Monday, January 28, 2008

Seed Order

So last night, I placed my order for seeds. I’m sure I got too much, violating the “think small, and start smaller” principle. I want diversity, though – turnips alone is not going to cut it. I ordered from Fedco. I like their co-opness (co-opisity? Co-opism? Co-opship?) and their variety of heirloom varieties. Even nicer is that they’re in Maine, so they understand northern climates and will usually warn people if something won’t finish before the season ends. Also, although the catalog descriptions are upbeat, they do note negative characteristics – tomatoes that crack, spinach that bolts early, potatoes that give it up at the first sign of beetles.

I didn’t order near as much as I wanted to order. I wanted pretty much the whole damn catalog. And most of Kitazawa’s catalog. (I refrained from ordering from them before I really knew what I wanted for Korean cooking, but I would love to do a Korean corner next year, with the stuff for kimchi, veggies for banchan, and those little 1-serving melons.)

Windsor Fava Beans – called broad beans in Britain. These I got because of a newly awakened crush on British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, and his totally cool gardener. Broad beans aren’t given much attention or space in American catalogs and gardens, but according to the Brits, the tender tops are edible. Also, I think I’ve been conflating fava beans with lima beans. I have a terrible aversion to limas, but they’re not really the same thing at all.

Vermont Cranberry Beans – for eating dry. I like the idea of dry beans. I’m used to pintos, but I’m having trouble finding them in northern catalogs, and suspect they need a long hot summer. If this goes well, I want to try a black bean next summer.

Golden Bantam Yellow Sweet Corn – an heirloom, open-pollinated sweet corn. I keep hearing that sweet corn is not sweet corn unless it’s picked from the garden and rushed inside to be boiled, salted, and eaten. I’ve never done this, so I don’t know. Seems like time to find out, doesn’t it? Also, I want to experiment with growing beans up the corn stalks.

Mammoth Melting Sugar Snow Pea – In general, I try to avoid descriptors like “mammoth” in my variety names. Size is not really what I’m looking for. But Mammoth is supposed to be prolific, easy, and sweet. And I never get enough snow peas.

Jenny Lind Muskmelon – small, heirloom muskmelon (green, not orange like cantelope). I love good melons. Bad melons are awful, but a perfectly ripe sweet juicy melon on the porch in July (or August) is heaven. I’m not really in prime melon territory – you need to be farther south for that. But that’s not going to stop me trying. I like that these are serving-size melons, small enough to carry away and eat alone.

Sweet Meat Winter Squash – a blue-grey, hubbard-style winter squash that keeps well. The squash tend to be big (8-10+ lbs), but a good compromise between taste and storage (supposedly – I’ve never eaten one). And they’re blue.

Harris Model Parsnip – I’m going to put myself out there and say: I love, love, love parsnips. Roasted. In soup. Baked. And, uh, raw, when they have a sort of licorice-y, tweaky tang that is low-calorie goodness. I’m guessing my soil is not going to be the deeply aerated, organic mattered loam necessary for prime production, but how can I not try?

White Wing Onion – Onions are something I feel okay buying – I love them, but they’re cheap, and the seed goes away eventually. These I got because I pushed a wrong button on the order form. Oh, well.

Des Vertus Savoy Cabbage – Gene Logsdon swears by savoy-type cabbage. I like cabbage fine – it’s not my first-choice veggie, but it’s good – and savoy-type cabbage cost an arm and a leg in market if you find them. Des Vertus is not special, except it’s open pollinated.

Hon Tsai Tai – if this is the vegetable I think it is, it’s a favorite from Korea (it’s not advertised as that, but many, many vegetables come from and go to China and Japan, so it’s not outrageous to expect some carry-over.) Slightly bitter, but fantastic in stir-fries.

Green Wave Mustard – part of my ongoing quest to eat more leafy green things. Also, mustard is pretty tasty.

Curly Garden Cress – love watercress, but don’t love how quickly it goes bad. This is supposed to be a good substitute from the same family. May grow indoors, with the rest of my herbs, and eat the baby leaves.

Turkish Orange Eggplant – I like it when vegetables are small. These eggplants are supposed to be about egg-sized, and used in stir-fried while young and green. They turn orange when mature. Also, the seed was cheap.

Thai Hot Pepper – I eyed these plants at the market all last year. Small bushes bear loads (no, really, loads) of tiny, brightly colored peppers that are quite decently hot, and can be harvested at almost any stage. I like them red, but I like spicy food. The plants are very pretty, and the peppers are pretty good. The flavor is not as excellent as some peppers, but the size, convenience, and heat makes a good case for them.

Zefa Fino Fennel – another variety courtesy of Jamie Oliver. I’ve had fennel seeds, but can’t remember having fennel root. An experiment, since I don’t think it’ll do well, but Fedco didn’t warn northern gardeners against it, so worth the 90 cents to plant a few. Highly recommended by several catalogs.

Red Shiso – I really wanted Korean shiso (tulkae). This is Japanese shiso, and tastes quite different to me, but I’m not placing a separate order for one plant. It’s a relative of mint, so it’s supposed to spread readily. It’s fantastic in stir-fry, raw, on meat, with tofu.

Copperhead Amaranth – My “feed the birds” project, and an experiment. Amaranth is one of those old, old grains, native to this part of the country (not in the woods – maybe in the prairie?) It’s got good essential amino acids, and doesn’t need to be hulled. I probably won’t eat very much, if any, but I would like to offer the seeds to the bird population next winter.

Herbs – mostly for growing inside, but I’ll probably start a few outside too, for the variety and fun of it. Sweet basil, thai basil, garlic chives, lavender, lemon balm, sweet marjoram, mint, rosemary, broadleaf sage, German thyme

Solar Flashback Calendula Mix – I haven’t been a huge fan of marigolds, but these are pot marigolds, which of course in the world of gardening is something completely different. Bright, easy to grow, and supposedly pest discouraging, I’m growing these simply because I like the gold and orange flowers.

Tall Climbing Nasturtiums – The plan is to let these climb the sunflowers. I’m such a fan of climbing plants, it’s not even funny. I just like them. Also, I like the idea of eating flowers. And they’re pretty. My neighbor’s nasturtiums did really well last year – not quite morning glory well, but smother-the-tomatoes well.

Black Peony Poppies – fluffy balls of gorgeous rich maroon-black color. Real peonies are expensive perennials, so these are sort of the annual version of “hey, I like this shape – how does it look in the garden?”. Will be planted behind the calendulas. I wish I had the hollyhocks of the same color, but the seed-buying has to stop somewhere this year. Also want California poppies, but I’ve heard that they choke in heavy soil.

Autumn Beauty Mix Sunflowers – Tall, multi-stemmed sunflowers for the flower-patch and bird-feeding attempts. Yellow to gold to red to maroon.

Wildflower Mix – the bulk of the flower patch, augmented by more poppies, sunflowers, nasturtiums, and calendulas. Dame’s rocket, shirley poppies, black-eyed susans, blazing stars (which look an awful lot like gayfeather), bachelor’s buttons.

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