates, I can try planting at different times of the year and see if that has any bearing on production. For example, I can plant brussles sprouts now, or in the autumn and over-winter them in the garden. By planting at both times, I can determine which seems to benefit the plant more, and next year, plant just at that time, and use the garden bed to either fix nitrogen via legumes, or try a green manure.
With the dividers, I can group them like...
Plus, as a side note, with the seeds stored in a handy little folder, it's easy to pack if one has to bug out and wants to cover their ass for long-term survival, unlikely as it is a scenario.
So, armed with information-laden catalogs of eye candy, and a method of tracking progress, I'm almost ready to tackle this growing season.
Made a deal with my mom; I build and tend the garden, and I can have one (sharing the goodies from it, of course) in their backyard. We're marking the boundaries, stripping sod, and tilling in compost next week. Will have to fence it to keep the dog out (he killed the peppers last year with his lethal ever-wagging tail) but that also parlays into my grand plan to talk my parents into backyard chickens.
World domination, one garden at a time!