Before I pick up my first catalog, I review my past year. I am looking for places (plants) I can improve upon, items I didn't have enough of, things I wish I had grown (based on my current cooking and preserving).
This past year: most things did well. My first year at making salsa, left my family wanting even more. In fact, all the "hot" items I made and canned were family favorites and they have overwhelmingly asked for "more hot peppers." My canned mixed veggies were not, however, a hit and I will not be making them again. I, personally, like pickled beets so as a treat to myself, beets are added to the list.
After I make a preliminary assessment of what is needed for the next growing season, I then take an inventory of my current left-over seeds.
Seeds will keep for several years if kept dry and cool. I keep mine in a plastic "shoe box" with some desiccant packets (the kind you find in shoe boxes). This has served me well for years. Most times when I purchase seeds, I have more than I can use in any given growing season. Therefore, I have many packets I use year after year, only replacing them when they get low or after 3-4 years.
After all that is done, my list is made of what I need and I begin from there.
Why do I take all this time and planning? I am like a kid in a candy store when that first catalog is opened. I begin to circle item after item and end up with a list if items that I could never plant and take care of, let alone, afford. Doing these things helps to keep me "in check."
Now, true confession. In the process of writing this post, I jumped on the opportunity for "free shipping" from a company I purchase some of my seeds from. What do you think happened?