Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Seed Catalog Time

Since mid-December seed catalogs have been arriving. My favorite is Johnny's because of the useful information in it. However the source of most of my seeds is Fedco. As time goes on I will be switching away from hybrid varieties and so Seed Savers Exchange will become an increasing source. I would like to begin saving some seeds.

The mild green that we have liked most in the past two years - zen - seems to be only sold under that name by Burpee and Cook's Garden (which I believe is now owned by Burpee). Since it now sells for around $5 a packet I am looking for other greens that are similar. I have several on order and will grow them this year to see if they can replace zen. (Trying to locate zen greens through Google doesn't help - the "zen" part leads down a whole different path.

Zen is the larger leafy green at the left in this photograph. The plant to its right is an Italian dandelion ("Clio"). It is a very nice upright plant that definitely has a dandelion taste. I know that deer like it. I didn't notice any deer munching of the zen but they weren't growing right next to the dandelions this year. Snails and slugs did take their share.

In any event, the arrival of the catalogs has had its usual result - I have ordered a batch of things that I have not grown in the past including tatsoi, golden purslane, minutina, komatsuna, celeriac, and Belgian endive. My garden does not lack for purslane. It is the major weed in the vegetable garden and while we could let it grow to add to salads it seems to grow best with lesser expectations. That is, when I select a few plants to grow for consumption they don't grow nearly as well as the ones that I don't want to grow.

I am told that celeriac is very easy to grow and we bought a couple and ate them. They can be stored to be available after the cold weather begins. The Belgian endive grows during the regular gardening season and then can be brought in and forced to produce again in the dark of the cellar. Both of these are part of our effort to extend the growing season. Some of the other new vegetables - tatsoi and minutina - are greens that I will try to grow in the winter cold frames, which I hope will begin to materialize soon. I have cleaned up enough the cellar area around the table saw that I can begin cutting wood for the first glassed cold frame. I plan to put this one in the garden and transplant mache and spinach into it soon after the beginning of February from seeds I started two days ago. It will be interesting to see whether the soil, under the frame, will warm up enough for planting.

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