Twas the week after Christmas, and all through the mail, ThHe catalogs started arriving, on schedule, without fail… Nothing takes away the chill of January days like paging through glossy, colorful seed catalogs full of the promise of spring. Now is the ideal time to begin planning for the spring and summer garden. Following a few guidelines for catalog seed shopping will net good results and save money (unless you get carried away). Create a realistic plan for your needs. Inventory the seeds that you have. You may want to perform a germination test on any seeds that you have had more than three to four years. Unless you want to grow something different or try a new variety will the seeds you have be appropriate for your needs? XXXXXPlant your grocery list. Plant things that you eat all the time throughout the summer or that you’ll store for winter—tomatoes, herbs (which can be pricey at the supermarket), peas, carrots, peppers, lettuce, potatoes, beets, etc. Plant flowers for pollinators and bouquets. Not only do certain blooms act as natural pest control, they also attract valuable pollinators to the garden that will help boost your edible yield. Bees and hummingbirds love them. Buy with consideration for the appropriate conditions. What growing zone and soil is required. (Marengo is in zone 5b). Do the plants require full sun or partial shade? Do plants have resistance to common diseases and pests. Consider days to maturity. Seed packages have information about days to maturity, meaning how long the seed will take to grow into a fully mature plant. Make selections of varieties with different days to maturity to provide harvests through the season. Be mindful of shipping costs. Companies can vary a great deal for shipping charges. Know the whole cost, not just the price of the seeds. Concentrate on ordering from fewer catalogs to save money. Finally, order early. To ensure that you get the seeds you want, don’t wait to order. Some seed catalogs alert customers that new varieties tend to sell out quickly.