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Posts Tagged ‘seed catalogs’

Day #2 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. The task: write a list post. I just did that yesterday, in fact I did it on both my blogs. But I feel like I should do it with conscious intent, after reading the tips and instructions, so here comes another one! I’ve had this one waiting in my mental queue for a while anyway.

My assortment of seeds (these are just the edibles) - to me this represents true wealth!

My assortment of seeds (these are just the edibles) - to me this represents true wealth!

A few weeks ago (in January to be precise), some colleagues and I got together and ordered seeds from several catalogs together, thinking we’d share them and save some money. While shelling out $60 bucks for seeds didn’t feel like saving to me, that’s just my eyes being WAY bigger than my stomach. Or than my raised beds. The process was lots of fun, the comeraderie was great, and we all have some great seeds to experiment with this year! Next up: summer potluck and fall harvest party…

So here’s a summary of what I managed to dish out so much money on.

The sources:

  • Seeds of Change (their seeds come in nifty re-usable environmentally friendly plastic packets)
  • Seed Savers Exchange (a most wonderful non-profit in Iowa with fabulous educational programs and a very virtuous mission)
  • The Cook’s Garden (the most expensive by quite a bit, but also had a few of the fun lettuces and other rare items that others didn’t)
  • Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company (by far the best deals, seed packets were only around $2 for most varieties; the catalog was a blast to look at with giant color photos and truly quirky characters scattered throughout. This one was a favorite!!)

The seeds (perhaps I shall number them, just to see how out of hand things got with the ordering):

  1. Chioggia beets
  2. Helios radish
  3. Minnesota Midget melon
  4. Blacktail Mountain watermelon
  5. Purple tomatillo
  6. Giant of Italy parsley
  7. Genovese basil
  8. Broad Windsor fava bean
  9. October bean (a gorgeous native bean from Seed Savers, white with PINK slashes and spots)
  10. Hidatsa Shield Figure bean (another stunning heirloom; half white, half tan with dark brown flecks)
  11. Parisian bush bean
  12. Winter Luxury pie pumpkin
  13. Squash Galeaux d’Eysines (a gorgeous peach-colored pumpkin shape covered in thick light brown warts)
  14. Squash Pomme d’Or (another winter squash)
  15. European Mesclun Salad mix
  16. Merlo Nero spinach
  17. Bloomsdale Long Standing spinach
  18. Rouge D’Hiver lettuce
  19. Speckled lettuce
  20. Merveille de Quatre Saisons lettuce
  21. Sugar snap peas
  22. Sherwood leeks
  23. Summer squash: Cocozelle di Napoli
  24. Zucchini: Lungo Bianco
  25. Jewel peach melba nasturtium
  26. Red Marietta marigold
  27. Broccoli Raab
  28. Early Purple Sprouting broccoli
  29. Lacinato kale
  30. Russian Red kale
  31. Nantes Little Finger carrot
  32. True Gold sweet corn

I guess 32 seed packets, even if you are splitting some of them two or three ways, can’t help but add up to $60+… But here’s the kicker: that’s just the new seeds. Anything I had from last year or the year before I kept and am hoping to reuse as well. I’m learning the hard way, right now, that green onion seeds don’t keep. However, spinach seeds from 2007 are sprouting just fine, as are others (chard, radishes). So here is what I STILL HAVE in my collection; I tossed anything that was more than 2 years old:

