On a cold, snowy, and dreary early January afternoon, I pick up my mail and my spirits soar. The first seed catalogs have arrived, one from Jungs in Randolph, one from Gurney’s in Indiana,another from Burpee’s in Pennsylvania and several more. A spot of spring on a winter day. Pictures of hope and expectancy.
Seed Catalogs reach near religious status for those of us who garden. On these quiet days of winter we gardeners plan and anticipate—and study like someone facing a major examination. The test, of course, is next summer’s garden. Will it equal gardens of the past? Can next year’s be better?
I first study the tomato varieties: Pink Wonder is a new one, reaching 1 pound each with a “sweet and tangy flavor,” excellent keepers, good disease resistance. I look further. Three more new varieties: Tough Boy: produces “very smooth, round, 8 ounce fruits with no blemishes or imperfections,” Country Taste: “Old fashioned flavor blends with modern vigor.” And Bella Rosa: “A pretty name for a serious performer.” I must try a couple of these, I say, realizing I will most likely plant varieties I have grown for years: Better Boy, Early Girl, and Wisconsin 55.
I do the same for the other vegetables. I plan, check on what’s new in sweet corn, green beans, squash, pumpkins, rutabagas, cabbage, beets, radishes, potatoes and more.
I have a great time, reflecting on last year’s garden and what varieties did well, and planning for the next season. But I know from years of experience, no matter how carefully I plan, how carefully I select vegetable varieties, Mother Nature always surprises me. It’s one of the reasons I garden— I never quite know what to expect.
CHECK THIS OUT: My newest book, available about February 1 is about 25 years of canoeing in the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota. Steve’s photos are throughout. Go to: www.fulcrum-books.com for more information. The title: Campfires and Loon calls.
THE OLD TIMER WONDERS: Why do the pictures of the vegetables in the seed catalogs seldom resemble the real thing he grows in his garden?
February 12, 2:00 p.m., Richland Center City Auditorium. Film: County Schools—One Room—One Nation, followed by panel discussion.
March 11-13. Canoecopia, Alliant Center, Madison. Campfires and Loon Calls (two presentations)
March 15, 10:30 a.m. Eager Free Library, Evansville, WI.
March 15, 7:00 p.m. Barnes and Noble, Madison West. Launch for Campfires and Loon Calls.
March 17, 2:00-4:00. Monroe Arts Center, Monroe. Memories into Memoirs—Writers Workshop.
March 17, 7:00 p.m. Monroe Arts Center. Our Rural Heritage.
March 20, 7:00 p.m. Lebanon Historical Society, Fire Station, New Lebanon. Horse Drawn Days,