Sunday, March 20, 2011

Stray Not, Thy Wandering Heart: This Year’s Seed Order

Last year, I purchased some yellow wax pole bean seeds and other vegetable seeds from another catalog. I felt somewhat guilty betraying John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds, since they were the first and best source when my more serious ventures in suburban agriculture started a few years ago. Midway through last season, I asked myself, “Why did I ever stray?”

The company is based in Connecticut, a neighboring state, so I can keep my dollars somewhat local. The catalog never fails to satisfy in both its charm and information. But, more importantly, the seeds are flat-out great. Some three-year-old Scheepers seeds I used last year had better germination rates and heavier vegetable production than the new ones I purchased from the other source. Suffice it to say, save some collard greens from the 4/$1 seed stand at my grocery store, just about everything going in the ground this year will be from Scheepers.

And (drum roll please…) the new purchases are:

Winter Red Russian Kale
Purple Dragon Carrots
Lemon Cucumbers
Zucchetta Trombolina Zucchini
Purple Podded Pole Beans (a perennial favorite)
Both red and yellow “jellybean” grape tomatoes
Sungold cherry tomatoes
Lyn’s Mahogany Garnet tomatoes
Persimmon tomatoes
Australian Butter Squash (for winter storage)

I’m especially excited about the new squash. Winter squashes have done quite well in my yard in years past and (I pray I’m not jinxing it here) I hope this new variety will do just as well and pleasantly surprise with its flavor and storage potential. The Australian Butter Squash is described as a “pumpkin-shaped heirloom, prolific, tasty and versatile with a pale, buff-orange hard shell and sweet, dense orange flesh with a small seed cavity…Weighing in at 12-15 pounds, list long-keeper may be stored and used throughout the winter.”

The areas for my cool-weather crops are turned over and ready, so the following will be planted shortly: the new red kale, Tuscan Lacinato Kale (older seeds, still viable), collard greens, and various lettuces. In a few weeks, the carrots and some parsnip seeds (not yet purchased) should make their way into sweet Mother Earth.

So, with seeds about to go in the ground, I may as well start the Eco-Nomics of it all for the 2011 growing season:

Scheepers Order: $37.15
Collards, w/tax $ 0.27
Total: $37.42

I have peat pellets left over from last year, along with their reusable growing trays and some seed starting mix. My daughter and I will start our tomato seeds shortly. Most everything else will be directly sown. We’ll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Something is different this Spring.

You all know that at this time of year, I’m always itching to wriggle my hands into warm, wet Mother Earth, plant some early, cool-weather crops and wait patiently for the first sprout to emerge from her rich soil.

But this year, I’m experiencing an all-consuming sense of urgency to it all. The tension is palpable. Mother Earth’s promise of spring seems to hold more potential and possibility this year. I want to smear her mud across my cheeks like an Indian warrior. I want to keep her fertile soil and heady scent under my fingernails so that I know she is with me at all times. I want to bend, twist, turn, shovel, haul and work so hard that my body throbs in delicious pain and I gratifyingly limp for days afterward.

Perhaps it is the long, dark winter, deeper with snow than in any year past that I can remember. Perhaps I have had the expectancy bottled up and inside for too long. Perhaps I am fantasizing about a rebirth and new beginning like none I’ve ever experienced before. I already feel it is underway – that is how palpable my restless heart’s anticipation has become.

My seed order has been delivered.
My beds have been top-dressed.
My turning fork has been cleaned, its screws tightened, and is ready to work the earth.
All is in place. I need only wait for planting day.

And I am longing for release.