Catalog product

January is catalog time for Alaskan gardeners, and that usually means going online.

I do not know what it is. Maybe he’s consuming candy canes or those little tangerines. Or maybe drinking eggnog is the cause. I just don’t know, but in my experience something happens to the gardener’s memory during the winter holiday season.

Somehow everyone is forgetting about last year’s garden and starting to plan for this year’s one. Everyone wants to order seeds and start plants. Just a month before, absolutely no one was interested. This phenomenon is why January is the time when seed sales take off, even though most cannot plant until May.

To try and satisfy that urge, I typically write catalogs and websites throughout the month of January. I now wonder if this is a practice worth repeating. There are a few new things to consider this year.

The first is the choice between paper catalogs and webalogs. For the first time, if you want to sell seeds, you have to have a website. You don’t need a paper catalog. It’s the new way to market, a huge change for gardeners, reflecting both a decline in the average age of gardeners and an increase in the ability of older gardeners to browse the web.

It occurred to me as I contemplated the difference between the hard copy of the Territorial seed catalog and the website which both offer the exact same seeds. I like the interactivity and cruising ability of the website; my daughter loves the paper catalog. Ironically, ordering the hard copy pretty much requires a computer.

I know many readers will say otherwise, but I think the day of the paper garden catalog should be over. (I remember listing dozens of postal mail catalog addresses over the past few years, not so long ago.) They just aren’t sustainable. It is a prudent gardening practice to at least try to limit the number of trees needed for you to grow spring seeds.

I admit that the territorial catalog is pretty darn pleasant to browse. So is the Baker Creek Legacy seed catalog. In fact, this seed house has two catalogs to order: the free one and the coffee table, what does that mean? – version, the complete catalog, which costs around 12 dollars and which I call gardener pornography. (Check them here.) Before ordering either, try to reproduce the website on your high resolution large screen TV. If you don’t know what mirroring is, maybe you should order the hard copy.

Sometimes we don’t have a choice between a hard copy and a webalog. Denali Seeds does not have a printed catalog. Check out what they have to offer. If you’re new to gardening in Alaska, this is a place to start without having to kill a tree. Owner Reg Yaple’s book, “Gardening From Seed in Arctic and Sub-arctic Areas,” is only available in print, but it’s usable year after year and even experts will get a lot out of it.

In addition to the web versus paper question, there is the question of whether it is necessary to list particular seed houses each January? Given the power of internet search engines these days, isn’t a simple nudge to a particular type plant or garden enough for the reader? If so, consider yourself pushed.

Seed houses are fairly easy to find. All you have to do is use an internet search engine and dig around a bit. It is amazing how easy it is to find not only web blogs to browse but all kinds of related information. From ‘seed catalogs for new gardeners’ to ‘cold hardy perennials from seed’ to ‘hardiness zone for growing licorice roots’ to ‘northern figs’, everything you want is there for the to ask.

So this year, instead of listing me millions of websites to go to or to buy seeds for, scour your computers and see what you want to see, not what I think you should see! I’m always here for suggestions, of course, although the first is that you buy seeds from local outlets. You can find just about any seed you would want to germinate and grow in your garden right here at local nurseries. This is where you should get the majority if not all of your seeds.

Jeff’s Alaska Garden Calendar

Call for speakers: Alaska Botanical Garden Spring 2022 conference: Friday and Saturday March 11 and 12. It will be a virtual conference. Proposals should be submitted by January 17 to the GBS Program Director at [email protected]

Recycling Christmas trees: What are you waiting for? Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling Tree recycling, in partnership with the Municipality of Anchorage’s solid waste management services and Carrs / Safeway, runs through January 15. Look for signs and gates in parking lots at Anchorage, Eagle River, and Palmer Carrs stores.

Poinsettias: Ah, make decisions. Keep or throw away. Keep if you have lights. Stir if you don’t, but keep the pot.