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Understanding seed catalogs

Lake Michigan in winter
Lake Michigan in winter
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Chicago gardeners, besides being illustrative works of art, seed catalogs provide important information for the gardener. They inform gardeners of the newest, most productive and most unique plants available. Everyone should examine as many catalogs as possible before making purchases for their garden.

Begin by flipping through a catalog and enjoying the numerous, eye-catching illustrations. Then look for its organizational features including tables of contents, order forms, coupons, indexes, guarantees, symbols, delivery information and additional specialty catalogs to send for. Examine each of these characteristics carefully.

Now, with your list of the items you need beside you, look through the catalog for each of the seeds or live plants you need. Jot down the name of the catalog, the price and the page number where you found the plant on your list.

Follow this procedure for each of your seed catalogs. Include this data in your Chicago Garden Notebook or your Chicago Garden Notebook computer file. If you are computer savvy, you can organize this data into an Excel chart for easy reference.

When you are finished with all your catalogs and ready to place your orders, decide whether you prefer to order by phone, mail or online. If you have any gift cards, gather those together before you order. Even if you aren’t ordering by mail, it’s a good idea to fill out the order form so you have a record of exactly what you ordered.

Supposing the item you want can’t be located in any of your catalogs? Go to your favorite online store, and look for the seeds or plants. You can then complete your order online.

Ordering seeds, plants or supplies can be a delightful experience if you follow the above steps.

Live long and well—garden.

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