The last few years, usually in winter, I have received in the mail a few various plant and seed catalogs. I’ll pick it up and take a minute to glance through it. Not that I’m likely going to order anything, I just like to look. What always intrigues me are the really nice colors photos that correspond to the items being advertised. There will be lush pictures of super-size tomatoes, new types of watermelons that get humongous, ever-flowering ornamental trees in all sorts of wild colors, and fantastic, spotless fruits of all kinds. It is simply amazing. Just order their super seeds and plants and your garden will look like their photos. Yeah, right. Although all these wonderful photos and talk are simply just marketing and selling techniques, they are sort of inspiring.
Looking through plant and seed catalogs makes one wish it was spring already so one could get started planting and growing things. But unfortunately, it is still mid winter and still cold. Not much growing going on. However, you can go ahead and order your seeds and begin planning your vegetable garden. Nothing wrong with getting a head start. You can also go ahead and order any fruit trees and small fruits that you might like to grow. Don’t put if off. The month of February is the ideal time to start new plantings and get them set out before spring.
Plant and seed catalogs may also inspire those of you who might not be experience gardeners to have a garden this year. A garden or orchard doesn’t have to extravagant to be successful. Start off small with a few crops that you like to eat. There are many varieties of vegetables and fruits out on the market; I bet there is one you can grow. And if you don’t have the traditional ground space for a garden, try raising your crops in containers or raised beds. In fact, you might be even more successful and productive this way.
A word of caution. Before ordering and buying plants or seeds from any source, be sure they are adapted for growing in our area. Don’t be fooled into buying something that won’t survive in our Alabama climate. Caveat Emptor: “Let the Buyer Beware”.
Do Research Before Buying Fruit Trees
Having a home orchard with lots of fruit trees and eating fresh, home-grown fruit in the summer is a dream for many people. However, wanting a home orchard and having a home orchard is two separate things. It can be a wonderful thing if managed right or it can turn into a nightmare if done wrong. Much of the success or failure of having a home orchard lies primarily on the variety of the fruits chosen. Simply going out and buying just any type of fruit tree is easy enough and sounds like a good idea, right? Doing just that and not doing your homework can result in a very bad investment.
Before you order a fruit crop from a catalog, find out what varieties of fruit trees and small fruits grow best in our area. The truth is that it is very difficult to grow most of those types of fruits you see in the grocery store and catalogs. Alabama climate conditions of hot and dry summers and mild winters just won’t let you have that perfect orchard full of fabulous fruit. That is why other states are known for growing certain fruits. Peaches tend to grow better in Georgia, oranges do well in Florida, apples are perfect in Washington, and everything grows in California. But don’t worry, fruit can be grown in Alabama and be grown successfully. You just have to know which varieties will work in Alabama.
If you want to grow apples, then try these varieties: Gala, Fuji, Rome, McIntosh, Jonathon, Smoothee or Granny Smith. For peaches, try Redhaven, Sweethaven, Belle of Georgia, and AU Glow. If you like pears, then you might want to try Orient, Kieffer, or Moonglow (soft). AU Producer, AU Roadside, and AU Cherry are great varieties of plums. You won’t go wrong with varieties of figs like Brown Turkey, Celeste, LSU Gold, and LSU Purple. A few blueberry varieties you will enjoy are Tifblue, Premier, and Climax. Cardinal, Earliglow, and Chandler are a few suggested types of strawberries. Navaho, Kiowa, Cheynne, and Apache are examples of blackberries that will do great. If you like grapes, go with mucadines since they will do much better than bunch grapes.
With so many plant and seed catalog companies out there, there is a wide variety to choose from. Sometimes it is very hard to tell who may be the best or if it even makes a difference. The best way is to just compare or talk to someone who has experience with that specific company. With many of the seed and plant catalog companies now on the internet, you can easily shop around to find the best deals.
But let’s face the facts. It doesn’t matter how great the color photos are or how super the variety is if the garden isn’t care for and managed. You still have to do the little things, but if you do, then you too will have some very nice photos to show.