The hardest part about gardening is deciding what to plant.
When I open the pages of a new seed catalog, the first things I see are colorful photos of luscious looking flowers and vegetables that I'm sure were enhanced to tempt me into buying. Will my flowers and vegetables look that good, I wonder? I've gardened enough over the years to believe that some actually do and some actually don't, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to place a big order. What prompts my decision to buy?
It can be several things. In some cases, I simply choose a plant because of its name.
Sometimes I run across a plant that reminds me of someone, so I will buy the seeds, start them growing and then gift them to my friends. It is fun for me because nothing is better than giving gifts and I get to grow something new. This year I have my eye on the 'Carmelita' tomato for personal reasons.
But the "something new" is probably the real enticement for choosing certain plants. I love growing new things, whether it is that failed attempt at growing jicama or casting off all warnings from the husband that the giant pumpkin vines will ultimately take over the yard, thus making his mowing a bit inconvenient. I don't particularly care for cucumbers, but I grow them anyway because it's so much fun.
This summer I've got my eye on shell beans. I've grown them before, years ago, and remember the tedious time spent separating the dried beans from the pods at summer's end, but what I grew were simple kidney, great northern and butter (Lima) beans.
This year I'm thinking of planting beans with names like Coco Rubico, a red mottled bean from France; Italian Red; and purple speckled Jackson Wonder Lima beans. This year, I believe, will be the year of beans.
Of course, I also choose my seeds based on what I've grown in the past. I might go for kohlrabi, something we never ate until I decided one year I wanted to try it in the garden.
But my choices aren't limited to the vegetable garden. I've also had my eye on blossoms of a new hollyhock called Apricot-Peach Parfait as well as a dwarf "knee-high" version of sweet peas called Jack & Jill.
This winter, while the snow is piled several inches high at the end of the driveway, it is refreshing to browse through those catalogs to get summer gardening ideas.