Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I'm such a sucker for seeds!

Of course, a girl who doesn’t know how to say no to plant is also a person with a seed packet problem. There’s actually quite a few of us out there, I know, because I seem them browsing among the packages as I make my choices. They’re the other people fingering the Little Lion Butterfly Zinnias and trying to decide if they need one of two packages of the heirloom Watermelon Radishes (I took only one – and I’m worried I might regret it.) They know how they are, so I’m not naming names, but who can blame us. With a winter like this, the idea of spring seems more tangible with a slim package of promise or two tucked into your down jacket pocket.

Now I confess, right up front that I am terrible at starting seeds inside – my house is too small, I barely have room for houseplants, and I don’t have the right equipment. I have friends with grow lights and bottom heaters and those cute little wooden thingies that you use to make newspaper into biodegradable pots, all of which I lust for, but which the dachshunds would make short work of if I set them up anywhere in the house. What I really need a greenhouse, but I have a list of other home and garden projects that take precedent so right now, a green house is a luxury I just can’t afford.

But I’m still going to try. I tend to get the packages and sprinkle them in and among existing perennials, a plan that rarely works out well, since I then tend to forget and either weed up the seedlings or remember not to weed and end up cultivating a beautiful crop and weeds with a few seedlings struggling in their midst.
Some seeds are just so easy they are silly, so of course I have handfuls of those, nasturtiums in five different shades. Cutting Zinnias in hot pink, white, purple, red and orange, California Poppies in butter cream. A color that goes with everything and a plant that can handle almost any soil as long as there’s sun, cosmos, cosmos, cosmos – this year I’m going with the Rose Bon Bon Double ones. I grew the Double Click last year and am now crazy about double cosmos. They are definitely “have to have” seeds. And I will tuck Tithonia, the Mexican Sunflower seeds everywhere as I love the color orange. I actually have two packages that I’m going to interplant among the collection of yellow, apricot and white climbing roses I am hoping will soon swamp the veggie fence. I also plant morning glories on the same fence, since the roses are fairly new and I’m fighting the deer to get them to put on height. Last year I had Grand Pa Ott’s – a fabulous deep purple but this year I’m thinking it should be Clark’s Heavenly Blue – an amazing sky blue morning glory from the 20’s with huge flowers.

Of course I have to confess that I also bought some specialty primrose seeds from England. Quite a few actually, but since I have no hope of starting these myself, I’m hunting down someone to grow them for me. I think I have a lead, and if I do watch out, because then there’s no stopping me. Okay, okay, I confess I also bought some Hollyhocks, Alcea Black Currant Whirl and Alcea rosea Simplex Hybrids. Plus I don’t know how it happened but there were seeds that jumped into my hands in a hardware store and in a supermarket. So really, there’s already no stopping me, but I think I’ve just come up with a brilliant business – How about a “seed starting” company? Where you could pick you own seeds and then pay someone to start them for you, and then when they are ready you could pick them up and plant them. I guess it’s the same as buying pre-started plants at the nurseries, but doesn’t it sound more personal? And much more fun? Any budding entrepreneurs out there??

What I really meant to write about today wasn’t flowers. I was planning to write about vegetables. In the winter one of the ways I garden is through the turning of pages and I’ve just finished ‘Fields Of Plenty’ by Michael Ableman. Fabulous book. And just like his mentor Elliot Coleman, it inspired me to want to turn my whole back yard into a vegetal cornucopia. I bought my Mache seeds already, Corn Salad for those of you who don’t buy it in Cittarella in it’s little plugs, but for those of you who are thinking about starting things to get them ready to put in the ground, this week it’s time to start spinach and mache, both of which can be put in the ground around on or about March 4th if you believe the seed starting calculators I’ve been testing on the internet. I used May 15th as the last frost date, although I’m not sure that’s completely accurate. I think last year we actually had a very early last frost date, but I tend to use the 15th because it’s a month after the day taxes are due and I always remember the date.

According the seed starting calculator at Johnny’s Select Seeds it’s time to start artichoke seeds. Now I just have to find some.

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