Confessions Of A Seed Addict

I am a seedaholic – and this time of year is especially rough for me and others like me.  The seed catalogs have arrived, with all of their colorful glossy photos designed to tempt the gardener with promises of summer bouquets and homegrown vegetables – all of the scents and textures of life itself.

Each time I visit the mailbox and find a new arrival, I wonder what the neighbors think.  A wave of thrills and excitement passes through me.  I clutch the catalog to my chest as if it was the latest issue of Tiger Beat and I’m a giddy 11-year-old school girl.  And, I swear, I feel like skipping.


Once inside and settled onto the couch, the ritual begins.  First, there is the page-by-page exploration.    I’m first drawn in by the cover selection – which plant made the cut — it’s as exciting to me as the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition reveal is to the folks at “Entertainment Tonight.”  Next comes the opening pages of new arrivals and colors and product names – and all the while, I am keeping a running wish list in my head. 

I’m not sure when I had my first taste of seed love.  I do remember a gift when I was kid.  It was a kind of Petri dish with a clear gel.  A few bean seeds were placed in the gel, and I was then able to watch the seeds transform into roots and stems and leaves — fascinating stuff to an 8-year-old that has remained fascinating to a 48-year-old.

Once Joe and I moved in together, I revisited my seed love.  I started off with the easy ones, zinnias and sunflowers planted outside where I wanted them to grow.  My addiction soon progressed.  I started flats of seeds on top of the refrigerator, an excellent spot for bottom warmth, which is essential for successful germination.  Once sprouted, the flats were moved to the dining room, the sunniest room in the house.  All dinner parties were canceled until my tender babies could be acclimated to the outdoors and planted.

After Joe designed and built the potting shed, seed catalogs took on a whole new sense of importance in my life.  First, we no longer have to wait until after the last frost date to have a dinner party.  Second, I discovered all seeds are possible.  There is a kind of serenity that I realize each February as I work in the shed. It’s warm in there, and it’s icy cold just on the other side of the glass. And each tiny seed holds so much miracle inside. It’s hard to believe that a bed of Impatiens can come from seeds as fine as powder.

After my initial perusal of the catalogs, I get to serious work.  I draw circles around plants, dog-ear pages, and keep an eye open for my experimental seeds, something that would be fun and challenging to grow.  I research my selections.  And I make lists – lots and lots of lists, noting the price and the amount I am getting for my money, as well as the free gift.  Since I began gardening, I have noticed that prices for seeds have increased greatly.  (Sissy, a northern Illinois gardener, addresses this issue in an interesting post on her blog, Got Serenity.)

Then comes the editing.  Do I want to grow Cosmos again?  Do I want to devote myself to one color, say all red flowers?  Items are crossed off and added as I discover which catalog offers the best value.  I also have to repeat to myself, “I am not a commercial grower.  I am not a commercial grower.”  The truth is, I have limited space in the yard, and all-too-often, I overdo it and I am left with an abundance of plants. 

There are times, I must admit, when I feel as if the seeds are controlling my life.  There are certain dates when they must be started.  Watering arrangements have to be made if Joe and I make any travel plans.  I wonder if I need an intervention to free me from the clutches of my pushers: Burpee, Jung, Park, and Stokes, to name a few.

There has got to be an easier way to garden.  Maybe, I say to myself, I should convert all of my annual beds into perennial borders.    That’s when I notice the catalogs staring at me, calling me, convincing me until I admit, “I could so grow perennials from seed.”

22 thoughts on “Confessions Of A Seed Addict

  1. how timely, I just received my first order of seeds in yesterday. (yes, not only have I received the catalogues I’ve already ordered!) Four kinds of tomatoes such bliss. I usually have highlighters and markers at the ready when going through the catalogues. It’s like when I was a kid and circled all the things I wanted out of the Sears Christmas Wish Book. Yep, a support group is definitely in order.

  2. I too have a problem with seeds and I have no room at my home garden to plant them. In fact, seed packets are sitting on my office counter from last year yet. I am ready to plant those veggies out in our city medium strip. But how long do you think a ripe veggie would last? I can plant at the farm, but to get the guys to water them now and then is a whole different story.

    • Maybe you can donate the seeds to a local school, church, or food pantry? Teachers can help the students grow the seeds, and the harvest can be donated. Just an idea. . . Until then, stay warm and happy planting thoughts.

    • 🙂 Sure. There is a photo of the shed in one of the earlier posts, probably from April or May. The shed measures about 10′ x 10′. Part of it is dedicated to storage (the shed part) and the other section is under glass for potting and growing. There isn’t any running water, so I carry it in. And heat is provided by the sun and a space heater at night. It’s all I really need for some relaxation. Be well.

  3. Pingback: The heirloom garden | enclos*ure

  4. Ahhh, youth. I remember the joy of seeds. Now, at my advanced I go directly for the plants. Immediate gratification triumphs over patience. Thanks, however, for triggering memories of youthful pleasures, Kevin. Seed on!

    • Lee, you’re young at heart! And believe me, there are many days that I weigh the seed responsibility against plants and I wonder, “Hmmmm. Maybe it’s time to skip the seed stage.”

      • You’re absolutely right, Kevin. And, young at heart is as good as young in years. Long time ago, a woman in her nineties explained her secret to longevity: “Gardening keeps you young.” Heart, soul and body, if not years. Cheers!

  5. Not only am I a seedaholic, I have become very devious about it. I have convinced two of my children to grow plants from seed for their school science projects. I am turning them into enablers. This year, my daughter is growing Tommy Toe heirloom tomatoes for a project on organic fertilizers. We’ll be using banana peels, egg shells, pet hair (ew…), and blood meal. She’s excited because she likes to say Tommy Toe over and over, and I’m excited because I can pretend that I don’t have a serious seed issue.

    • I don’t think this is a problem — yet. But if you coerce your kids into harvesting seeds from the neighbor’s flowers, I may have to call the appropriate authorities. Good luck with the heirlooms!

  6. Looks like I’m in good company… I finally had to start numbering the plastic shoeboxes full of seed enveleopes. Since I order most of my ‘store-bought’ seeds online, I’m spared the temptations of the annual catalog avalanche. I do make lists, and spreadsheets where I track when seeds are winter sowed, seed source, sprout date, germination rate, date first true leaves form, first flower, etc. Anyone else keep a garden diary from year to year?

    The neighbors are all enablers so I collect seeds from all their perennials & shrubs as well as my own.

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