The first real winter storm has hit the farm. It's cold out, the wind is blowing and I can barely see the woods line from where I type, meaning visibility is not good at all. It's a good day to take on indoor tasks, and after I finished sweeping up the mud on the kitchen floor again, I needed another project for the day. Strangely enough, seeing all this blowing snow gets me excited to start thinking about the 2012 garden. I enjoy sitting on the couch or near the woodburner, perusing the seed catalogs with a highlighter and a pen and notebook to begin creating a wish list of plants I'd like to grow, plus lots of price & volume comparisons. It's a major undertaking, but it's always enjoyable.
But before I start planning our seed purchases, I need to find out what is still here, meaning an afternoon of sorting through seed packets which have been stored away since planting stopped. I have a spreadsheet where I keep track of the types of seeds I have, both what vegetable and what variety, plus the quantity on hand and when it was purchased or harvested. I've been trying to do better at saving seed from our own garden plants, which is only possible with older, heirloom plants, not the modern hybrids. We do use some of the modern varieties for disease resistance or productivity, but we've been steadily incorporating more heirlooms each year. So in addition to seeing how many small white packets of commercial seed are in the box, I also have an assortment of envelopes and brown bags, each carefully labelled "Chives" or "Christmas Lima" or "Pink Banana Squash". It's exciting to see how much of our own seed we can preserve, which in the end results not just in a smaller bill come spring planting, but also should produce plants that are most suited to our particular climate and location.
Once all the packets have been inspected and inventoried, I'll put the boxes back in their cool, dry space in the pantry. Then I'll get out the highlighter and notepad and the gorgeous assortment of seed catalogs that have arrived and start dreaming of the possibilities of spring!