It is never too early to start your seed shopping for next year.

When the weather becomes cooler, and I find myself not wanting to be outside for hours on end, I retreat indoors and start making my lists. I tend to make lists for nearly everything in life, but seed shopping is my all time favorite to make. And starting your list now is, in my eyes, the best time to start. You still have the layout of your land fresh in your mind, because luckily we aren’t covered with a layer of snow. If you wait much longer, you may have to just go off memory and try your best to be close to accurate.

Figuring out how much available space you have is a difficult task. During the first round of going through the seed catalog I am intrigued by every variety available.

Once reality sets in, and I realize that I cannot plant my entire yard full of plants, then I need to begin narrowing things down. I mean, I could plant the whole yard full, but I know I don’t have enough time to take care of that much area. I tend to overplant already. I have to keep myself in check so I don’t overwhelm myself too much before summer.

I draw up a rough sketch of my yard with all of my different planting areas. Then I can map out where I intend to plant things and how much space is still open for me to fill.

Figure out which plants are the ones that you just can’t live without. It is easy to end up with a $300 seed order if you don’t watch it.

I have an obsession for heirloom tomatoes. Obsession, addiction, it may be a bit of both. They come in so many different colors, and flavors that it is hard choosing which varieties to grow each year. I write down the varieties that grow well for me every year, regardless of the weather, which are Golden Jubilee, Rutgers, Yellow Pear and Large Red Cherry.

From there I try to narrow things down to one variety per color. So that adds up to one green, one white, one orange, one stripey, one purple and then I move onto the different shapes and textures. I always grow a peach fuzzed variety, such as Garden Peach, and then an oxheart variety. Then one of all the different colors of cherry sized tomatoes. That is only the list-making for the tomatoes.

By the time I get through the rest of the vegetable types, I am pretty much mentally exhausted. But it’s onward to flower shopping, which is even trickier because I love all things beautiful. This is why I must start my seed shopping way early.

I will end up going through my list and revising several times before finally settling and placing my order, which is usually around January or so. Then I just have to be sure not to lose my list and map when planting season actually starts. Take advantage of these cool days and get your shopping started.

Sacha Burns is an organic gardener and owner of Sunkissed Organics in Pinola. She may be reached at sachabrittburns@yahoo.com.

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