Sunday, February 10, 2008

Time to Buy Vegetable Seeds

I'm perusing my garden catalogs today, seriously picking out seeds to plant this year. I've glanced through them before now, but with it being about 3f degrees outside with a wind chill of -31f, I really feel the need to look at pictures of GREEN things today! So now that I've taken the dogs for a walk (nutty Luna wanted to stay outside and catch more Frisbees!) and they are comfortably snoozing downstairs, I can sit back, peruse to my heart's content, and sit back in my loft writing this little blog update.

So far I've selected 2 cherry tomatoes, one I've grown every year for at least 20, except for last year when I discovered the "Sweet Million" packet I'd saved from 2006 was EMPTY! Those have been the best, most reliable little cherry tomatoes I've ever grown, worthy of being popped into your mouth right off the vine. I'm adding a smaller cherry this year called "Red Currant", supposedly finger tip sized, and probably will order some more of the heirloom "Yellow Pear" unless it turns out I still have seeds from last year. The only non-cherry tomato I am getting is called "Tip Top", claimed to be a 3 oz, thick walled tomato good for salads and sauces. I've got plenty of other varieties of tomato seeds left over from previous years, but am not planning on growing any of them. I don't have a lot of space and there's an excellent small farm/garden selling tomatoes only a 10 mile drive from here. In case anyone is interested in these varieties I am growing, I'm ordering from Pinetree Garden Seeds in Maine.

I'm growing a couple hills of small pickling cucumbers and one slicing cuke "Diva" which I have found to be my favorite of all I've grown over the years. Mainly though I'll be getting a half bushel of smallish cukes from that same farmer. I made excellent pickles with them last summer.

Snow peas I must also have, they are too expensive in the stores and taste so good sauteed with butter, salt and pepper. Those would be "Carouby de Maussane" and probably "Oregon Sugar Pod II" which I can just buy locally. Now if only I could figure out how to freeze them successfully.

Green bean varieties are "Masai" and "Jade". Excellent, long lasting, tasty beans. I tried "Tendergreen" but found them to become overlarge too quickly and turn bitter. I finally let the plants just go to seed and saved the dried beans just to see if they are viable. Assuming they're a hybrid it's probable won't breed true.

Because I am growing fewer regular sized tomatoes and cucumbers this year, I'll have a little extra room and am planning on beets which are good pickled (the only way I can stand eating them) and if I get a bumper crop, I'm going to let my husband try making beet wine. I've read about it, my neighbor has done it years ago and my husband enjoyed making wine out of elderberries and pear peelings last year. Why not find another use for beets, if possible? Plus the leaves could go in salads or make tasty tidbits for my ducks.

I am also thinking about trying watermelons again. Not the big red ones, but a smallish yellow one called "Pony Yellow" that is supposed to grow in 75 days. I don't know if it's really possible here in Zone 4, I've never had good luck with any kind of watermelon even when I lived in Zones 6 and 10. Technically, I can't really grow them within my actual fenced garden, it's only 12 x 12 feet square with a small outer ring with a 2' high fence for extra plants not bothered so much by deer. Where would I put it that would be protected from deer? I may talk myself out of this before then end of this post!

But I'm getting a little long winded anyway and I still haven't looked at the flower section. Generally, I've already got plenty, I prefer perennials, but they might have something interesting. For example I grew hollyhocks for the first time this past year and am very happy with them. Perhaps, they'll have another variety.

In the meantime, I have to amuse myself with catalogs because this is what my vegetable garden currently looks like. It will be April before most of the snow is gone and even then it will be too cold to plant. I tried some early veggies last year but between the cold and excess rain nothing sprouted. Good thing I have a planting area set up in my basement laundry room. I can start planting seeds at the end of March. Only six weeks to go!

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