February 19

Now that the snow is finally beginning to go away, it’s time to think about spring in earnest. While January days are for dreaming, February days are for planning. I always feel sorry for the mailman around this time of year. The Christmas catalog shopping season is long past, the January doldrums and after Christmas catalog sales are over but it’s time to haul all of those darn seed and plant catalogs to mailboxes across the country. If you’ve been innundated with seed and plant catalogs in the mail, and you aren’t watching the Olympics at night, then you’re probably dreaming of your garden and all of the new goodies available this year.
Before you get too excited, a word or two of caution about all of the colorful and glorious offerings in the catalogs. The first thing you want to do is check to make sure that the plant, seed, bulb, shrub, etc which you have chosen is appropriate for your area. What does that mean? It means, is it suitable to be planted and will grow in your zone? If you aren’t familiar with zones, call your local garden center, or check the USDA web site and you’ll be able to discover exactly which zone your home is in. While many of the catalogs offer a much wider variety of material than your local garden center, there is often a reason the material is not offered locally. A responsible garden center will only choose those plants, seeds, etc which are suitable for their area. They won’t try to sell you things that don’t thrive or even survive in the climate area which they serve. Although the offerings are abundant, many times they aren’t going to live where you live. Unless you are an adventurous gardener and just want to try something for a challenge, you are probably wasting good money if you choose something that is not recommended for your zone.

The second thing to be mindful of is, does the company from which you are ordering have a good, solid reputation for both delivery and quality? Unfortunately, like a television evangelist, many of the mail order companies do not live up to their promises. I spend a good deal of time in May and June each year answering the e-mail at our garden center that is misdirected from a mail order company who has either not sent products which were ordered, or has sent dead material. Folks find us by doing a google search and we get the complaints, even though we are in no way associated with the mail order company. So take a minute and check before you order. You may save yourself a great deal of grief down the road. Happy planning!