My self-help guide to resisting seed and plant catalogue order overload

It’s around about now that the seed and plant catalogues for the coming year come pouring through the letter box, as though a dump truck full of them were connected to your front door via a big funnel. If like me you’re prone to ordering one of everything, here is my guide to resistance.

Don’t look at dahlias

One look at a dahlia catalogue and like Medusa you’re frozen staring at their writhing petals, waking to find ten in your shopping basket. The best bet is to not look at all, definitely don’t look at Sarah Raven. Ok maybe it’s fine to order one from Sarah Raven, they match so cleverly with the Ammi majus and Cosmos ‘Double Click Cranberries’. Alright, f@&# it you might as well order two. Actually get five because they’re on discount. And if you’re doing that you might as well buy ten more from somewhere else too. Save money for an emergency top up dahlia in summer. Of course you have room and budget left if you resist everything else. Just don’t forget the Cosmos.

Make a list of veg to grow before diving in

I like to draw up a list of the vegetables we eat and make sure I don’t look at a single seed catalogue without it. Making sure I ONLY buy what’s on the list. Then I consciously pick up Chiltern Seeds and throw my list away, of course I need ten different types of Pak choi, how else am I to know which ones taste best! It’s important to know. Repeat for every vegetable.

Set aside one day and only buy on that day

It’s easy to lose track of what you’re buying if you keep looking at seed websites every other week. A little bit here, a little bit there, before you know it you’re drowning in seeds. If you buy everything in one go, you’re done, a clean cut off until next year. But damn, what about those peach coloured foxgloves I forgot to order. Ok, no harm in going back in for that one packet of seeds, what’s the worst that could happen? One packet turned into a longer order than the first, that’s what. Well, at least it makes the postage economical.

Audit your order

Before clicking buy, STOP! Review your list, look at the cost and ask yourself “do I really need all of this”. I audit my order, seeing it as saving money by cutting £75 down to £40. Who needs celery after all, and there’s really no point in ordering three different purple carrots. If by the end of your audit the cost has actually gone up, as mine often does (there was an advert for poppies!) stop right there. Do not proceed with a second audit. Do. Not. Proceed.

Don’t try anything new

“Try something new!” I’ve seen myself type for Telegraph Gardening, tears streaming down my face to the doom I’m condemning readers. Why grow something new? Buy only what you know you like and will eat, you’ll be full and happy with some money saved to treat your loved ones to an icecream in summer. (Except for edamame, they’re definitely worth growing, don’t forget to buy mibuna, mizuna and okra too, and beetroot ‘Chioggia’ with purple and white circles, they taste horrible but always go down well on social media. Sod it, who likes ice cream anyway when there’s salsify to grow).

Do you really need to grow dried flowers?

Ask yourself, is this really the year you need a patch of flowers to dry and display around the house? You didn’t need them before, why now. I mean Higgledy Garden has a great selection of cut flowers which also includes corn flowers for drying, and they’re organic and he lives on a barge with a dog, and writes funny things. Ok so it might be alright to buy a few seeds from Higgledy Garden but keep the order small. Oh, you’ve already ordered ten and are considering adding Chinese lanterns and honesty?

Collect your own seeds

Why support our capitalist oppressors when everyone knows it’s better for our well-being to collect and save your own seeds. It’s more rewarding to be there at the start of your plant’s journey, a true parent to your plant babies. Sure, you can’t find black poppies in the wild, I know you won’t find pink Scabious growing naturally either, and alright, alright everyone knows those white pumpkins everyone loved at Halloween don’t come true from seed. Just pop me down for a tenner and get me some cinnamon basil seeds while you’re at it, yeah?

Give up on houseplants from seed

So you’ve grown coleus from seed successfully (even though they’re called Solenostemon) and now you’re thinking “I’ve got this, and that packet of cactus seeds looks good, why shouldn’t I give it a try?” Stop right there my friend. It won’t work in your shaded town flat, you know it, I know it. I’ve tried with Lithops many times. But now you mention it, I DO have a feeling 2021 is the year. They’ll get past the germination stage and I’ll definitely find room for a hundred plants that look like bums.

8 thoughts on “My self-help guide to resisting seed and plant catalogue order overload

  1. Marvellous! Is there a term for garden-related hoarding? MY OH calls the catalogues “plant porn” because of the way I pour over them. Chiltern’s photos are especially sexy…

    I am only saved by being very cheap. By the beginning of December I have ordered my (tightly reined in) selections but, if a discount or free shipping shows up, it is all up for grabs.

    And don’t get me started on the dahlias….I already have a wish
    It’s as long as my arm and very little space left to grow them. Oh maybe a couple then…

  2. Oh Jack you are a hoot and all you’ve said is so true. How does it happen? You start off with good intentions and then it’s like a switch is flicked and you’ve just got to have … and oh I forgot.

    I’ve already an order for dahlias and chrysanthemums. I’ve never grown chrysanthemums before. I’d completely forgotten I’d ordered them until I read your post. I’ve a cut flower patch at the lottie. Obviously it needs more flowers!

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