Friday, January 14, 2011

Sowing the Seeds of Spring

At the beginning of the year, I checked The Maritime Northwest Garden Guide and learned that onions, leeks, artichokes and lettuce seeds should be planted in January. This week the seed catalog started arriving, and last night, I stayed up dreaming about summer, circling the greens I wanted and making plans for our summer garden.

If grey days and winter storms make you long for summer too, why not check out these cool Northwest seed catalogs:

Osborne Seed Company (in Mount Vernon, WA)
Irish Eyes Garden Seeds (in Ellensburg, WA)
Wild Garden Seed (at Gathering Together Farm)
Peace Seedlings (in Corvallis, OR)
email to order a catalog: peaceseedlings@yahoo.com

I found Peace Seedlings when I went to the Corvallis farmers' market last summer. The woman at the booth told me she was buying the company from her dad who started the seed company in the 1970s. It was the first time I'd seen seed farmers at a market and I was intrigued. They came up almost right away, just like she'd said, but I must plant them earlier this year. But even with these beans, I'm not going to have a big garden. I'm paring back from last year's garden. The expense of watering and using organic amendments made it more costly than I'd ever imagined.

The main problem last year was we planted way too many tomatoes. By mid-August we had tons of green ones and then suddenly (like overnight) they got blight, turned black and died. When Tom broke the news, I'd wanted to throw in the trowel. It was ugly. Not as easy as Michelle Obama made it out to be.

This year I'll be more realistic about gardening. Confession number one: I don't like to dig in dirt. And I only want to grow easy things (who doesn't?)--like sugar snap peas and lots of greens. You might call me a fair weather gardener.

For sure I'll order India Red Giant mustard greens and Red Russian Kale seed from the Osborne Seed Catalog partly because lots of farmers have told me they swear by seeds from Osborne so I can't wait to to try them. I have lots of seeds left from last year, so we'll use those first and hopefully they're still good.
Of course we'll have raspberries because they're so easy. Once raspberries are established they just come up, but the blueberries I'd planted last year look like sticks. Are they still alive? At the end of the summer, they'd looked fragile, and the freeze we experienced recently probably did them in. But the raspberry canes we got from our friends just a few years ago came back last year with more berries, and my Cooking Assistant swears juicy homegrown raspberries can't be beat on a hot summer day. How's that for a winter dream?
This year I plan to keep it simple--lettuce, braising greens, raspberries, then maybe we'll graduate to more complicated gardens.

Just one more thing I'm doing for the garden this year--more edible flowers. I love these pretty violas and they taste fantastic and are super easy to grow. Plus they attract bees, they're oh so trendy and cool in summer salad mixes at the markets. So what's on your garden list? Haven't decided yet? Check out those catalogs.

2 comments:

Joan said...

oohhhh fun, new local seed companies to discover! Thanks

ddzeller said...

It's such fun hunting for new varieties of things to grow!