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
Lettuce Blushed Butter Oak Kitchen Garden Seeds
Merlot, Batavian Kitchen Garden Seeds
Heatwave Blend Cooks
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
Brandy Boy 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
Siam Queen Kitazawa
Cilantro Calypso BurpeeParsley cellpacks