It feels like I’m going to be able to be more forthcoming with the garden projects I’ve got going on this year so I thought I would take advantage of the freedom by posting all the seeds I buy or acquire by trade, gifts, etc.
When I bought bean seeds the other day I also purchased some assorted vegetable seed but decided against posting about them there to keep the post on topic. In the meantime a pack of Gourmet Mesclun Asian Baby Leaf (Phew that was a mouthful) seeds arrived in a press packet from Renee’s Garden. Packets of lettuce and greens never go to waste around here! I’ve had “Get some greens started on the windowsill” on my to-do list for over a week now. It’s way too early to get them going outdoors around here just yet, but there should be enough sunlight to pull off a crop of micro-greens.
When I think about it, it’s kind of amazing that I’ve managed to acquire this many seeds so early without having given barely a thought to what I will be doing in the garden this year. Perhaps this garden season will take inspiration from my trip to Cuba and just be about going with the flow.
What I Got:
- ‘Matt’s Wild Cherry’ Tomato – This is a classic, super prolific and easy to grow wild variety. I’m fairly certain I’ve been growing these in my community garden plot where I inherited a crop of tomatoes that self-seed every year. This is most likely the plant I have permanently tattooed on my arm so I figured it was time to try and solve the mystery once and for all. I could have easily acquired these in trade if I’d had the patience to wait half a second, but…. I don’t. So I didn’t.
- ‘Sparkler’ Radish – I’m always on the lookout for a good radish contender for container growing and figured this round ‘French Breakfast’ alike might just fit the bill. And since I’m a fan of that elegant two-tone variety it was hard to pass up a rounded version.
- ‘Golden Detroit’ Beet – I generally don’t grow beets since we can get them cheaply enough at the farmer’s market but how could I pass up a variety with such a glam rock vibe about it? Come to think about it, these last two plants could fit into a disco theme seed collection. Anyways, this variety is golden with golden veining. It kind of reminds me of ‘Golden’ Swiss Chard, another beauty.
Just when I thought today couldn’t get any worse and that I might waste the day away wallowing in a pity party for one, seeds arrive in the mail. It’s amazing how such a small thing can cheer me up so fully.
I’m very determined to experiment with melon varieties this year. I ordered three more varieties from Seed Savers but will probably have to narrow my choices down to 2 or 3 varieties in total for want of space. I tend to order seeds with the kind of ambition best reserved for a sprawling country farm.
A stack of lettuce seeds, the fruit of my first attempt ordering via the complicated Seeds of Diversity system arrived from Vicki’s Veggies a CSA located about an hour or two away in Prince Edward County. As soon as the ground thaws I plan to get outside and sow some ‘Drunken Woman’ lettuce. It’s encouraging to know that at least some of my seed money was not diverted towards a disgruntled postal worker luncheon. Who knows what else will make it to my mailbox this week. I put through a lot of last-ditch seed orders recently.
Sounds like meat, as opposed to accompanying meat.
- ‘Bacon’ Bush Bean – I am guessing it doesn’t actually taste like bacon although meat lovers everywhere would like for someone to get on that, stat!
- ‘Caseknife’ Bush Bean
- ‘Bloody Butcher’ Tomato – Don’t hurt me!
- ‘Jack Rabbit Kidney’ Snap Bean
- ‘Deer Tongue’ Leaf Lettuce – Has got to be a delicacy somewhere in the world.
- ‘Goose Liver’ Bush Bean
- ‘Butter and Bull Heart’ Tomato – This variety is even described as “meaty.”
- ‘Lea’s Supersteak’ Tomato – Sounds like a steak eating contest.
- ‘Top Sirloin’ Tomato
- ‘Bull’s Blood’ Beet – I really love growing this variety. The dark burgundy leaves are gorgeous paired with silver and chartreuse plants.
Another Seedy Saturday Toronto has come and gone and like last year I managed, with great effort, to make it around to a few booths and pick up some seeds. The event was more packed than ever this year making it nearly impossible to leave my brother/assistant alone at the table for any length of time or push through the crowds lingering around some of the larger seed sellers. The sellers I did manage to get to were often sold out of items on my wanted list. And forget the Seeds of Diversity trading table. I had high hopes but only managed to snag a pack of red orach seeds. Next year I plan to employ the strategy of browsing during setup, BEFORE the crowds arrive. Next year.
Here’s what I managed to bring home with me:
- Red Orach – A trade pack harvested from Jackman Public School’s Learning Garden.
- ‘Early Yellow Crookneck’ Squash – A trade with a You Grow Girl forums member. I thought I needed squash but then got home and realized I have several varieties in my stash. This is why I should have brought a list.
