An After-Christmas Tradition (For Garden Nerds)

The Christmas tree is gone, the decorations all in their boxes ready for the attic, and now I finally get to sit down with my…

Garden catalogs!

Seriously, my daughter rolls her eyes at this (welcome to life with a 13-year-old), but I restrain myself through the holidays, putting aside the new year’s gardening catalogs as they arrive in the mail. I’m just waiting for the moment that all the holiday things are done and I can sit down with them and start dreaming of the *uh-um* perfect garden I will have this season.

First, I like to look through each one, even ones I’ve never ordered from and probably never will, looking at what’s new, reminding myself of what I’ve grown and want to grow again. Basically just enjoying the pictures and what they’ve included for the new year.

Then I’ll go through them with a pen and start circling any ones I want to try that look good. This is the “dreaming” part, as I pay no attention to price or even if I already have the same seeds. I just circle and underline anything interesting, including any new planting tips.

Then in about two weeks I get more serious, and I get out my seed file and go through it, writing down all the seeds I need and reminding myself what I already have.

I go back through my marked catalogs and start listing what I want, which I will usually find in one of these three catalogs pictured. I buy the bulk of my seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds (even though they are all the way over in Maine) because they sell smaller packets at very reasonable prices (read: I’m cheap).

Then I place smaller orders through the two other catalogs that are local to the Willamette Valley: Territorial and Nichols Garden Nursery. I know I will be able to find varieties, especially tomatoes and peppers, that will do well in our area.

Garden catalogs that are near the area you live are one of the best ways to learn about varieties suited to your climate as well as the best planting and harvesting times. Some, like Territorial, give detailed seed starting, planting, and harvesting information- and it’s all free in their catalog.

So, find some catalogs from your climate zone (search online if you don’t know), grab a cup of tea, put up your feet, and join me in one of my favorite after holidays traditions- dreaming of the garden future. :-)

I don’t even have any “post-holiday blues” anymore.

Yeah, I’m a definite garden nerd.






  1. Jenelle says

    Ok, so this is probably a stupid question, so i apologize up front. But why do you order your seads from Catalogs? Last year was my first garden and I just went to my local gardening store and bought some packets of seads. Is it just that you get more of a selection form catalogs?

    Also, how long do seads last? I have a ton left over from last year. Can I use them this year?

  2. says

    Ahhhhh… my favorite January relaxation technique. I plan out several versions of my garden, most of which never actually happen. Its kind of like having a doll house!

  3. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Jenelle- Hey- there are no stupid questions here! :-) And yes, the selection is much better- you’re not at the whim of what the managers thought would sell, etc. Also, I like to know where the seeds come from (as much as possible) and if they’re treated with chemicals (some are). Territorial has a store near us and some local stores sell their seeds, so I have bought there to save shipping, but sometimes they are out of what I wanted.

    I save my seeds from year to year (I wrote about my system in my seed-starting posts). Their germination rate may lessen with the years (just sow a few more seeds in each cell or row), but I’ve had seeds sprout even 5 years later!

    Anne- Oh yes, the plans…they can get grand, can’t they? :-)

  4. says

    Hi Jami,

    I’ve been following your blog for about a year now. We just moved to 5 acres and my garden plot is staked. All last year I marked your blog posts and made notes. I just received my first gardening catalog after seeing your recommendations. I always can lots of salsa and am wondering what your favorite salsa tomatoes are. I’m “local” (across the big river to the north of you :), so the climate should be the same.

    p.s. loved your recent posts on what’s in the grocery bag!

  5. Jami@ An Oregon Cottage says

    Lee Ann- Wow, thanks for your kind comments- I’m glad the blog has been a help to you! Hum, this is an interesting question because I don’t use specific tomatoes for specific things (except paste ones for certain things). When I have piles of tomatoes, I make salsa (or marinara, etc.). Now, if a canning recipe specifies slicing tomatoes, which they often do because they have more acidity than the paste ones and since we’re adding low-acid vegetables we need the balance right, I will do that. But as for specific varieties, I just grow what has produced for me well in the past or any new one I want to try.

    Some of my regular main-season tomatoes are Early Girl, Big Beef, and then the heirlooms that I like: Brandywine, & Cherokee Purple. If you got Territorial, they have a great selection of tomatoes that do well in our area and I think even have ones that are mentioned for salsa.

    Have fun and don’t hesitate to ask any questions you have as you start your garden! I’m glad to help.

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