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Don't Buy Everything You See in the Garden Catalog | Organic Gardening 365
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Don’t Buy Everything You See in the Garden Catalog


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Too many choices. Not enough space in the garden!

Too many choices. Not enough space in the garden!

In the last post in this series of Timeless Gardening Tips, we talked about not planting too much or too little in your organic garden.

In other words: Keep it manageable.

Today let’s talk specifics: ordering things out of catalogues and buying from nurseries.

I don’t know about you, but I start salivating when the new seed catalogues come out just before and after Christmas.

The pictures in seed catalogs are almost hypnotic.

Everything looks so amazing. The new varieties to try. The special offers. The things I wanted to get last year but didn’t.

And sometimes I end up ordering way more than I have room to plant or time to take care of.

Have you ever had this problem?

I’ve gotten better over the years, but it requires boatloads of old-fashioned discipline to keep my seed and plant orders in line with reality.

So, I’ve come up with my OG 365 Timeless Gardening Tip #5: Don’t buy things just because they look great in the seed catalogs (or in the nursery).

Just because there are beautiful pictures of amazing vegetables and flowers in a catalog or a wonderful display at your local nursery, does NOT mean you need or have to buy everything you see.

In other walks of life, they call this “impulse buying” and there are all kinds of theories why people buy things they don’t need.

But, you know, with gardening I think it’s a little different.

We do NOT need the third specialized pasta maker that will just sit unused in its box next to the other two (in their boxes) under the kitchen counter.

But we DO need to grow and eat good, organic food. We just need an honest and manageable plan for what that will be. And I hope you have written down your plan in your Gardener’s Journal.

When the catalogs arrive…

When the seed and plant catalogues arrive in December and January, I spend hours reading and re-reading at least a dozen catalogues, marking pages with seeds and plants I’d love to grow.

But then reality sets in and it finally dawns on me (once again) I don’t have enough space or time to grow all the things I’ve marked in the catalogues. Darn!

So, my order is usually pretty small compared to my grandiose ideas when my head is in the gardening clouds.

But it took me a few years to learn this lesson.

About 20 years ago when I was able to have a full sized garden again, I planted all kinds of stuff I’d never grown before like chard and kale, not to mention 36 tomato plants, etc.

But I went a little overboard. I had enough chard to feed an army and no one would eat it. OOPS!

I was doing the cooking back then and didn’t know what to do with all that chard. I don’t know if we ate any of the kale. But it sure looked great growing in the garden! Now we love kale and chard, by the way.

Now don’t get me wrong. I believe in experimenting and trying new varieties, but it should fit in with the overall plan for your garden. But I had not planned very well and a lot of produce went to waste that year.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Do you have room for everything you want to grow in the garden? Remember how big or small your garden is.
  • Do you have time to plant and maintain everything you want to buy?
  • Are the things you buy suited to your geographical and climate region?
  • Be aware of spacing requirements and check to see how big the plants will grow.
  • Will your family actually eat what you plant (not just the amount, but do they like it)? If not, don’t buy it, or plant just a little as an experiment.
  • What will you do if you have bigger harvests than you expected?  Do you have a back-up plan for preserving the food, or sharing with others or perhaps selling it at a farmers’ market?

So watch what you order and make sure your family will eat it. Don’t just buy something because it looks good in the catalog.

And remember, always buy organic seeds if you can.

How do you decide what to buy? Do you have a system? Have you ever gone overboard in ordering or planting your garden? I’d love to hear your stories. Please share in the comments below.

That’s it for now,

See you in the garden,

James Early
Organic Gardening 365
Dedicated to helping you get the most out of your organic garden all year long

P.S. Check out the next OG 365 Timeless Gardening Tip in this series about when to plant your garden. For the complete series of OG 365 Timeless Gardening Tips, click here.

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