January 6, 2005 at 7:48 a.m.

Now is the time to browse through those seed catalogs

Now is the time to browse through those seed catalogs
Now is the time to browse through those seed catalogs

With cold winter winds blowing outside, what better way is there to spend a warm, comfortable evening indoors than browsing through garden seed catalogs for new ideas? Now is the time to start thinking about those changes you’ve been meaning to make to your perennial border or, for some of you, creating a new flower garden from scratch.

The 2005 seed catalogs are just beginning to arrive in my mailbox. They contain lots of useful information about the newest award-winning varieties of flowering plants, as well as the tried and true classics our grandparents used to grow.

As I page through them, I keep in mind that not all of the plants listed are suitable for our gardens in Minnesota. Some perennials, plants that come back year after year from the roots, are not hardy enough for our area. We live in Zone 4 on the USDA hardiness zone map, so it’s wise to choose only plants rated for Zone 4 or lower. Some gardeners enjoy pushing their luck with Zone 5 plants, if they have a sheltered spot, are willing to provide extra winter protection––and don’t mind losing a plant occasionally.

I also consider where my garden is located and what type of soil it has. Does it get full sun? Partial shade? Full shade? Seed catalogs will tell you which plants are adapted to the growing environment in your garden. Consider only plants that are adapted to that environment. Placing a plant that needs a moist, shady location into a garden that is dry and sunny, or vice versa, is just asking for trouble.

If you want to try your hand this year at growing plants from seed, it’s not too early to begin thinking about it. Allow plenty of time. Of course, some seeds can be planted directly in the garden in the spring, but there are many that need a jump on the growing season, and they should be planted indoors way before it’s warm enough to plant seedlings in the garden. Some need a 10 week or more headstart; so, those seeds need to be planted by mid-March, or so.

Your first question might be, how can I get some of those seed catalogs? To receive a list of my favorite seed catalogs and how to get on their mailing lists, attend a free Master Gardener presentation (details below), or stop by our new office in North Branch, or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to us at the following address, and we will mail you a copy: Master Gardener Seed Catalog List, Chisago County Extension Office, 38780 8th Avenue, North Branch, MN 55065.

Your next question is probably, how do I grow plants from seeds indoors? Watch for a follow-up article on “Starting Seeds Indoors” in the next week or two or read all about it on the internet at: http://www.extension. umn.edu/projects/yardandgarden/ygbriefs/H236startseeds.html

Better yet, mark your calendar now for a free presentation on “Starting Plants from Seed” by Chisago County Master Gardener Lisa Hunder, Saturday, Jan. 22, from 2-3 p.m., at The Coffee Depot, 11484 Brink Ave., Chisago City, (next to Brink’s Market).


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