- ‘Dragon’ Carrot – Another trade that I already have. ‘Dragon’ is a beautiful purple carrot. If I had to choose I suppose I favour it over ‘Purple Haze’ although ‘Dragon’ would crumble in a Best Name competition.
- Love Lies Bleeding – I’ve been trying to grow more amaranth over the last few years and ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ is a classic that never gets old.
- ‘Blue Spice’ Basil – Another trade. I don’t think I have grown this variety which is kind of amazing since I’d swear I have covered just about everything in the unusual basil category at least once.
- ‘Purple Calabash’ Tomato – I fell in love with its ugly beauty last year. I am planning to grow less tomatoes this year and have not finalized my list as-of-yet. Who gets cut will be the hardest decision I have to make this year.
- Painted Lady Sweet Pea – I just love the fragrant sweetness of sweet pea flowers but tend to steer clear of them due to their attractiveness to aphids. I decided to try my luck and grow a few varieties this year. I can always pull them out if things get nasty. This variety really does look like the runner beans of the same name. I know it seems redundant to grow them when I can just grow the beans later in the season but I can’t cut those flowers and I am really craving cut sweet peas for my desk.
- Persian Broad-Leaf Cress – I have grown a number of pepper cresses but like that this variety is described as milder than other cresses.
- Tendergreen Mustard Green – I’m on a personal mission to try growing just about every salad green under the sun.
- ‘Queen Anne’s Pocket Melon’ aka ‘Plum Granny’ – I’m planning to grow some melon this year but admittedly this one was an impulse buy and not on the list. ‘Plum Grannies’ are tiny melons known for their intoxicating fruity smell. I can not resist a good back story and the story for these citrus-sized melons is that Victorian women carried them in their pockets to fight street stench. The thought of two of these in a breast pocket has me thinking about another derivative of the colloquial use of ‘melons.”
- Swiss Chard ‘Ruby Red’ & ‘Golden Sunrise’ – I’ve grown the ‘Rainbow’ mix and other coloured varieties but these two are my favourites for their saturated colours that look so beautiful in containers of contrasting colour or as a burst of brightness tucked beside boring veggie varieties.
- ‘Selway’ Lettuce - Brightly coloured greens are another edible trick I employ to brighten dull corners and containers. Consequently I am always on the look out for a good red variety. We’ll see how these fair against ‘Lolla Rosa’ aka ‘Lollo Rosa’ which still reigns as my favourite red.
- ‘Cimmaron’ Romaine Lettuce – An unusual romaine with a deep, reddish purple hue.
- ‘Yugoslavian Red’ Butterhead Lettuce – A really beautiful butterhead variety with shades of green tinged by deep red.
- ‘Black Spanish’ Radish – I’m very curious about the flavour and how to eat this root vegetable.
- ‘Black Jet’ Soybean – I have to admit I bought these for the dark bean colour. I’ve had a lot of success with soybeans in containers on the roof but that dang groundhog just LOVES to eat the plants as they emerge from the soil at the community plot.
Don’t forget to enter the Haiku Contest!
This is one of those ideas that is insanely simple yet effective. Grow a couple of lettuce varieties with pretty leaf shapes and bright colours. Put them together in a container that sets off their leaf colours or grow them in individual pots of a contrasting colour. In this case I have two leaf lettuce varieties with very curly leaves and contrasting colours (‘Ruby’ and ‘Henderson’s Black-Seeded Simpson’) set off by a black metal container. Hint: Chartreuse and yellowish greens always looks good when paired with deep reds or purple.
The key to keeping lettuce happy on a hot deck is to move the container to a less intense spot when the heat of summer kicks in and make sure to keep the soil moist — they’ll get bitter faster if they experience too much drought. You can cut each leaf off individually (remove from the outside if you want to keep a nice rosette) or just chop the whole thing off about an inch or so from the soil line and set the plant aside (somewhere less visible unless you’re comfortable with the stubby bits on display) until it grows back a second harvest.
By the end of the second round the leaves are usually too bitter to eat. Don’t toss it out into the composter just yet! You can still get some use out of your lettuce by setting the plant into hotter sun (don’t forget to water!) and allowing the plant to bolt. Bolting is when a plant produces flowers and then seeds prematurely in a mad rush to reproduce itself when the growing conditions become too extreme. This is usually caused by the increasing heat of summer and intense sun. The colour will often deepen in hotter sun and some lettuce varieties will grow into crazy, alien towers with pretty flowers perched on top. Don’t bother trying to eat it at this point since it will taste horrible and ooze a gluey substance when cut, but it makes a very cheap and easy bright spot when set amongst boring edibles like tomatoes and potatoes.