Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Catalogue after Catalogue, Packet after Packet, Possibility after Possibility….

Sorry not to have posted another blog recently, but I was determined to blog AFTER I had finished my initial seed and vegetable plant choices of the year, and given the sheer number of seed catalogues I received this winter, it was a long process. A totally wonderful and exciting process, but a bit arduous as well. And I know I have only scratched the surface when it comes to seed companies! The range of possibilities has increased exponentially over the past 10 years, not only in the number of types of flowers and vegetables one can grow and the greater number of varieties for specific needs and demands, but also in the very way they are grown, harvested, and packages. Truly amazing.

The very difficult limitation I have to deal with throughout the process of choice is space. We currently only have a 10’x20’ plot in an urban community garden – this is bigger than many plots in other community gardens in Brooklyn (we are very lucky to have gotten a plot where we are), but it is still very small to grow a lot of things. So, reality check! I have a small little border where last year I grew some cutting flowers – zinnias, dahlias, cosmos, and snapdragons – but I really have to keep this to a minimum in order to grow the vegetables that my partner Daniel and I enjoy growing and eating.  So, I break my heart drooling over all those potential flowers I could grow from seed, but just can’t have.

Then, I have to really justify what I grow, and how much of it I grow. The tough decision this year is to forego potatoes, which I love to eat and really enjoy growing. I just can’t give over the space to them, unless, in the end, I just can’t do without and I grow them in some of these new potato bags over at a friend’s house. I’ve done it, but…more on that for another blog! Same goes for corn, lots of lovely winter squash, and what I really yearn for, raspberries and strawberries. I also don’t bother with things like beets and carrots, which are easily gotten at the farmers market and which they can grow better than I.

What is left is things that I feel taste so much better fresh off the plot, things that are very productive over a long period of time, and particular varieties I love – tomatoes, zucchini, French beans, lettuce and other salad greens. And herbs! I am way too cheap to buy bunch after bunch of things like parsley, cilantro, and basil at several dollars a pop when they grow so easily at the allotment. Finally, I always grow some things just for the fun – a few, seeing how they do and how they taste!

The final list is posted below (or at least the list for now, until I encounter something else I can’t resist!)…..

One thing I did note on the list is where I am ordering things – more on the companies I like and why in a few days. But I also noted seed that I had from last year. Always the first thing I do, before I even allow myself to start looking at the catalogues, is to go through my leftovers and make a list of what I have. I store my leftover seed in a tin box in the ‘frig – I figure this allows for the darkness and the consistent cooler temps and humidity that my gardening mentors recommend. I have to say, I am a bit of wimp when it comes to being brave about viability. A part of me would just like to order a new packet and not worry about the opened ones. But so often I only sow a few seeds from a packet (I mean, how many zucchini or sunflower seeds can one really sow in order to get the 3-4 ones needs for a small plot?) and it is a horrible waste. I am trying to trust the experts when they say that most seed will last about 3-4 years, barring things like corn, onion and parsley. That being said, I didn’t have as much left as I thought I would, so I will need to buy more. For a good blog post about seed storing and viability, check out http://dirthappy.blogspot.com/2010/02/seed-viability-table.html

The other thing I noted were vegetables that I would buy as cellpacks, modules or potted-on transplants. Since I don’t have a lot of windowsill space to start things inside very early and grow them on, if I can buy the vegetable and the variety I want as a plant, I tend to choose that option. Tomatoes, herbs, and peppers for instance – Marion Gardens, a grower on the East End of Long Island, grows a fantastic assortment of beautiful plants, and organically to boot. How can I go wrong?

More later on favorite seed companies and why I chose certain varieties!


Beans, French pole             Emerite                         Kitchen Garden Seeds
Broccoli Rabe                    Cima di Rapa                 Kitchen Garden Seeds
Cabbage                             Savoy Express               have
Chard                                 Ruby or Bright Lights   cellpacks
Eggplants                           Ichiban                          transplants
                                           Purple Rain                   transplants
Fennel                                Fino                               Kitchen Garden Seeds
Kale                                   Tuscan Lacinato            have
Komatsuna                        Green Boy                      have
       Natsu Rakuten or           Kitazawa
       Summer Fest
Lettuce                               Blushed Butter Oak        Kitchen Garden Seeds
       Tintin                              have
       Ashley                            Cooks
       Merlot, Batavian            Kitchen Garden Seeds
       Heatwave Blend             Cooks
       Forellenschuss                cellpacks
       Assorted spring lettuce   cellpacks
Mache                                Verte de Cambrai,            have
Mesclun                             Festive Mix                      Cooks
       Provencal Mix                 Cooks
Mizuna                               Red Streak                       have
Pak choi                              Mei Qing Choi                have
       Toy Choy                         Kitazawa
Peas, Snow                         Snowbird                         Burpee
Peppers, chile -                                                           transplants
Radishes                             Gourmet Rainbow           Kitchen Garden Seeds
Summer squash                  Ronde de Nice                 High Mowing
Tomatoes                            Juliet                                Kitchen Garden Seeds
       Sungold                            transplant
       Brandy Boy                      transplant
       Tie-Dye                            transplant
       Early Girl                         transplant
       Cherokee Purple              transplant
       Carmello                          Kitchen Garden Seeds
Turnip                                 Hakurei                           have
Winter squash                    Honey Nut                       High Mowing
       Sweet Dumpling             Kitchen Garden Seeds
Zucchini                             Spacemiser,                     have


Arugula                              Runaway                         Kitchen Garden Seeds
Basil                                   Italian                              cellpacks
       Lemon                              have
       Pistou                               Cooks
       Siam Queen                     Kitazawa
Cilantro                              Calypso                           Burpee
Parsley                                                                                 cellpacks

No comments:

Post a Comment