I PROMISED RESTRAINT, right here and out loud, and if all things are relative, I demonstrated at least a measure of that virtue. On the task of seed-ordering, I stayed focused and did well, or at least “well” for me. First, the disclaimers: It is typical for me to order 20 or more packets of pumpkin and squash seeds alone in any given year. There were no such binges in 2009, at least not so far (though I did order ‘Musquee de Provence,’ above). Give me ongoing strength.
Out of the 41 total items I purchased from four companies, 9 were not seeds at all: 2 were “hardware” or equipment (row covers and hoops); 4 were tubers or roots (3 kinds of potatoes and 1 of multiplier onions); 3 others were sweet potato varieties, sold as “slips.”
That nets out at 32 seed items, and 12 of those are collaborative—earmarked to share with a gardening friend. Am I cured? Doubtful. Am I a little bit more conscious? Perhaps.
Here’s what I’ll be growing in the vegetable garden in 2009, alongside the viable seeds for various lettuces, arugula, spinach, beans, chard and a few stray pumpkins I already have on hand. In reviewing my orders I see one tactical error: I forgot the snap type of peas, specifically my beloved no-staking ‘Sugar Ann.’ Oops.
I order those every other year, in half-pound size, and thought this was the “don’t need them” year. Wrong. Even the most careful following of the rules doesn’t yield perfection (as with all tasks in gardening).
- ‘Shanghai Green Choy’ Green stems to add more nutrients to the package.
- ‘Extra Dwarf Pak Choy’ So small, I couldn’t resist. Blame the “cute overload” phenomenon for this purchase. Perfect for sautéing.
- ‘Scarlet Runner’ bean. My bean-pole teepees never go a year without this hummingbird favorite, an heirloom. Eat the pods when about 6 inches.
- ‘Musquee de Provence’ pumpkin. I bought a 20-pounder at the farmers’ market, and it’s the most deeply lobed Cinderella-shape pumpkin I have ever seen.
- ‘Galeux d’Eysines’ pumpkin. Love this peach-colored beauty, warts and all.
- ‘Triamble’ (‘Shamrock’) winter squash. Blue skin and a three-part construction.
- ‘Nest Egg’ gourd. The gourd of all gourds. Looks like its name, and used years ago to fool hens into sitting on their nests. (Each year it takes all my energy not to order heirloom poultry from Sand Hill’s astonishing collection to go with the gourds.)
- ‘Jumbo Pink Banana’ squash. I’ve had them up to 35 pounds (they can get to 100, Sand Hill founder Glenn Drowns says), and these delicious squash last 12-16 months indoors with me, great dirigibles of coral color.
- ‘Trombone’ squash. If you like ‘Butternut,’ this is the oddshaped giant cousin of it, up to 40 pounds apiece.
- ‘Pumpkin Yam’ sweet potato slips. An heirloom with excellent yields.
- ‘Violetta’ sweet potato slips. Purple skinned heirloom, with ultra-sweet white flesh.
From Johnny’s Selected Seeds:
- ‘Sun Gold’ cherry tomato. Simply my favorite cherry, the color of a tangerine.
- ‘Brandywine’ tomato Everyone’s favorite heirloom, for good reason.
- ‘San Marzano 168’ paste tomato A big, long Italian paste variety, on indeterminate plants, now made even earlier to harvest.
- ‘Mariana’ paste tomato. A new variety featuring a small plant habit; I am trying this instead of ‘Roma VFN’ this year; pray for me.
- ‘Beauregard’ sweet potato slips. Johnny’s favorite for good yields in Northern climates.
- ‘Moskvich’ salad tomato. At just 60 days, early…and reportedly very flavorful. New to me, though an heirloom.
- ‘Napoli’ carrot (pelleted). If you haven’t traded up to pelleted seed for hard-to-sow things like carrots, I recommend it.
- ‘Delicata’ winter squash. The standard small winter squash I grow and bake for supper.
- ‘Natacha’ escarole. Desperately seeking an escarole I can sautee with garlic as they do in traditional Italian restaurants. Is this it?
- ‘Flash’ collard greens. Smooth leaves, slow to bolt, and offers repeat harvests.
- ‘Red Russian’ kale. I’ve been growing this beautiful purplish heirloom for what seems like ever.
- ‘Winterbor’ kale. A hybrid that’s said to be extra-prolific, regrowing for repeat cuttings.
- ‘Oliver’ Brussels sprouts. To grow in summer for a fall crop. I love to roast sprouts whole with olive oil and sea salt.
- ‘Garden of Eden’ pole bean. A flat-podded heirloom said to stay tender even when pods get big (like when I forget to pick daily, as always).
- ‘Dwarf Grey Sugar’ pea. A snow pea with distinctive reddish flowers and tinted foliage, easy to tell apart from other peas in the row.
- ‘Giant of Italy’ flat-leaf parsley. The only parsley I like for cooking and adding to salads.
- ‘Genovese’ basil. Traditional style Italian.
- ‘Italian Large Leaf’ basil (pelleted). Beautiful for Caprese salads and just for eating.
- ‘Benary’s Giant Lime’ zinnia. One of my three favorite colors of zinnias (above, from last year’s harvest), in single-color strains. Why grow the shades I don’t favor?
- ‘Benary’s Giant Orange’ zinnia.
- ‘Benary’s Giant Scarlet’ zinnia.
- ‘Queen Red Lime’ zinnia. A wild-colored newcomer with maroon outer petals and lime centers. How could I not try it?
- Hoop Loops to support row covers.
- Agribon+ AG-15 Insect Barrier–118 inches wide x 50 feet.
- Potato onions. I tried some of these supposedly perennial heirloom onions for fall planting, and will compare to a spring batch to see how to make these work in my cold area.
- ‘Stuttgarter’ onion sets. Semi-flat yellow onions.
- ‘Green Mountain’ potatoes. A great-flavored white heirloom potato, ideal for baking.
- ‘Yukon Gold’ potatoes. Dry-textured yellow flesh. I’m sure you know this one.
There, I’ve done it; confession complete. Anybody care to unburden themselves?