It’s that time of year again: time for buying garden seeds and planning what and where we’ll grow it all. This is that endless-possibilities time, the hopeful, looking-forward time: winter won’t last forever and this year will be better than ever, right?
The last few years, January and February slipped by super fast with a lot of mumbling to myself about how I really need to get going and order/plant seeds. Yeah. I need to get on that. Like, yesterday. You know how that goes. Then suddenly, like 2 months have swished by and there’s a global pandemic and you can’t buy anything from anyone in a reasonable time frame and all your motivation has been sucked out into the void and… Yeah. We all had our versions of that last year, right?
This year I really felt like I had my shit together (I should know better whenever I start to think that). It was still January when I finally sat down to pour through my seed catalogs and plan the garden, but by the time I was ready to place my orders, one of my favorite seed houses had already put new orders “on hold until we catch up with the first round” setting that order back at least a couple weeks, maybe a month. The company that was still taking orders had already sold out of a few of the key items I had been hoping for. What? I’m already late?
Ok. Deep breath. It’s still just the beginning of February, I’m still ahead of the curve, right? It’s all good.
After my first order arrived I sat down with my little garden journal and coffee can of saved seed packets, once again feeling pretty smug about how organized and on time I’m being with all this. I’ve got this all under control: I should write a blog post! Yeah, that’s it. Because, look how on top of it all I am? This inspiration should be shared with the world.
But before I started, I took a break and peeked at Instagram, where the first post on my feed was a local homesteader’s photo of her gorgeously super-organized seed-filing system, categorized and alphabetized in a clear plastic bin of neatly labeled drawers. People had been commenting on her post about their own super-organized systems and the cool gardeners who had inspired them, and I just sat here looking kind of like that little emoji with the straight line mouth. Or maybe the one with no mouth at all. Leave it to social media to completely zap creativity and self-esteem, right? I put down my phone and switched gears to business admin stuff and housework while my little coffee can of seeds and empty garden map sat untouched on my desk for a few more days.
Here’s the thing: there will always be folks who have more beautiful or organized or spacious gardens or homesteads than us. Who know more than us. Bloggers who make it look easier or more romantic. The important thing is we keep moving forward, keep trying, keep learning.
Each year we have the opportunity to build on what we learned the year before, and that’s awesome. Three years in, I still say stuff to myself like “I can’t call myself a homesteader, I still don’t even have chickens.” But I keep learning and improving what I’m already doing. I’ll get there.
So, we’re going to call that photo above a “before” shot of my garden and seed organization system. I’m probably not ever going to have that flawless alphabetized drawer system I saw, but I’ll invent something along the way that works for me and my space, and hopefully I’ll share some ideas you’ll find inspiring and useful for your own seeds.
When it comes to seeds, I prefer to purchase locally grown: it just makes sense that a grower from your own area can provide something that will do well in your garden and will have growing advice specific to your climate. Here in the Pacific Northwest, my most recent favorite sources have been Adaptive Seeds & Territorial Seeds (this is NOT a paid endorsement, I just really like what both companies have to offer). Seed Saver’s Exchange has always been a great source for heirloom varieties, and here in my town, our local Naturopathic Health Center just started a seed-swap for local gardeners. A quick internet search should turn up some great sources in your own areas, from seed growing companies to Facebook groups for gardeners and farmers: a wealth of information right at your fingertips.
Next I’ll dive a little deeper into planning the garden and scheduling plantings, but for now: if you’re not already way ahead of me, there’s still time to get going and pull out your saved seeds and/or buy new ones. Let’s do this!
It may look like this out there right now, but spring is coming! What do you want to grow this year?