Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dreaming Gardens from Seeds

Photo from Jim Linwood's photostream

Yes, it's that time of the year... the mailbox stuffed with seed catalogs! It used to happen in January, and even as late as early February, but now it seems the seed companies are all trying to get their catalogs out sooner, perhaps hoping to be the first available for orders.

What is nicer on a snowy, blustery winter day than paging through seed catalogs and dreaming of a luscious, bountiful garden coming soon?

This year I am looking closely at several factors in choosing seeds. I want to continue to increase the heirloom and open pollinated vegetables in my garden so I can save more of my own seeds. I do NOT want any GMO seeds... no Chernobyl giants in my garden! I  want to buy from seed suppliers who adopt the Safe Seed Pledge which says:

"Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further asses the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately people and communities."

'Bright Lights' Chard Photo by permission from Fishon4lb

Who can resist glowing descriptions like "A beautiful chard, its colors are brilliant pink, yellow, orange, red and white... Pretty enough to plant in the flower garden, and so delicious, one of our favorite greens!" (Baker Creek's Silverbeet Chard aka 'Bright Lights', as seen above)

My seed lists always start out too long because I succumb to the tantalizing photos and delicious details of vegetables I'd like to try. I end up ordering more seeds that I can plant or manage in my garden, so this year I'm trying to be more realistic. Tomatoes have been a bust for the last 2 years, thanks to blight and stink bug infestations. Still, I will plant a few heirloom tomatoes. 

Burpee Long Keeper Tomatoes

In my pantry, I currently have 3 small tomatoes ripening, from a volunteer I missed hidden in the winter squash leaves in October. They are Burpee Long Keeper and while not a truly tasty tomato, I like that they ripen indoors starting about December, and anything is better than the red tennis balls from the supermarkets. I may plant another 2-3 of them next year from saved seed. I haven't decided what other heirloom tomatoes I will try this coming year.

Other "new to my garden" vegetables on my list are Belgian endive, bulbing fennel, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets and carrots... and I haven't selected any varieties of those yet either. I haven't grown many root vegetables before now because my soil was so compacted. The leeks, shallots and garlic I grow survived only because they do not need to penetrate deeply into the ground. Now with 3-4 years of adding compost and other amendments, I'm hoping for a little bit of success with more root veggies.

What are you dreaming for your garden?


  1. Many of those root vegetables will push out of the ground anyway, seems to be their natural way of growing. The beets & rutabaga for sure: I grew mind this year in a raised bed w/loose soil & they still were only about 1/2 in the dirt. I just mulched w/straw.

    I'm eliminating some things from my garden this year... we don't really like 'em or they take too much work for the amount of food produced. Parsnips in the first category, spinach in the second. Chard grows so well & I can't tell the difference in recipes.

    I sure hope this is a good tomato year here... we're about out of canned 'mater stuff.

    Still waiting for my Baker catalogue... {{grumble}}

  2. I hadn't considered how much those veggies actually DO push up out of the ground. Thanks!


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