Okay, it's done. I've placed orders with seven (!) different catalogs for seeds, fruit trees, seed potatoes, asparagus roots, berry canes, and some milky spore to try to fight off the annual plague of Japanese beetles. This year we ordered from two divisions of Fedco, Seed Savers Exchange, Seeds of Change, The Maine Potato Lady, Miller Nurseries, and Arbico. I handled group orders for all of these catalogs, so that we share shipping costs and qualify for certain bulk purchasing discounts. In a few cases we are also splitting seed packets between two families. Honestly, what home gardener really needs 250 lettuce seeds of a single variety?
Wherever possible I chose organic, heirloom varieties. I also ordered several things this year with a view towards season extension using a minimum of construction. We're not going to have a greenhouse this year, nor probably next. If we're diligent we'll have a few proper coldframes built by the fall. But there are plants I can work with which can naturally provide a longer season of fresh eating straight from our garden. So here's the rundown of what I ordered, followed by a few things that I will be planting from older seeds.
N=new variety this year, N!=entirely new vegetable crop this year, i.e. I've never successfully grown any plant of this type before, L=grown last year or in previous years
Trees & Rootstock
2 Dana Hovey pears N!
1 Mesabi cherry N!
1 Stella cherry N!
2 All-American Paw Paws N!
3 Allen black raspberry N
1 Adams elderberry N!
1 Johns elderberry N!
2.5# German Butterball N
2.5# La Ratte L
2.5# Kennebec L
2.5# Sangre L
25 Jersey Supreme plants N!
Dried bean, Cherokee Trail of Tears L
Dried bean, Hutterite Soup N
Beets, Cylindra N
Beets, Detroit Red L
Brussels sprouts, Roodnerf N!
Carrots, Red-Cored Chantenay N!
Swiss chard, Five Color Silverbeet N
Chili pepper, Poblano/Ancho L
Eggplant, Pingtung Long N!
Eggplant, Listada de Gandia N!
Leeks, Blue Solaize L
Lettuce, Red Velvet N
Lettuce, Bronze Arrowhead N
Lettuce, Slobolt L
Lettuce, Rouge d'Hiver L
Melon, Charantais N
Okra, Red Burgundy N!
Onion, Clear Dawn N
Parsnips, Turga N
Shallots, Prisma N
Spinach, Space N!
Stinging nettles N!
Tomato, Brandywine (beefsteak) L
Tomato, Cherokee Purple (beefsteak) L
Tomato, Peacevine (cherry) L
Tomato, Speckled Roman (paste) N
Winter squash, Hokkaido Stella Blue N
Seed from last year
Basil, Purple Ruffles
Garlic, 6 different varieties
Kale Lacinato, aka Dinosaur or Tuscan
Sunflower, Evening Sun & Mammoth Grey Stripe
Watermelon, Moon & Stars
The garden also includes the perennial culinary herbs sage, thyme, oregano, and chives.
A few things of note about this year's garden plan. We are including three plants that we have never eaten on a regular basis before, and which we're not even entirely sure we're going to like. Brussels sprouts, stinging nettle, and okra are all new to our garden and relative strangers to our palates. We've enjoyed a European cheese with nettles in it before. These perennial nettles also come up very early in the spring, so I'm counting them among our earliest crops for the spring season for next year. They're incredibly nutritious and are also widely used to treat allergies in homeopathic medicine. I plan to make some pasta or gnocchi with them if we get a decent crop.
Brussels sprouts and okra fall into the category of things we're willing to try out, both in terms of how well we like to eat them, and how well they grow for us in our garden. I'm counting on the advantage of eating these foods in a state of absolute freshness. I've heard that both foods suffer significantly from sitting around too long after picking. Brussels sprouts will fall at the other end of my season extension plan. I'm going to try timing them so that I don't pick any until they've been through a good frost or two.
Well, when it was all toted up, we've spent a whopping $250 to mail order fruit trees, berry canes, asparagus starts, seed potatoes, and garden seeds. And that's with some bulk prices and discounts on shipping because of the group order! This (to me) is a lot of money. The trees, berry canes, and asparagus starts account for almost half the total cost. All of these are of course long term investments that I'm sure will repay the cost many times over in the coming years. I'm going to make an effort to save seed potatoes this fall as I did with the garlic. Seed potatoes are surprisingly expensive (~$30 for 10 lbs). It would make me feel much better if I could simply set aside some of this year's harvest as planting stock for next year. In our climate zone that may be difficult, but I'm going to try. For the rest, I'm going to be better about storing my seeds to preserve their viability, so that I will need to order very little for next year's garden.
If nature smiles and gives me good harvests, we should buy very little in the way of fruits or vegetables this year. We'll eat what we grow and be well satisfied with it, but for my husband's addiction to bananas. We're still eating produce we harvested over the summer out of our chest freezer. Let's hope it's a good gardening year for everyone in 2009!
What's in your garden lineup for this year?
026 Riding a Bike in Los Angeles with Colin Bogart
19 hours ago