Odd Weather, Old Seed Catalogs and a Quiz

Who else thought those warm days earlier this week were more creepy than welcome? It just wasn't right. Unusual record breaking warm weather in January messes with your mind and makes you think you are behind because you haven't ordered your seeds yet.

I, for one, am relieved to see the return of more winter-like temperatures. Now I can happily continue with my seed obsessing, indoor plant messing ways for many more weeks, without thinking I've got to get outside to take advantage of warm weather.

After spending my life in zone 5, I am just not programmed to spend time outside in the garden in January.

I'm programmed to look at seed catalogs and make lists, long lists, of what family and friends can get me for my birthday.

So, how about a quiz to see if you have learned anything from my previous posts on old seeds and seed catalogs?

It's just one question.

Why do I have a 1976 Burpee Seed Catalog?

a) Because I have an extensive seed catalog collection and I am about to reveal how extensive it is in this post.

b) Because 1976 was the year I was born and my Mom and Dad just knew I'd be a gardener and would like to have this catalog.

c) Because it is from the bicenntenial year and I thought it would be neat to keep it.

d) Because it is from the 100th anniversary year of Burpee Seeds, and I knew that one day Burpee would be sold and become part of a big corporation and we would all reminisce about the days when Burpee was the seed catalog choice of every home gardener.

Please write down your answer before continuing so you can grade yourself. We'll use the honor system.

The correct answer is...

c) Because it is from the bicenntenial year and I thought it would be neat to keep it. If you picked this answer, give yourself one point.

Let's review why the other answers are incorrect.

a) I do not have an extensive seed catalog collection. Actually, truth be told, I recycle all the seed catalogs in the spring, except the one or two that I order from. I keep those for reference for awhile longer and then recycle them later on. But, given the big box of old seeds I posted about, if you guessed this was the answer, I can see why so give yourself half a point.

b) Really, you thought I was born in 1976? That's awfully nice of you but not quite true. Hints of my true age abound on this blog. And while I don't think my parents knew the year I was born that I was destined to be a gardener, I think they saw signs of my interest in gardening at a fairly early age. If you picked this one, give yourself two points for thinking I was that young.

d) No one can predict the future, but I suspect I am not the only gardener who remembers the old Burpee seed catalogs and ordered a fair number of seeds from them 'back in the day'. Even today, I can't resist looking through the Burpee seed catalog and remembering how I used to read it cover to cover and help my Dad pick out seeds to order. I don't order from it anymore because I know that Burpee seeds are available at many big box stores at a discount. For old times sake I'll look through those racks in the store and pick up a few packets of zinnias or sunflowers or other direct-sow annuals. Give yourself zero points for this answer, unless you also were a big fan of the old Burpee seed catalogs, then give yourself one-fourth of a point.

Tonight I flipped through the pages of the 1976 catalog.

In 1976, the Big Girl hybrid tomato was 'new and exclusive' and a packet of seed set you back 75 cents.

I couldn't find the Big Girl tomato in the 2008 catalog. She seems to have been tossed aside for newer varieties and re-discovered heirloom varieties. I guess the new-ness and exclusive-ness of a variety doesn't last forever.

So how did you do on the quiz?


  1. I got a point or two but when I came to the "born in 1976" I knew that you looked almost that young but I didn't quite think so. :) And no this weird weather is not right and sadly our gardens will pay for it I am afraid.

  2. Our winters often have warm days, and I enjoy and count on being able to putter in the garden all winter, when it's actually pleasant to be outdoors (compared to summer). But our record-setting 80 degrees a couple of days ago was too high for my taste too. Let's save those 80s for April, or even May. January is too early!

  3. This weather is almost torture for me here in northern NY. We have so much more winter ahead and it is a real tease! We lost almost all of our couple feet of snow in just a few days. The kids are lamenting the loss of their snowfort and good sledding.

    I really had no idea how old you are, but was feeling very old to think you were born in 1976...I was 16 that year! You do the math on how old I am. LOL

  4. My son appropriated the T-shirt I'd saved from the Bicentennial so that stuff is still popular. I guessed you might have saved 1976 stuff, too, Carol. We ordered more seeds from Park than from Burpee - maybe there's an old Park catalog around here somewhere.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  5. You don't have an extensive seed catalog collection? Boy, does my face look red. ;-)

    Wish we had some balmy January days, here we have the brrrrr cold and ugh wet kind, or both.

