Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Gone to Seed January 29, 2009

So many gardeners have already marked their seed catalogs, sent in orders, and received their exciting little packages. The most enterprising have already even started their seeds growing. Me? I’m still in ponder mode.

My mom is a bigtime seed-starter and January is the month when she spends many an hour flipping through the seemingly mile-high pile of catalogs she receives every year. She asked if I would like to look at some of them, since I was only mailed a couple this year, so I took a gander.

Seed catalogs

(Top row, from left: Thompson & Morgan, Johnny’s X 2, Nicholl’s, Park, Tomato Growers, Seeds of Change, Abundant Life, and Territorial)

With limited time and brainpower (I would say lately, but I think it’s a permanent condition at this point), I was not able to peruse them as thoroughly as I would have liked. Also, even the most realistic estimation of my probable success with starting, planting out and caring for even a few varieties of veggies and flowers in my small garden would probably indicate that I shouldn’t order much, if anything.

But how to resist the siren calls of these catalogs, which promise ease of growing, deliciousness of produce, and the beauty and bounty of summer when it’s so cold, colorless and dreary out in January?

Just a few of the temptations I will probably resist (this year, at least): epazote, chamomile, “Caveman’s Club” gourd, black Spanish radish (nero tondo), Mexican sunflower, agretti (an Italian green), and scarlet runner beans (no trellis big enough). Also noticed some other unusual offerings, like salsify, scorzonera, wolfberry plants (goji), and a hardy olive tree. I didn’t even allow myself to look in the back pages of any of the catalogs, where all the fun garden gadgets and tchochkes are described so alluringly.

What will I actually order? Well, my mom is so kind to start many things for me every year, such as snap peas, bush beans, marigolds, lettuces, calendulas, pansies, parsley, and basil, among many others. I usually direct-sow arugula, mesclun, and nasturtuims and let sunflowers grow from seeds the squirrels missed the previous year. If I can dig down and remove some of the evil clay underlayer below my veggie patch, this year I might get a few root crops going – purple dragon carrots and Misato Rose radish (aka Red Meat in other catalogs). My mom and I agreed to both try Nero di Toscana kale (sometimes listed as dino kale) and multi-colored chard, to get our dark leafy greens. I’m on the fence about Hungarian breadseed poppies – I love the idea of something that comes up from direct-sown seed and grows to 3-4 ft. tall, but I wonder if I’ll regret its tendency to resow and crowd out other plants. Spinach, borage and gloriosa daisy will round out my order from Seeds of Change, since I want everything I can to be organic. I hope they have what I want still left by the time I get around to ordering, maybe this weekend…

Did you restrain yourself with your seed order this year, or did you get carried away on an imagined summer breeze and abandon all reason? Oh, and another question – do you bother with paper catalogs anymore, or do you do all your seed perusing and ordering online?


10 Responses to “Gone to Seed”

  1. How diplomatic of you to call it “enterprising.” 😉 I call it impatience…

    Oh, and I definitely abandoned all reason. 😀

    Good luck on those seeds. I left a few for you at Seeds of Change.

  2. Michelle Says:

    LOL, I did restrain myself but still ended up with a treasure trove of seeds! I get a few catalogs but tend to do most of my perusing online. Online catalog browsing tends to reduce temptation since I’m usually looking for something in particular.

    Nero di Toscana, which has yet another name, Cavolo Nero, is my favorite kale. And, maybe it’s the difference in our climates, but the breadseed poppy has never been a reseeder in my garden.

  3. Melanthia Says:

    I get no catalogs and haven’t bought any seeds yet (still have some from last year), so you’re ahead of me! It looks like you’ll have a nice selection from the potager this season though. Have fun!

  4. Catherine Says:

    Oh, I have lots of seeds. I usually pick them out at the nursery, it’s so easy to be tempted. If you want some breadseed poppies I have enough seeds to share now. Lucky you to have a Mom that will start all those for you.

  5. No seeds – no garden… I can’t bother planting even pots, as if we move, it will be on emore thing to carry. But I love looking at the beautiful pictures, and dreaming…

  6. Racquel Says:

    Considering I had received alot of seed from generous gardeners during the seed exchange I did in December I actually did restrain myself quite a bit. 😉

  7. Ronnie Says:

    Hey Karen…you mentioned you are going to order borage seeds. Such a neat plant…I even heard you can eat the young leaves and that they have a cucumber taste! I have them in my yard and they are quite a voracious re-seeder.

    Does anyone know if there’s a site where I can put myself on a list to receive garden catalogs???

  8. Paula Says:

    I was getting carried away earlier in the month, but may be back to reality by the time I get around to ordering!

  9. We’re just finalizing our seed orders at Blithewold today – I’ll probably post about trying to be restrained… I have a couple of other catalogs to recommend to add to the siren chorus maybe for next year — Seed Saver’s Exchange and Baker Creek both offer heirloom varieties from around the world (and not from Monsanto). Happy ordering!

  10. Leslie Says:

    Ah…well here in Tejas gardening is a 12-month pursuit, so procrastination is not an option! No winter garden nap for me! First round of tomatoes, etc. really have to be seeded indoors in January and cooler crops (lettuces, greens, cole crops,etc.) can all be direct seeded for a second or third round this month and next. I love to buy seeds of all sorts. I get all the catalogs, but since I run a garden center, I usually just buy what I need at work. Mostly Seeds of Change. I also buy seed potatoes from Wood Prairie Farm. I drool over the Tomato Growers Supply catalog (it’s sitting next to my laptop as we speak, on top of a pile of others…) One day I dream of being able to grow every variety in that catalog! Crazy, I know….

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