Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Yes, It's That Time Again...

Good seeds, and true, you must have if your garden is to attain that highest success which should be our aim. Seeds vary greatly - very much more so than the beginner has any conception of. There are three essentials; if seeds fail in any one of them, they will be rendered next to useless. First, they must be true; selected from good types of stock and true to name; then they must have been good, strong, plump seeds, full of life and gathered from healthy plants; and finally, they must be fresh. It is therefore of vital importance that you procure the best seeds that can be had, regardless of cost. Poor seeds are dear at any price; you cannot afford to accept them as a gift. It is, of course, impossible to give a rule by which to buy good seed, but the following suggestions will put on the safe track. First, purchase only of some reliable mail-order house; do not be tempted, either by convenience or cheapness, to the gaily lithographed packets displayed in grocery and hardware stores at planting time - as a rule they are not reliable; and what you want for your good money is good seed, not cheap ink. Second, buy of seedsmen who make a point of growing and testing their own seed. Third, to begin with, buy from several houses and weed out to the one which proves, by actual results, to be the most reliable.
from Home Vegetable Gardening, by Frederick Frye Rockwell, 1911

Yes, it's time to be ordering your seeds, if you haven't already! We just finished up this week, leaving only the potatoes and sweet potatoes to be determined. I've said a lot about ordering seeds before, here and here, and I won't get into describing all the seed suppliers again. Go and check them out through the links..

Once again, let me draw your attention to the Seeds of Diversity site. Their list of available varieties in Canada is a wonderful resource.

We are definitely slowing down on the ordering of 60 gazillion different seeds each year; after 3 years gardening some distinct favourites are starting to emerge. Also, we bought a lot of seed last year and still have much of it. The big exception is beans; the heirloom varieties tend to come in small packets. I would have saved seed, but we had a bean virus in the garden last year, so we are ordering new this year. And of course, there are always a few things we just have to try.

From Heritage Harvest, we are trying a lot of beans: Desoronto Potato Bean, Dolloff Bean, Mennonite Purple Striped (a local heirloom for me!), Annelino Yellow and Early Riser. We're also going to have a go at Listada de Gandia eggplant, Weaver's Mennonite Stuffing pepper, and GaspƩ Flint corn.

From Cottage Gardener, we are getting Cherokee Trail of Tears bean, Chervena Chuska, Sweet Chocolate, Fish, and Orange Thai peppers, Guatamalan Blue squash, Patisson Panache Verte et Jaune summer squash, Cream of Saskatchewan watermelon, Country Gentleman and Double Standard corn and Australian Brown onions.

From Annapolis Seeds we are getting First & Best #2 and Misty peas, Purple Peacock beans, Musquee de Provence and White Bush Lebanese squash. We just sent him off a cheque, but I notice he is getting set up to start taking PayPal orders which will make things much easier there.

From Prairie Garden Seeds, True Red Cranberry and Grandma Nellie's beans, St. Hubert dried peas, Costata Romanesco squash, Orchard Baby and Simonet corn.

From Ontario Seed Company, Chioggia and Early Wonder beets (starting to look like staples for us), Sweetness III carrots, Hollow Crown Improved parnips, White Vienna Kohlrabi, and our old fave, Early Yellow Globe onions.

From William Dam, Spaghetti Squash, Sun Sugar tomatoes, Groninger Blue leaf cabbage (like collards, I guess), Imperial Star artichokes, DeCicco broccoli, and Harris' Model parsnips.

The main new seed supplier for us this year is Hope Seeds in Nova Scotia, from whom we have ordered Red Express cabbage, Jaune de Doubs carrot, Gilfeather rutabaga, Golden Midget watermelon (totally an impulse purchase) and Golden Grex beets (ditto). They have some very interesting stuff here, including a lot of east-coast heirlooms. Our main object here was to get the Red Express cabbage. We got seeds for it last year from Greta's Organic Seeds, but alas, not a one germinated. Hope it's not a system-wide problem.

That just left King of the Garden lima beans from Stokes (had to throw in some Painted Mountain corn and Jersey Giant asparagus too), and Santa Clara Canner tomatoes from Upper Canada Seeds.

So you see, this year we are really restraining ourselves on the new variety front! Hardly a single new, experimental item! So, yeah, when you stop laughing here are some more links for you, to my latest time-waster: old gardening books on line. The following 4 are probably worth dipping into:

The Plain Path to Good Gardening, by Samuel Wood. (1871)

Vegetable Gardening
, by Samuel B. Green. (First published in 1901.)

Vegetable Gardening
, Ralph, L. Watts (First published in 1911; also, written as a textbook and more technical and detailed than the others.)

Sweet Potato Culture, James Fritz, (1886) Short and, er, sweet!

Oh hey, and let me add: Squashes, and How to Grow Them, James J. H. Gregory, 1867.

And also, The Field & Garden Vegetables of America, Fearing Burr, 1865

What exciting things are you growing this year? Seriously, I'd like to hear!


CallieK said...

You are way ahead of me- I haven't even looked at a seed catalogue yet! I am off to Seedy Sat Niagara this weekend tho so that should kick off my plans.

spencer said...

I've been waiting to see when this seed post would show up!

There looks to be a ton of great things there and i am definalty wondering how some of them will turn out.

I regretably had to leave a few things off my list like the auatralian brown due to space constraints.

Ferdzy said...

Callie, hope you find lots of great things there - I'm sure you will.

Spencer, I'd love to hear what you are growing this year!

spencer said...

This is the current list of definates plus anything i see that i can't resist i will be adding to it lol

tongue of fire
red cranberry pole
Northeaster pole
vermont cranberry

atomic red
Deep Purple
Purple Rain
Snow White
Scarlet nantes
Purple haze

Bloody Butcher

reine de glaced
parris island cos lettuce

Dwarf Curled Scotch

bok choy

asparagus pea
Mammoth Melting
blue pod capucijners

alma paprika sweet
jimmy nardello
king of the north
sweet chocolate
purple beauty

black prince
black cherry
polish linguisa
northern lights
black ethiopian
isis candy
Kansas Depression

golden midget
small shining light
Sweet Siberian

all planted last fall
norther quebec
georgian fire
red russian
brown saxon
polish white
mcewen's red

Ferdzy said...

Spencer, not a lot of overlap on the tomatoes but a lot of the other things look familiar. Not familiar with Medusa peppers. We grew Bloody Butcher last year and it was better than I would have expected, and the only corn the racoons didn't get. Plus the huge stalks were, well, huge. We tied them to our mailbox to intimidate the neighbours.

On the other hand when I grew asparagus peas neither of us was impressed, at least not as an edible. They were extremely beautiful plants though, worth growing as an ornamental.

Good luck with everything.

spencer said...

this was the first time ive seen the medusa peppers mckenzie seeds and thought i would try them as an ornamental. Thats good about the corn becuase i wasn't really sure what to expect.

My plan witht the peas is to put them in a flowerbed but only because i don't have room in the garden. Glad to know they will fit right in. Definatly one of my test plants.

thanks Ferdzy you too!