  • Cherry Belle radish
  • Daikon radish (bought last year and never planted)
  • Sugar baby watermelon (planted last year, nothing happened; trying an heirlom variety this year, see list above)
  • Tomatillo (bought but never planted, got starts instead)
  • Cilantro
  • Acorn squash: Table King
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Butternut squash (didn’t go last year either, but I’m too much of a sucker to toss the seeds; must try again)
  • Melody spinach
  • Mesclun mix
  • Mache
  • Mizuna (bought last year, planted for the first time this year)
  • Lettuce: Paris Island Cos
  • Lettuce: Buttercrunch
  • Alaska peas
  • Edamame (bought last year, never planted)
  • Green onions (Evergreen bunching)
  • Squash: early yellow straightneck
  • Hybrid Ambassador zucchini
  • Italian Striped zucchini
  • Squash: Early white bush scallop
  • Vanilla Ice sunflower
  • Red Sun sunflower
  • Lemon gem marigold
  • Collard greens
  • Long Island Improved Brussel sprouts
  • Cosmic Purple carrot
  • Cucumber: Tasty green burpless
  • Rainbow Swiss Chard (bought last year to replenish my dwindling stock of this favorite plant; heaven forbid I should actually run out of a packet and not have a backup already on hand!)
  • Bok Choy (bought last year but never planted)

Notice I did NOT number those, because I don’t want to know. A lot of these are duplicates – seeds for which I bought replacements before I ran out of the first packet – or veggies I tried two years ago but didn’t do last year, and still haven’t had the heart to toss. A lot of them were stars in the garden last year, I just didn’t use up the packet and I can’t wait to use the rest of the seeds this year.  (in that category the notables are collards, cucumbers, chard, and all the lettuces).

How do I organize all of these vast quantities of seeds? (never mind where I will plant them all – I’ll try to illustrate that somehow in another post). I keep them in a bamboo drawer organizer that was intended for sorting silverware. Each narrow compartment is perfect for standing several seed packets upright in, in little groups next to each other, so the whole entity looks like fairly neat little rows that I can easily flip through to find what I want. Geek that I am, I have organized them by plant family (brassicas, legumes, etc) – sort of – with the flowers all in one stack and the herbs all in another.

This terrible cameraphone shot shows the compartments a little better...

This terrible cameraphone shot shows the compartments a little better...

I was going to get into what I’ve already planted out into the garden and what’s in a seed tray getting moved back and forth from garden (day) to house (night) but it seems I’ve written a pretty long post already. I’ll stop here, and continue that thought another day!

I love making lists. I love that making lists is an acceptable way to blog, and not just some kind of laziness…

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Spring is in the air – albeit intermittently. We are still getting snow every other day it seems, just when things were warming up tantalizingly and drawing us outside to bask in the increasingly warmer sunlight. Various bulbs are poking their green shoots into the air. I can’t remember what I planted or where; this is the fun of bulbs, it’s a little like Christmas for yourself every spring when they come up. Were those tulips? Maybe the red ones? Did I plant red ones? And so the wonderful mysteries of the garden begin to unfold, reminding you why you are so hooked on the warmer seasons.

My compost pile is still a giant ice cube, so I have to content myself with dumping kitchen scraps on top of it. But today I am itching to start cutting back the winter’s yellowed grasses – Miscanthus, Little Bluestem, Nassella and others. There’s just going to be too much other work to do in the garden later; I feel compelled to get these easier, little tasks out of the way now, even though it means I am removing the one bit of structure from our winter landscape. And it’s supposed to snow tonight, so today is my chance, really, to enjoy a few minutes of sunshine and work outdoors.

This weather is also making me yearn for my vegetable garden. I can content myself for now with planning it, which I’ve miraculously put off all winter – what with holidays, vacations and health worries, I never really sat down to dream about vegetables. I didn’t order any rare or curious seeds from heirloom plant catalogs; we have so much variety right here during spring planting season that last year I’d filled my garden right up with Minnesota Midget Canteloupe, Hopi Beans, Cherokee Purple Tomatoes and Tequila Sunrise Peppers and there was no more room for mail-order wonders. So I figured this year I’d just do the same thing and see what sort of bounty it brought me.

In honor of the spring kitchen garden, I want to remind everyone of the 10 Reasons to Eat Local Food (the article is titled 10 Reasons to BUY Local Food, but for me so much is about growing a large portion of it yourself that I can’t limit myself to that outlook!). These pointers, in and of themselves, are inspiration enough to make our green thumbs itch with anticipation!!

Happy Gardening…

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