Nothing brightens a gloomy winter day more than opening the mailbox and finding a seed catalog or two. The pretty pictures, the fanciful descriptions, the unspoken promise that yes, there will be a spring. A seed catalog is like a little packet of sunshine dropped at your door.
But what if you'd actually like to buy something? The wealth of information and ideas that are crammed into such a small space can often be overwhelming. Far from a foreign language, a seed catalog is just an efficient, but highly stylized set of plant descriptions.
Start At The Beginning
Learning to read a seed catalog means starting at page one. Most seed catalogs feature a page or two of information on the setup of the catalog. The table of contents may list plants by their common or botanical names-or both. If the seed catalog uses codes or symbols, a key will often be located at the beginning of the book.
Secret Code Words
A description of a plant will often end with a few one-word tags. These tags often describe a distinctive feature of the plant. Typical descriptive tags are:
Climate or hardiness zones are based on the average minimum temperature in a given area. It pays to know your zone. Most seed catalogs will have a map of hardiness zones near the front or back of the book. Each plant listing will have a range of zones that are suitable for the plant.
Your seed catalog may also list the growth cycle of each plant. There are three types of plants:
When you soak seeds, you allow water to fully penetrate the hull of the seed, nourishing the germ that will bloom into a plant. Seeds will get food from the nutrients in the soil surrounding them once they are planted, but to flourish they need plenty of water.
There is a concept in coaching called seed planting. It means that it takes time for new ideas and suggestions to be embraced. There are clients that take hold of a new idea and run with it, some take a little more time to allow the idea to grow while others can take years before the idea sprouts.