I love seed catalogs.
I love how they all work the same way.
Vegetables are usually presented first and arranged in alphabetical order. Arugula, then beets, then cabbage, all the way to squash, tomatoes, and watermelon. Then come the flower seeds. Ageratums, marigolds and always at the end, the zinnias. I know the order of the alphabet, I know the order the seeds will be listed.
I can navigate easily from one section to the next by turning the pages. Right to left. And if I want to go back, left to right. No need to know how a particular seed company’s website works. No need to know where to click to get from beets to cabbage. No going back to the main page of the website to get to the next vegetable.
Just turn those seed catalog pages. I can bookmark the varieties I want, too, by dog-earing a page or putting a big sticky note on it. Or I can circle the item and the page number.
I never need an internet connection, wireless or wired, to look at the seed catalogs. I just need the seed catalogs. The pages are always there waiting for me to just look at them.
I used to read seed catalogs with my Dad, marking the varieties I thought looked interesting and then going through the selections with him, one at a time. Which kind of peas should we get? ‘Green Arrow’ of course. And we’ll need some ‘Big Boy’ tomato seeds, too.
He let me fill out the order form once we figured out what we wanted and then he’d write a check to go with it and off we’d send it on a cold January day. When the box of seeds arrived, I’d pull out those packets, always a little bit surprised that they were usually in plain packets, not like the ones in the stores with pictures on them.
No matter. I’d shake the packages. Each variety had its own sound. Pea seeds in a box sounded different from radishes in an envelope, and some seeds, like tomatoes, made hardly a swish.
I still have the last box of seeds we ordered together, the ones he didn’t get to plant and I didn’t have the heart to plant, that spring when he passed away.
Someday I might go through that last box and write down all the varieties we ordered that year and then order those same varieties for my own garden. Some of those varieties might not be available now, some 29 years later, and I’ll admit finding them through online searches might be easier than going through seed catalogs.
But I still love the seed catalogs.
My garden starts each spring in the seed catalogs, and with a big stack of them next to me now, it’s time to start in on this year’s garden.