Garden Porn

‘Tis the season for garden porn! I got my first new seed catalog in the mail last week and another this week. Usually, I tear into them immediately and stay up past my bedtime reading about all the different varieties of  veggies and dreaming of spring. Not this year.

The problem is, it is very “spring-like” here. I know, some of you may think I’m trying to say fall, but no. I have memories of fall. The cold creeps in about late September, but definitely by Halloween. We dig out winter clothes and jackets, gloves, scarves and ice-scrapers. Leaves on trees turn brown (we don’t get much red in the desert southwest), and icy winds blow them away.

South central Texas is a bit different. It cools down a bit in October (80’s), the a bit more in November (70’s), the refrigerated A/C cycles on and off less frequently, everything that withered and died in the heat comes to life again. We have “green” for the first time in months. In my garden, I have tomatoes, peppers, and summer squash that struggled through the heat coming back to life. My little patio garden is still very much in full swing. Some things are even doing better now than they did in summer. In other words, it’s too early for my to get excited about next season when this one is still rollin’ right along!

Not to worry, though. The last two nights we had a “freeze” scare. It dropped down to 35º. Northerners, please stop laughing. I promise you I will get the last laugh when I am wearing shorts on Christmas day. And then we’ll probably get some freak winter storm for New Year’s Eve and someone’s mobile home will blow on to Interstate 10… okay, go ahead and laugh.

Anyhow, I long for a cold winter day in January, all bundled up on the couch with a hot coffee and a stack of seed catalogs. Many are a thing of beauty with wonderful photographs, delightful seed histories, and the promise of a new day, a new season, a new beginning.

If you’re new to gardening, I can tell you that there is a reason I call seed catalogs “garden porn.” I doubt I am the only one. I haven’t even put away the 2015 catalogs. They’re all over my home, the nightstand, the coffee table, the dining table … the “library.” I stay up late reading the history of beans; I make my family look through them and make suggestions on things to plant; I study plant heights, thinning distances, nutrition requirements, drought resistance, disease resistance, and days to maturity. I do a little dance every time I find a new catalog in the mailbox. I become a woman possessed.

A few of the 2016 catalogs have already been released. A quick Google search will give you a list of companies putting out seed catalogs. Many of them are free. Some seed companies have a live catalog on their website. One of my all-time favorites is Baker Creek Heirloom Seed online catalog. Talk about some awesome photography! Some, like Seed Saver’s Exchange share wonderful histories of the seeds they offer.

Here are a few more:

High Mowing Organic Seeds

Pinetree Garden Seeds

Park Seed

Bountiful Gardens

Burpee Seeds

Botanical Interests

Annie’s Heirloom Seeds

Kitazawa Seed Company

Seeds of Change



Autumn… briefly.

The change in weather has brought changes in the garden. The tomatoes and peppers that languished through the height of the summer have now taken off. I must have a dozen new bushsteak tomatoes now that the weather has cooled and over thirty new cherry tomatoes. The peppers that became few and small through August and September are now flowering and fruiting with abandon. The scraggly looking mint that had to be given a crew cut is now lush and green. Lack of pollinators seems to be a major problem with yield in the garden, but the heat didn’t help anything. Even self-pollinating plants suffered until it cooled. I wish I could be thrilled with all the good stuff growing in the garden this month, but, truth be told, I’m a little pissed about their horrible timing. Our average first frost date here runs about November 26. Is it just me, or does winter sneak up on everyone?