Seed catalog inspires summer garden dreams on winter's day

Jerry Apps
So many ways to enjoy gardening. Selecting seeds from a seed catalog is but one way.

My daughter-in-law, Natasha, and I put together our seed order for the 2019 garden season. We started with tomatoes—one of our main crops. We set out about 75 tomato plants each year. But which varieties should we choose this year?

A few choices were easy. We’ve planted Early Girl, Big Boy, and Wisconsin 55 varieties for several years. But we are always looking for something new.

So many tomato choices. We looked at Box Car Willy, and Cherokee Purple. We considered Mortgage Lifter and Saucy Lady, and Jersey Devil and Big League Hybrid. Beautiful pictures. Creative names. We settled on Plum Royal, Mt. Merit and Giant Oxheart.

On to the sweet corn varieties. Who could pass on Sugar Buns? We ordered it. Then there was Spring Treat and Bodacious Yellow, along with Trinity Bicolor, Cuppa Joe Bicolor, and Sweetie 82, Pay Dirt and American Dream—a pass on these. But we did add Peaches and Cream to our list.

Cucumbers. Two pages of cucumber choices. We looked at Muncher, Straight Eight, and Summer Yet. Then on to Summer Dance and Sweeter Yet. We chose, Little Leaf, and Goliath Hybrid “Plant produces loads of dark green fruit up to eight inches long.” We’re looking forward to “loads” of cukes. 

We ordered green beans (Top Crop), and carrots (Nantes), beets (Detroit Supreme), Kale (Russian), Lettuce (Salad Bowl) plus peas, radishes, pumpkins, and squash especially zucchini. Kennebec is our choice for potatoes.

We purchase onion sets, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi from a garden center.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: So many ways to enjoy gardening. Selecting seeds from a seed catalog is but one way.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to