From scratch: start planning, shop now for next season’s garden
We live in precarious times. Things that we have always taken for granted have changed dramatically or have disappeared altogether. The prices on literally everything have skyrocketed and there is no end in sight. Unfortunately, this trend is also affecting not only the prices of garden materials, seeds and plants, but also availability.
So here we are at the start of another year, and while most of us wait until the middle of winter to plan the garden for the next season, we would do well to start now, as dramatic changes can happen. happen anytime, and often without notice at all.
Labor shortages and interruptions in the supply chain now appear to be the norm. Will that new hybrid vegetable you discovered last year and loved so much be available this year? Maybe, and maybe not. Because of this uncertainty, it will be up to all of us to do our gardening errands early, as long as stocks are still available.
Getting back to basics
We saw it in 2020. Confined people have regained a taste for gardening. And due to gaps in the supply chain, the prices of common items have increased dramatically. This trend has not abated at all and, in fact, things have gotten worse with each passing month.
The same goes for other outdoor activities. Fishing and hunting, solo sports, saw a dramatic increase in the number of participants, many of whom were beginners. Even astronomy, once a lonely pastime for the privileged few, has become a privileged pastime. I recently checked telescope prices and found out that the same telescope sold in 2019 now costs almost a hundred dollars more. Ditto for the accessories.
One of the reasons for the increased interest in amateur astronomy is that as more and more people are forced to stay at home, a solo nighttime activity such as astronomy has started to seem more and more popular. more interesting. Better stay indoors and watch TV
The same goes for gardening. The lockdowns were the initial reason for this renewed interest. Today, many people refrain from going to the supermarket unless it is absolutely necessary, as it involves wearing masks and social distancing, and even then who knows if the person next to you is. line has COVID-19? A better alternative is to grow your own. And so, people who have never gardened before are now innovating, planting seeds and hoping for the best.
If there is something good about all of this, maybe it is that more and more people are getting back to basics, enjoying nature and going out more.
I notice an increased interest in useful wild plants, a subject that I have spent a lifetime studying and many years teaching and writing. Now that people have more time, or a lot of it, they want to know if this funny weed is useful. Most of the time, this is also the case.
This is called foraging, the act of harvesting wild crops for food and / or medicine. I’m old enough to remember that in the spring the newly green fields would be alive with people harvesting dandelions for that fresh, green first treat of the season. This sort of thing is coming back with renewed vigor. We are rediscovering the wonders of the natural world that we have so long ignored.
Not only do we need to order our seeds and seedlings early, but we also need to do extensive comparison work. Some seed companies have significantly increased prices.
I’m pretty promiscuous about who I buy my seeds from. It all comes down to who gets me the best deal. This year I had thought about buying my vegetable seeds from Gurney’s, an old-fashioned favorite seed and nursery company. Imagine my surprise, then, when browsing their new catalog, I saw a price of $ 7.99 for a packet of their Gurney Girl’s Best Hybrid tomato, a big favorite across the board. My eyesight wasn’t what it used to be and I adjusted my glasses, figuring the price was per pound of seed. But no, it was for a bundle.
Likewise, the prices of Gurney’s other commodities were much higher than other outlets. Standard fare such as Blue Lake bush beans costs $ 2.99 per pack, compared to $ 1.95 for the same item from Pinetree Seeds, a Maine-based company. Glazed Green Lettuce costs $ 3.99 per pack, compared to $ 1.95 at Pinetree.
To sum up, I would rather go buy a tomato from the supermarket, save the seeds and plant them, and hope for the best, than spend around eight dollars for a packet of inspected and named seeds.
This emphasizes the wisdom of growing an heirloom or open-pollinated varieties of all vegetables and saving the seeds. The day may come, and it may already be here, when you will need to get a bank loan just to buy your garden seeds.
So shop early and good luck. We will all need it.
Tom Seymour of Frankfort is an owner, gardener, gatherer, naturalist, registered Maine guide, amateur astronomer, magazine and newspaper columnist, and book author.
Food for Life: Indian Spice Slow Cooker Stew