I went to my local Italian grocer this week and chose seed packs for the contest. I tried to stick with varieties that winners can grow in a variety of conditions whether that’s location/climate, season, small spaces, big spaces, and containers. Some of these can be direct sown and some should be started indoors. Something for everyone!
Italian seed packets tend to be very generous and these are no exception. Each packet contains enough seed to sow a farm or share with several friends.
Below you’ll find write-ups on each variety that I chose. Many of these varieties have become available through companies that sell heirloom seed, but I still find that Spigarello is not commonly available. My local grocer didn’t sell it last year and I was so glad when they listened to my pleas and stocked it again for 2013.
There is still time to enter the contest but you must do so over here. Enjoy!
My friend and fellow plant/collecting enthusiast Uli Havermann (you may remember her from this incredible succulent pot, this stunning blue sea holly, and these beautiful urns) is a member of a large community greenhouse here in Toronto. Last week she treated me to a glimpse inside. Like community gardens and allotments, community greenhouses are not all created equal. Each function in their own way to achieve varying goals. Years back I was a member of a small community greenhouse that functioned more like a collective in which each member had a particular job or role and worked to help care for each other’s plants.
The greenhouse I visited last week is much, much, much larger and functions more like an allotment garden in which members pay an annual fee for a large, multi-tiered wooden bench (I don’t recall the dimensions) on which to house their plants. Taking care of other members’ plants is not expected, and I would imagine, discouraged.
Regardless of the model, a greenhouse like this is an invaluable resource for city dwellers who don’t have the space in their own homes to overwinter beloved houseplants and start seedlings. I can also see its benefit as a green refuge to enjoy on days like today when the garden is buried in snow and the temperature is too cold for life. Within just an hour-long(ish) visit I was practically wobbling down the aisles drunk on the scent and sight of plant life. I left feeling reinvigorated and positively giddy about the approaching garden season.
It’s not like me to hone in on the flowers and disregard the plant, but it happens. It certainly did the other day when I took this picture of beautiful bell-like flowers on a tour of a local community greenhouse (a post with photos is forthcoming). I could have sworn they belonged to a succulent in the genus kalanchoe, yet when I brought the photo up on my screen I knew my memory had failed me.
Info on how to enter the giveaway follows.
And so it begins. Every spring I compile lists of posts about seed starting, but this year I’ve decided to create a permanent page dedicated to everything seed starting that you can find anytime you need it by clicking over to the Resources section. I am slowly rebuilding the Resources and will add more permanent, topical, how-to garden resource pages as I go.
On a personal note, I bought my first two packs of seed the other day; more impulse buys from my local Italian grocer. I could not resist another big packet of Spigarello (you must grow this) because friends are always asking about it. I also purchased a long day (better for Northern gardeners), Italian red onion I have never grown before called ‘Rossa di Toscana’ as the time to start onion seed is quickly approaching.
I’ve been very fortunate to move into a neighbourhood where a wealth of Italian heirloom vegetable seeds are easily accessible so I thought I’d do a giveaway of five packs of my favourites to get the season started.
For years I published a regular, email newsletter filled with site updates, pictures, contests, stories, and assorted garden-related ramblings… and then I stopped. People wrote to ask where the newsletter went and if I was okay and all I could think was, “It’s in my brain. If only I could will it from my brain and into the computer screen.”
After a five year hiatus I have decided to resurrect the newsletter. Joining is completely free. There is no obligation to join; however, be informed that there will be much commiserating over terrible weather, **frolicking in sunny fields of flowers, and hootenannies that you will not want to miss.
You can expect bi-weekly, weekly updates of:
- recent site updates and articles
- workshops and events
- interesting links
- newsletter-only perks
- anything else that I think you’ll enjoy
I hope you will join me and I will try my best to make it worth your while!
[About the photo: The above photo depicts roses harvested from my garden in early August 2012. The varieties are two climbers and one bush: 'Westmoreland' (orange & pinkish), 'Night Owl' (black/purple), and ‘Graham Thomas’ (yellow-orange). I purchased the vintage lithographed bowl from an etsy shop called Scout and Rescue.]
**The management regrets to inform you that they can not guarantee nor provide frolicking, fields of flowers, and/or hootenannies at this time.