I TOLD THE PACKETS OF EAGER PEA SEEDS, usually my first-born, to sit tight: not their turn yet. But in a single flat filled with several smaller fiber pots, I just sowed two kale varieties and my earliest Brussels sprouts. And so another growing season begins, as I open the first of many just-arrived packets of seed, in this spring that doesn’t want seem to really arrive.
The snow that covered 99 percent of my place three days ago is now holding on to only 15 percent, thanks to a few warmer days and a crazy deluge. But the ground remains locked up tight, an inch of deceptive muck covering rock-solid frost.
For now the kale and Brussels sit on the kitchen counter, atop a heat mat and beneath a plastic dome. When those sprout, broccolis and parsley will go in my improv countertop germination chamber, and that first generation will move to a spot under lights.
My tradition about now each year on the website is to post my seed order, but this time I’m embarrassed at what it adds up to. I blame the endless winter, because in despair, as if it would help stave off the gloom, I binged. Some people eat; I shop for hope instead to soothe myself, in the form of packets of seeds.
There are some aspects of method to my madness:
- Last year I shared seed with a friend, aimed at using it up faster while it’s fresh, and we’ll split part of many packets again.
- I’m skipping potatoes for the first time in memory, to make room for more winter squash. Potatoes usually fill at least two of my 20-by-4-foot raised beds, which will be up for grabs.
- A longtime passion for chard with thick, white midribs (contrary to the fad for colorful, narrow ones) prompts me to compare several side-by-side this year (‘Silverado,’ ‘Fordhook Giant,’ and ‘Glatter Silber’). I don’t need all three, but I’m curious. Cheap thrills!
- Chard’s cousin, the beet root, will likewise be subjected to a little lineup. (I have leftover seed of three or four more here to add to the experiment.)
- Some of that former potato space will also go to a closer look at more salad things: a giant Italian heirloom oakleaf lettuce called ‘Italienischer;’ extra-dark red and highly textural lettuces such as ‘Merlot’ and ‘Hyper Red Rumple’ from Wild Garden’s lettuce-mad breeder Frank Morton; some extra kales grown for use as baby greens.
- And my recent seed-focused radio series introduced me to new friends whose specialties I had to try: beets from one, kales and winter squash form another, and so on.
Are you buying my excuses?
Alphabetically by seed company name (which you can click to visit their sites), what I confess to ordering so far:
- Kale Coalition
- ‘Morden Early’ cucumber
- Clary sage (Salvia sclarea)
- ‘Sugar Magnolia’ purple snap pea
- ‘Red Bull’ Brussels sprouts (retain their purple color after cooking)
- Plaza Latina Giant tomatillo
- ‘Doran Round’ Butternut squash
- ‘Tiger’ coreopsis
- ‘Oregon Homestead Sweet Meat’ winter squash
- ‘Fordhook Giant’ chard
- ‘Maxibel’ haricot vert bush bean
- ‘Fino Verde’ bush basil
- ‘Merlot’ lettuce
- Dino kale
- ‘Paul Robeson’ tomato
- ‘Red Russian’ kale
- ‘Sliverado’ chard
- ‘Sugar Daddy’ snap pea
- ‘Violina Rugosa’ Butternut squash
- Cardiospermum halicacabum (balloon vine), meant to be not just charming but also a beneficial-insect magnet
- ‘Nelson’ F1 Brussels sprouts
- ‘Corvair’ F1 smooth leaf spinach
- ‘Garden of Eden’ flat-pod pole beans
- ‘Verona’ tomato (the improved realtive of my longtime favorite, ‘Juliet’)
- Mrs. Burns’ lemon basil
- ‘Sugar Ann’ snap pea
- ‘Aunt Ada’s’ Italian pole bean
- ‘Provider Premium’ snap beans
- ‘Schweizer Riesen’ (‘Swiss Giant’) snow pea
- ‘Tromboncino’ winter squash
- ‘Butternut’ squash
- ‘Piracicaba’ broccoli
- Asian greens mix
- ‘Glatter Silber’ chard
- ‘Bull’s Blood’ beet
- ‘Feuer Kugel’ beet
- ‘Chioggia’ beet
- ‘Shiraz’ beet
- ‘Italienischer’ heirloom Italian oakleaf lettuce
- Spring salad mix
- Summer salad mix
- ‘Hyper Red Rumple’ waved lettuce
- ‘Splendid’ flat-leaf parsley