Wednesday

2016 Seed Catalog List (Free and PDF)

It's that time again. There's something pretty satisfying about investing in garden seed. It's like making a deposit on the future. A little strategic planning may be in order, though. 

If you want to grow soapwort, for example, some refrigeration will be necessary to make those seeds sprout. A quick perusal of the latest crop of seed catalogs may also reveal new cultivars that break geographical barriers, making some of your wish list items more frost hardy or drought tolerant, and therefore a better bet for your backyard this year.

There are also more and more sellers offering organic, non GMO, open pollinated and heirloom seeds, as well as regional (Italian, Southwest and short season) specialists, and vendors who concentrate on exotic, wild or hard to find varieties.

This list is broken into two categories, sellers who offer paper catalogs and those who don't. Being the beneficiary of a snail mail catalog is a dwindling delight, so take advantage of it while you can -- and while you have a few extra pennies to spend on seed. In a few years, the beloved, dog eared seed catalog will be a thing of the past.

Happy hunting - and may viable seeds be ever in your garden.

Sellers who mail hard copy catalogs on request:

Burpee Gardening - you probably have this early bird one already
Cook's Garden (Purchased by Burpee)
Horizon Herbs (Strictly Medicinal Seeds)
Online Greenhouse  (Press the button for the free order form.)

Worthy sellers using online catalogs or offering PDF downloads:

American Meadows (Specializing in wildflowers)
Gourmet Seed International   - Excel Spreadsheet
Mountain Valley Growers  - Online plant list with helpful tutorials
Nichols Garden Nursery - I took a quick peek, and they appear to offer good value for saffron bulbs.
Renee's Garden (Online  only) - heirlooms and herbs
Sand Mountain Herbs (Online only)
Seedman Exotic Seeds from Around the World  (Online only) - An interesting site for hard to find seeds)
Select Seeds and Plants (rare, heirloom)
Tasteful Gardener (PDF) - Organic Plants
Terrior Seeds (Some nice herb collections)
The Natural Gardening Company  (Online only) - Marketed as the oldest certified organic nursery in the U.S.
White Harvest Seed (heirloom)

Photo source: Flickr user: Biodiversity Heritage Library

Saturday

Gardening by the Numbers


Since garden chores may be waning somewhat for many of us in favor of canning, drying and other harvesting activities,  let's take a look at a few interesting gardening statistics.  You probably already know vegetable gardening is on the rise in the U.S., powered by a shift toward non-GMO, organic and just plain, but delicious, vine ripened produce. If you shop for tomatoes, chives or parsley in your backyard instead of at the market, you're not alone. Here's the scoop on what people are growing and enjoying in their gardens. Although these figures were compiled from a number of sources, they typically cover data and projections from 2014.  Enjoy.

Gardening Statistics That May Surprise You


In 2014, nearly 114.6 million people in the U.S. undertook at least some gardening projects. That's up from the 2008 figure of 104.9 million reported by Statista, the Statistical Reporting Portal.

Care to guess whether the average gardener is male or female? If you guessed that the ladies outnumber the men, you're probably right. The National Gardening Association reported that the "average" edible plant gardener is a female who spends five hours a week maintaining a backyard vegetable (herb and fruit) plot.

The average gardener also spends about $70 on prep supplies annually. How much does that investment yield in tomatoes, peppers, blueberries and other produce? That would be about $600 dollars worth.

An average veggie garden size is 575 to 600 square feet or so.  To calculate the size of your own plot, the simple formula is: length x width = area.

Tomatoes are by far the most popular vegetable crop grown in backyard gardens with an 86 percent ranking. They're followed by cucumbers (47 percent) and bell or sweet peppers (46 percent). Other popular crops include: beans, carrots and summer squash.

Vertical gardening is becoming more popular around the country, too. Statistics aren't available, but products designed to help gardeners grow crops up (trellised) instead of out are on the rise. This isn't much of a surprise as a significant number of gardeners are working with a median (not average) space of only around 96 square feet.

One big surprise is that all regions of the country are involved in vegetable or food based gardening. Short season or long season, gardeners are still making the most of their landscapes. The South boasts the largest concentration of gardeners at 29 percent, with Midwest garden enthusiasts coming in at 23 percent.

Research conducted by Michigan State University suggests that updating your landscape can increase your home's value by up to 11 percent. Ancillary data is encouraging, too. It implies that landscaping expenditures (within reason) can yield a 100 percent return on investment (ROI).

A Mother Earth News article concludes that nearly three out of four Americans learn to garden from information on the backs of seed packets. Where did you educate yourself about gardening?

According to the GWAF 2014 October Gardening Trends Research Report, if you grow an edible garden, pest and disease control are your biggest concerns at 39 percent and 38 percent respectively.

About one in every four consumers polled in 2014 planned to grow an edible garden during 2015. It'll be interesting to discover how that falls out when the 2015 figures are in.

According to Mark Bittman, the New York Times food columnist, if one in 10 Americans converted their lawn space to edible garden space, the resulting harvests would supply one third of America's fresh produce needs.

Care to guess the fastest growing food gardening age demographic? According to the National Gardening Association, that would be 18 to 34 year olds (millennials).

Whatever you rage, grab a trowel and get to work! Happy gardening.

Photo:
Courtesy of Flickr User: Ukgardenphotos  https://www.flickr.com/photos/ukgardenphotos/6813998355/in/photolist

Resources:

Bittman, Mark. "Lawns Into Gardens."   New York Times. 1/2013. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/29/lawns-into-gardens/?_r=0

Elements "15 Gardening Facts and Statistics That Will Blow Your Mind!" 3/2014. http://elementsdesignbuildllc.com/gardening-statistics/

Garden Writers Association. "Garden Trend Survey." 2014. http://www.gardenwriters.org/gwa.php?p=gwafoundation/surveys_gardentrends.html

Garden.org. "Food Gardening in the U.S. at the Highest Levels in More Than a Decade According to New Report by the National Gardening Association." 4/2014. http://assoc.garden.org/press/press.php?q=show&pr=pr_nga&id=3819

Master of Horticulture. " Home Gardening Statistics." 3/2014. http://masterofhort.com/2014/03/home-gardening-statistics/

Mercola. "Who Knew Vegetable Gardens Could Be So Revolutionary?" 4/2014. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/04/07/vegetable-garden-sustainable-agriculture.aspx