The Dance of the Seed Catalogs

You’ll have to pardon my absence recently – after the craziness of Thanksgiving, I got sick for four days last week! Don’t worry, not food poisoning. But I was down for the count for a few days. What kept me going while I was sick though was the arrival of the first 2012 seed catalogs. Yep, it began early this year! The first one in my mailbox was the highly coveted Pinetree Garden Seeds. It’s my favorite by far – they’ve got a great mix of heirloom varieties and their prices are extremely affordable. I also like that they’re a small family-owned business. I’ve also received the Vermont Bean Seed catalog. I’m not really sure how I got on their mailing list, but I don’t mind. You can never have too many seed catalogs to browse through during the cold winter months.

Problem is, I don’t really need to buy any seed for 2012… I have a huge stockpile of great varieties already. And I plan to buy my tomatoes and hot peppers as starts from Midnight Sun in the spring. I just never get them started and going strong early enough. I still have to perfect my grow light set up one of these days so I can make it work. But until then, I’ve got good farmers who can get them set for me. Good thing to, since what’s a garden with tomatoes and hot peppers?

But even though I don’t plan on buying seed, I probably will end up getting a packet or two… I just can’t resist. I do have it in mind to try some dry beans this year – both Jacob’s Cattle and Vermont Cranberry are supposed to be excellent in soups and baked beans, and Jacob’s Cattle is a bush variety, with Vermont Cranberry being semi-bush. So I could likely get a plant or two going well in a large container. But I’ve got a lot of good seed for things I haven’t gotten to grow yet, including Lacinato kale and Envy soybeans (I just love edamame). I think this winter I need to draw up a proper seed starting and rotation schedule.

But the hardest part, aside from deciding what to grow and how to make the room to grow it? There are more catalogs still to come! I’m looking forward to getting Baker Creek and Seed Savers Exchange especially. I better set myself a $5.00 limit now…

Gearing Up For Seed Starting

I’m not the only one with a wicked case of spring fever. A few of my fellow bloggers are laying in plans for spring planting in this cold and blustery month too –

My Suburban Homestead is reviewing an LED indoor growlight for seed starting.

Not Dabbling in Normal is giving advice on ordering seeds.

Tiny Gardener is setting up a seed starting shelf.

Cottage Days & Journeys is showcasing some vintage seed catalog graphics.

Chickens in the Road is planning the garden from the first catalog of the season.

Homestead Revival is talking about 2011 garden goals.

So, I’m not the only one making grandiose plans in the depths of winter. The only problem is, I got another catalog today – Seed Savers Exchange! I am going to do my best to resist placing another order… but maybe just one or two packets wouldn’t hurt?

The Order Is In

That’s right – the most important order of the year has been placed – the seed order. I sat down earlier this week with my two favorite seed catalogs, my cigar box of seeds and my laptop. I assessed again how many containers I have, how many I plan to build or buy, and what each of them are for. I rifled through to my seed box to see what I still have from last year – which is most of what I want to plant this year, since I didn’t do a large planting last spring.

Once the decisions had been made, I hopped on over to the Pinetree Garden Seeds site and made my selections –

Rose Finn Apple Fingerling Potatoes – This is one of my favorite potatoes to eat. It’s got a pinkish-cream flesh and is tender and delicious. It’s got a thin skin, and needs only the merest hint of butter and salt to enhance it’s flavor. They will be grown in an enameled white trash can below the deck.

Compatto Dill – This is a smaller dill that is bred for containers – perfect for my limited space.

Alibi Cucumber – There is nothing better in the summer than a tangy cucumber salad alongside grilled chicken or kabobs. This plant is classified as a “miniature cucumber” and produces fruit that is 3-4 inches long at maturity.

Eightball Zucchini – Zucchini is one of those plants that can quickly get out of control and take over your garden – every gardener’s worst fear is baskets upon baskets of baseball bat sized zucchini. But zucchini is an essential element in true minestrone soup, and I do like zucchini bread from time to time, so I thought that Eightball would be a good fit into my garden plans – it’s a bushy plant and the fruits are single-serving sized.

Emerald Falls Dichondra – This is the first year I’ve really had any interest in growing non-veggie plants. I thought this would be perfect in our windowbox on the deck railing – planted in the front, it will be a vibrant green waterfall down the side of the railing, providing a bright shot of color with the wood and brick tones of the deck.

White Snapdragon and Red Snapdragon – Snapdragons have always been a favorite of mine. My Great Grandmother always had them growing in the flower beds around the house on the farm, in with the Bleeding Hearts and Hens & Chicks (also favorites – I don’t know whether she ever knew it, but Great Grandma was the one who instilled in me this love of “old-fashioned” flowers and of farm homestead life in general). These snapdragons grow 2.5-3 feet tall with bushy blooms. Honestly, I don’t have any idea where I’ll plant them yet, but I’ll squeeze them in somewhere. They were just too gorgeous to pass up.

Patriot Morning Glory – This is a mix of red, white and blue morning glories. Morning glories are another flower that harkens back to my childhood – when I was fairly little and we lived “just over the hill” from my Great Grandparent’s farm (in what turned out to be it’s last years as a working farm), morning glories were the flowers that grew up the fence in the barnyard. I would trot down the hill in the morning to go see Great Grandma at her house, lithely hop the fence into the barnyard and take a moment to breathe in the perfume of the early-morning blossoms – I recall that some were white, and some were dark blue – perhaps the Grandpa Ott’s variety, though I’ll never know for sure. Then I’d pet the yearling calf and skip over the board laid over a drainage ditch (which was a great sparkling brook to my tiny self), through the chicken yard (trying not to run, since that scared the chickens so they wouldn’t lay) and up to Great Grandma’s house. I can feel the rough, weather-worn grey board of the barnyard fence even today, and I’ll plant them along a fence in my own garden – it’s just where morning glories belong. Our back patio is up against a single family home’s back yard, which is surrounded by a nearly shoulder high wood fence. There is a thin strip of soil on our side, and that’s where the seeds will be planted. The yard, and the fence, are suffering from awful neglect, so I hardly think the homeowners will care about some flowers growing up one side.

Wee Be Little Pumpkin – This was the wild card purchase this year. I just love pumpkins. This variety is bushy and compact, so I’m going to try a couple in a large container. The pumpkins are 2.5 inches high by 2.5 inches wide, but look like tiny full-size pumpkins, and not the highly ribbed gourd-type miniature pumpkins.

I hope to have my seeds by early this week so I can chart all of them to figure out when I should start my seeds this year. Along with the seeds I already have, I hope to have a delicious, colorful garden this year.

Tis the Season – For Spring Planting?

In the ultimate spirit of holiday/season jumping,  I was pretty shocked yesterday to find the first 2011 seed catalog in the mail. I don’t ever remember seeing one before late January at the earliest. However, it just happens to be my favorite seed purveyor, Pinetree Garden Seeds so shock quickly made way for excitement. Christmas wish list updates? Yes, please!