There are still inches of snow on the ground and I am sure many more to come, but this week I received my first seed catalogue. It is a sure sign the number of days left in winter are fewer than those I have already endured.
I love seed catalogues. I am from a Midwest where every family had a garden. I can remember going to the local hardware store and them having bins upon bins of seeds. They had amazing names like Super Sweet Corn, Big Boy Tomatoes and the traditional favorite Blue Lake beans. There you could buy seeds measured out on scale and carefully marked on the brown paper bag what you had selected. It was a precious cargo, seeds that would provide for our winter larder.
Our family had a garden that seemed huge to a child, a now as a adult realizing size know it was 3 pushing 4 acres, and that makes it insanely large. It was technically grandma and grandpa’s garden, but our family worked it with him from the first seed to cleaning off the last plant getting it ready for a winter rest. We worked that garden by hand, no tractor, just a rototiller and lots of women and children with hoes. We sold some of our bounty but most of it would be canned, frozen or put in the root cellar to feed our family.
Today seeds are mass marketed and appear in your local Ace, K-mart and even grocery store. They are packaged in colorful boxes and envelopes touting their qualities. There are many more hybrids and varieties to pick from. It is wonderful that we now have tomatoes that can grow in the short growing season I have in Montana, and this year I even see a sweet corn I might even try. To sit a home warm inside, studying the descriptions and picking seeds that will be most successful here will take many a night, and help to pass the days of winter that we still have left.