Monday, February 9, 2009

The Garden Begins!

Things are feeling pretty good around here right now.

Inexplicably, it got up to the lower 50's today! (!?) Traditionally, February is an ugly, sloppy mess around here, and comes with its fair share of snow. So, while today was a bit wet, the sunshine, warm temperature, and increasing hours of daylight have been just what we needed to be pushing full speed ahead into spring. (Chomping at the bit is more like it!)

The wheels upstairs are also moving on the garden. Very soon I'll be starting some seeds in the basement. I just placed my order and thought I had to share, in the hopes that all goes well and I will soon be sharing you recipes with my beautiful vegetables, or at least interesting sob stories.

Dad is helping me work out the growing setup, which we plan to do in the little makeshift root cellar under the stairs, so I've been working on what exactly we feel like growing. I am starting as much as I can from seed soon, to get a jump on the season, and to try some heirlooms that aren't available as seedlings very readily or cheaply. I had to decide what things I want to grow myself (i.e. what we'll eat the most of) and what things to count on getting from Farmer's Market. Some of this has already been decided for me. Like garlic, for example. We eat it until it comes out of our ears, but won't be growing it this year, as it has to be planted in September. Also, asparagus. I'll be getting some roots for it now, but they take at least two years before they produce, sometimes three.

I ordered most of my seeds from the fantastic amazing super duper Seed Saver's Exchange. If you haven't heard about them yet, know that Lynne Rosetto Kasper was the keynote at their last convention. And they're in Decorah. I will have to make a trip there this spring, but for now I'm just handing them a bit money in support of the great work they do. (Photos from

I had planned to order a good variety from them and immediatly knew I'd need the Heritage Farm Favorites collection. ($13.50) It contains

Chiogga Beet

These can also be known as candy stripe beets. We love beets and their greens, and I can't wait to try this one.

Double Yield Cucumbers

Dragon Carrot

A purple carrot. I learned just today that the thing in blueberries that makes them blue and so good for you is also in purple carrots and potatoes.

Dragon's Tongue Bean

A waxy bean. (The stripes go away after you cook them, but aren't they gorgeous?)

German Pink Tomato

This will be the standard canning and drying tomato, which I hope to harvest tons of. We've been living on canned tomatoes and are down to the last two quarts and it's only February.

Seed Saver's Lettuce Mixture

This is my first try at lettuce and I had no direction, so this is just what I was looking for.

In addition to the collection, I ordered

Yellow Onion of Parma

A good standard yellow onion that stores well.

Amish Snap Peas

These will come up in spring and look SO delicious.

Blue Curled Dwarf Kale

Kale is our favorite green, and this will be hearty and filling when the cooler months come.

Amish Paste Tomatoes

For something roma-esque for sauces.

I'm really excited to try the Wapsipinicon Tomato

Named after the river, these are a fuzzy peach style of tomato. They are different than anything I've ever tried, so I can't wait to see what they turn out like. Plus, the Wapsi is where we canoe sometimes with friends.

Finally, for canning, Empress Beans

I also ventured away from SSE for a few seeds from an Ebay powerseller. (Links to currently active auctions, and photos from their auctions) They have a good variety and don't charge shipping after the first item.

Green Zebra Tomatoes

These are SO GOOD.

Red Wethersfield Onion

Also a good keeper.

French Breakfast Radish

These will also come up in spring. I love very hot radishes, which we ate a lot as children (V!), but these are a bit on the milder side.

Black Krim Tomato

I have to try at least one giant heriloom, and this is it.

PHEW. Well, this is just the beginning of my work. :) We shall see just how much of this actually makes it into maturity, but I'm excited about it for now. We have to plan and build the beds, but that comes when my backyard isn't a puddle or an ice sheet.

Nesting is nice, but we're looking forward to seeing the ground again.

What are you doing while you wait for spring?
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