It’s reached single digit temperatures outside. While the sun is shining this afternoon, it’s a rare pleasure for this time of year. So, what’s a gardener to do? Why, dream up next year’s garden of course!

January and February are prime seed catalog months. Many seed catalogs will send you free copy. Seed company websites also offer excellent website shopping, as well. Flipping through your seed options now gives you the chance to dream, plan, and research your options for the next year. It also allows you to evaluate how much time you’ll have for gardening.

Let’s say you set aside two hours each week in January for garden planning and seed ordering. As the month goes by you realize you only have time for one hour each week to devote to garden planing. This might be a sign that you will only have one hour a week for gardening and should only plant three types of tomatoes not six. The time spent planning a garden does not completely equate to the time needed to care for a garden, of course. It’s just a good way to check in with yourself about the time you have available. Crowley Station Community Garden has small plots that even the busiest people will have time to garden!

When you are planning your garden and going through seed catalogs/website be sure that you think about the following things for next year:

  • Seasonal Rotations (planting cabbage after your Spring spinach is done for example)
  • Growing days needed
  • Appropriate zones (you might really want a lemon tree, but Wisconsin just isn’t warm enough for an outside planting)
  • Drought and Disease tolerance (experiment now because you never know what the season will bring)
  • Take a look at companion plantings

You will also want to balance the foods that you love to grow and eat year after year with new experiments. For example, last year I found the perfect green bean (I had over 10lbs in my 2′ x 8′ bed). I’m certainly going to order more of those. I’m also going to try experimenting with Chinese Red Noodle Bean. Since I’m a fan of beans I know that I’ll have a hardy type that I’ll love but might also find a new favorite. If the weather is unusual this year, one variety might do better than another. Diversity does wonderful things for a garden and your table!

Here are some of my favorite seed catalogs. In the comments, I’d love to hear about your favorite garden planning resources!


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