Seeds, Glorious Seeds

Well, I didn’t win the lottery … in case you were wondering.  So it’s back to being on budget.  I am definitely trying to keep costs down this year.  The economy’s not good.  My position is being moved and I am not, so I expect to be out of work by the end of the year.  Last year I spent more than I wanted to on gardening goodies.  Finally, if the point (or one of them) in growing your own is to save money, it doesn’t make sense to dump a heap of dollars into the endeavor.

I kept all this in mind as I reviewed my stash of seeds to decide what is going in the ground (or pots) this year.  I have nearly all the seeds I want/need but did determine a gap: I am looking for heirloom beans.  I had a couple of seed catalogs on hand that friends have given me — a Park Seed catalog that I started to flip through till I realized it’s a year old, and a Territorial Seed Company winter 2011 catalog.  Neither will do me much good right now so for the first time, I ordered seed catalogs.  I could be more environmentally sound and browse them online but I do like having paper in my hand and limiting off-hours computer time (except for updates here and the usually too often FB check-ins).  So I have put in my requests from Seed Savers Exchange and Territorial Seed Company.

Seed Savers Exchange has been around since 1975 and is a non-profit dedicated to preserving and promoting heirloom vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs.  Basic membership is $40.00/year (with the year based on quarterly publications, not calendar years — which is important because it ensures you get the Yearbook from which you can order seeds from other members).  It entitles members to a 10% discount on all catalog purchases, the catalogs themselves, and several publications about heirloom growing.  SSE is an important organization because it also serves as a major seed bank: Seed Savers Heritage Farm is an 890-acre farm in Northeast Iowa that is one of the largest non-governmental seed banks in the country.  This is the kind of endeavor that is worthy of support, even in tough economic times.  Regular contributor and fellow reveler, Ralph, is a member and speaks highly of his experience with them.  Search “savers” on this site for more on this significant organization.

I ordered the catalogs a little leery because all I have heard from people who order from catalogs is how hard it is to limit seed purchases and not get overly ambitious. My biggest lesson from last year is to KISR: Keep It Simple, Revel.  It’s got to be my mantra this year, or I run the risk of overwhelming myself, my budget, my time and my desire.  In practice, this will mean keeping more of my plants in one place so I’m not racing to four different locations to water them before running off to work, and to have variety but not so much that I’m constantly researching care tips.  This year, I aim to make my garden a little more self-sufficient and useful (think food) but beautiful too (think flowers).  A touch of spice (think herbs), and it should all be nice.

QUESTION: what lessons are you taking into your garden this year?  Do you have a guiding principle or mantra?  What are your gardening goals?  What are your favorite seed sources?  Do you have any tips to share for saving money while still growing your garden this year?  Go ahead … gimme the dirt!