The seed catalogs began to arrive with the winter solstice. Never mind the wind and cold, I’ll curl up with the seed catalogs and daydream about the 2013 garden.

Pick just one out of the pile. The Totally Tomatoes catalog is, well, 67 pages of tomato varietals – and a handful of peppers and other tomato-friendly vegetables. There’s the beautiful Rossa Sicilian, an Italian heirloom (duh) brought to the U.S. in 1987. It’s a striking bright red with ribbed walls. Smallish, though, just 6 ounces.

The Brandymaster, a spin off one of our favorites, the Brandywine, comes in three colors — pink, red or yellow. The red and yellow fruits grow up to one pound, exactly the kind of yield we adore. There are beautiful striped tomatoes – the Hillbilly, mottled red and yellow; Ananas Noire, green with red streaks.

Oh wow, the Giant Tree, with dark red tomatoes that grow one to two pounds each. Jumbotron tomatoes!

On the pepper front, there is a Count Dracula pepper, with black leaves and black fruits that ripen to blood red. With a Scoville rating of 25,000, these would be living on the edge of the pepper world. Or at least on the edge of our garden. See photo at right.03006-1

It could be I have a future writing content for these seed catalogs. The trick is to lure home-bound gardeners, in dead of winter, to buy your fare with purple prose. It works. We will circle items in a half-dozen catalogs, and haggle for days over which specific varietals to order.

Minute by minute, the days will grow longer and soon it will be time to turn the earth again.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.

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