Holidays are over; decorations are put away. The winter darkness is starting to lift a tiny bit, but the cold doldrums are here to stay for a while. These are all the indelible signs that it's time to order seeds and plants for this year's garden.
Sure, you can wait until spring, and rush to your local big-box store or nursery like all the other amateurs. And there will be plenty of time for that. But if you are a serious gardener, or even a serious foodie, you want to get your order in now and plan everything around your big goals for this growing season.
My latest discoveries are organic seedlings that you can order now to arrive just in time to plant in the spring (although, last spring I jumped the gun and planted before the frost-free date and lost a few things). With seedlings, I can order a whole variety of heirloom tomatoes and just a few other specialties and not have to start a whole pack of seeds of one thing. My two favorites sources are Seed Savers Exchange and Peaceful Valley Farm Supply.
My biggest goal this year is to plant an orchard...or, rather, a few fruit trees--I can only fit four in my yard right now. But for some fruits you need two trees for pollination. So I think I'm going to start with two apples and two sour cherries.
When I first started gardening, I was overwhelmed by all the catalogs and choices. But the more I garden, the more I know exactly what I want and where to get it. I love to support the small organic companies that are doing their best to free seeds from global domination, and keep the world safe for things that are different and simply old-fashioned.
By the way, have you all seen the new Organic Gardening magazine? It's been totally redesigned, and is new and improved. I am totally in love with it, and thankful to our new editor, Ethne Clarke, who is a most qualified and inspired editor. My favorite compliment so far was from Jeff Cox, a former editor of OG in the '60s! When he saw the new issue he declared that "the mag is back."
He then went on to say: "It's the organic gardeners who are truly perfecting the earth, one garden at a time." I couldn't agree more!
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.