  6. Carol I'm with you NOT liking the balmy warm weather of this past week!
    Global warming most definately!
    I want to continue hibernating until this broken ankle heals and that should be just around Spring showers!
    hop a long NG

  7. I guessed corretly, but I had un unfair advantage. I know what year you were born. I thought about working in the yard Monday after work, but never did. I do have bulbs peeking out of the ground however.
    Kathy, the older sister

  8. I realized you were a born gardener the day you opted to stay home from a fun adventure because your Dad was going to start the garden for the season & you wanted to be there. I knew then that you were hopeless.

  9. I incorrectly guessed (b).

    We are having a warm spell right now and I'm glad of it. Rain would be nice though.

  10. Wait a minute-wait a minute! "Hopeless"?

    Eleanor, don't you mean you realized Carol was horticulturally gifted? Or lucky to have discovered adventure in the garden?

    [of course now I wonder what "fun adventure" you turned down, Carol ;-]

  11. I guessed (a) because I thought you were giving the answer away by stating, "and I'm about to reveal how extensive it is in this post." You tricked me!

    Being from the south, and being used to warmer winters, I did enjoy the warmer days. However, it concerns me and takes away some of the joy when I remember what happened during last years freeze. I'd rather enjoy all the seasons, each at their own time.

  12. I made a lucky guess. But then I've saved Bicentennial quarters & pennies. I with you about disliking 60sF in January. It's just not right. I just noticed today that 1 of my Clematis had sprouted a few leaves. Definitely not a good sign.

  13. Lisa at Greenbow, Though I haven't been outside to check closely, I don't think we'll see any real damage from this brief warm up, especially now that it is getting cold again.

    Pam/digging, 80 does seem too warm in January, anywhere. So what will the temperature be in Austin in early April?

    Debbie, We are 'nearly' the same age. I'll admit I was born before 1976, making b) a completely wrong answer.

    Annie in Austin, I went through a spell, fairly recently, when I ordered from Parks, but I used to buy most of my seeds at Franks half-price sale. That seed catalog is the only thing I remember saving from the bicentennial year.

    Yolanda Elizabet, Nope, no big seed catalog collection, just that one little ol' catalog (that I know of).

    NatureGirl, Yes, it is better to heal a broken ankle in the winter when there isn't a lot to do outside, anyway.

    Kathy, That reminds me that I need to go out and check some of my bulbs to see if any are starting to come up.

    Eleanor, Hopeless? Or helpful in the garden?

    Bill, We are getting a lot of rain here, and just north of us they have flooding.

    Annie in Austin, Thank you for sticking up for me! I have no idea what 'fun adventure' Eleanor (Mom) was referring to. I will have to ask her. I only remember gardening!

    Robin's Nesting Place, I didn't really try to trick you on purpose. I agree, let each season be its own season.

    Mr. McGregor's Daughter, Leaves sprouting in January is definitely not a good sign.

    Thanks all for the comments and for taking the quiz.
    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  14. I didn't do very well on the quiz.
    But it was very entertaining and a fun post to read.
    BTW, I think we've been getting your weather.
    Would you like it back?

  15. I suspected it wasn't "A" since even my wife doesn't have one.
    "C" and "D" looked to be a 50-50 chance of being correct.
    I picked "B"
    I know when to err in a woman's favor.

  16. Chigiy, I wouldn't claim the weather you've been having. No way, you can keep it!

    Wiseacre, You are a wise gardener!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  17. Carol, in answer to your question about the weather in Austin in April, that's easy. It will be pleasantly warm, sunny, and beautiful. Or cold and rainy. Or hot and humid.

    Who can say? However, we give you our best guess over at the Spring Fling site on our new weather page.

  18. I hate to admit I was born the year after the bicentennial - and in fact, I don't even know much about the bicentennial. I can only wish I had an extensive seed catalog collection. RLM makes me recycle them, which is good, because I order enough to take up a bookshelf. Weirdly enough, we even felt that warm spell up here in the north. There's still lots of snow and ice to go around for a while though.

  19. Pam/digging, That was very helpful advice on the weather. I am used to that, as that is how Indiana is in May.

    Gardenista, The bicennential was quite a celebration as I recall. I was a teenager at the time. Lots of fireworks. Yes, that was quite a warm front that pushed up through here.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens


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