Sunday, January 13, 2008

Seed Order, also known as "Oh my god, she's gone crazy!"

There's serious danger in giving a gardener virtual carte blanche when it comes to seed ordering, and that's essentially what running my CSA does. Not only do I feel obliged to provide a nice variety for my members (umm, yeah, that's an excuse), but I also love being able to try different varieties that I might never grow just for our family. The CSA really works for me in that way because it does offer a plausible excuse to try lots of things, it provides the funding for doing so, and it ensures that the produce goes to other families rather than just languishing in the garden. This year, too, I have the whole front yard that I'm making over from turf into an edible/ medicinal plant garden.

Really... there was a whole set of quite legitimate rationales for the number of seeds I ordered, starting with the CSA, moving onto the front yard project, and wrapping up with a small dose of peak oil preparedness. No way will I go through all these seeds in one year, even with my succession planting, which allows me to try several different varieties and shake things up a bit for the CSA. But that's okay. Most seeds will keep quite a long time, especially if dried, vacuum sealed and stored in the freezer, with the notable exception of corn and onions, which tend not to save well beyond a year. Plus, the bulk of what I've purchased is open-pollinated, meaning that if I do it well, I should begin to be able to save more of my own seeds on a rotation, part of my long-term plan for the farm.

So, I submit this list as much as a record for myself as fodder for all my readers proving I am, indeed, as insane as Jim thinks I am.

Seeds left from last year (no I never got them into the freezer, but it's still a good plan):
  • artichoke (saved seeds)
  • arugula
  • bean: royal burgundy snap, isar French fillet, genuine cornfield pole, Kentucky wonder pole (saved)
  • bok choi
  • broccoli: calabrese
  • brussels sprouts: catskill
  • cabbage: early jersey wakefield
  • carrot: red core chantenay
  • cauliflower: snowbell
  • celery: conquistador
  • chervil
  • chives: garlic, purly
  • cilantro
  • cucumber: Boston pickling
  • dill: bouquet (saved), hercules
  • green onion
  • kale: Hanover spring, vates
  • kohlrabi: purple
  • leek: American flag, blue solaize (very few)
  • lettuce: black seeded simpson, parris island cos, sweet valentine, red salad bowl, green salad bowl, speckled bibb, oakleaf, Thai oakleaf, winter density, forellenschuss, anuenue, slo-bolt, ermosa, buttercrunch, jericho
  • michihli
  • muskmelon: Hale's best, hearts of gold, old time Tennessee (4 seeds)
  • parsley: curled, flat leaf
  • parsnip: hollow crown
  • peas: Amish snap, Little Marvel, Wando
  • pepper: California wonder, serrano hot
  • pumpkin: little pam pie, jack-o-lantern
  • raab
  • sage
  • salsify: sandwich island mammoth
  • sorrel
  • spinach: long standing bloomsdale
  • sweet potato: beauregard (gift from Nicolas)
  • swiss chard: bright lights, ruby
  • radicchio: verona red
  • tatsoi
  • tomato: (very few of each) sweet olive, gold nugget, sun gold, Amish paste, German red strawberry, Brandywine, green zebra, sweetie
  • turnip: seven top foliage, purple top
  • upland cress
  • zucchini: black beauty
  • bee balm
  • bergamot
  • borage: blue, white
  • calendula
  • evening primrose
  • lavender: munstead
  • motherwort
  • mullein
  • white sage
  • wormwood

Yes, any rational person would have looked through their seeds and determined that was plenty for a very large garden. As Jim is so fond of telling me, however, I am apparently not remotely rational. Really and truly, though, I don't plan on ordering anything next year except perhaps for corn and potatoes, depending how the upcoming season goes, and to fill in any gaps. Promise. You can hold me to it. Jim will expect you to.

Seriously though, a large part of my rational was broadening my fall storage vegetable and winter garden repertoires, which really does make a lot of sense. C'mon, now—it does, so! I also want to try different varieties to try to find one that performs really well here. Plus, I went for a few jazzy color combinations and varieties. Oh god, all right, here goes. Up until now it's been my dirty little secret, but now it's out and Jim will know and shake his head and I'll feel so much freer with it off my chest!

This year's seed order:
  • basil: sweet genovese
  • bean: Louisiana purple pole, genuine cornfield pole, Cherokee cornfield, rodcor butter bean, provider, flagrano French bean
  • bean, soup: Taylor's dwarf, black valentine, sulphur
  • beet: lutz, chioggia
  • broccoli: di cicco
  • carrot: Belgian white, purple dragon
  • Chinese cabbage: bilko
  • chives
  • corn: double standard (old fashioned sweet, open pollinated), robust (popcorn—we tried "Tom thumb" and didn't like it)
  • cotton: Mississippi brown, Erlene's green, nankeen
  • cucumber: yamato, marketmore
  • dandelion: clio
  • eggplant: rosa bianca
  • endive: totem, eros, rhodos
  • escarole: pancalieri grado
  • gourd: green apple, mixed small
  • kale: vates
  • kohlrabi: winner
  • lettuce: dark lollo rossa, natividad (both reds)
  • marjoram
  • oats: hulless
  • onions: cortland, redwing, purplette
  • peppers: ace, sahuaro hot
  • potatoes: red nordland, yukon gold, Russian banana
  • radish: black Spanish, d'Avignon
  • squash, summer: golden bush scallop, early prolific straightneck, costata romanesca,
  • squash, winter: seminole pumpkin, cinderella pumpkin, sweet meat squash, winter luxury pie, table queen vine acorn, delicata, Waltham butternut, marina di chioggia
  • swiss chard: rainbow
  • tomato: Amish paste, Brandywine, striped German, green zebra, sweet olive, red grape, sun gold, gold nugget
  • turnip: hakurei
  • watermelon: Amish moon and stars, strawberry
  • aesclepius tuberosa (butterfly weed, pleurisy root)
  • calendula: Pacific beauty
  • chamomile: German
  • echinacea: tenneseensis, purpurea
  • false unicorn
  • fennel: florence
  • feverfew
  • flax: omego
  • ginseng: American
  • horehound: white
  • hyssop
  • joe pye weed: sweet
  • lavender: munstead
  • lemon balm
  • lemon grass: east Indian
  • lovage
  • pennyroyal: English
  • peppermint
  • salad burnet
  • saltwort
  • savory: summer, winter
  • scarlet runner bean
  • soapwort
  • skullcap
  • stevia
  • sweet shrub
  • thyme: German winter
  • valerian
  • vervain: blue
  • woad
  • yarrow: proa

Everyone say it with me: "Bad Danielle! Bad Danielle!"

It could be worse. I could've gambled with that money or spent it on phone sex or even... gasp... a single purse as so many women do!


Vicki said...

Good Danielle, Good Danielle! Great list. I had a pretty big list of seeds to order too. But no where near as big as yours.

I'm headed down to my mom's in Feb but we're going to take the train. I ended up going in december with unfortunately no time to stop. :(
So maybe late Spring.

If it's summer maybe I can bring some salves. The herbal salve workshop taught us how to make the salves in a big jar in the sun for 2 weeks during the summer. I'm so exited about it!

Jenny said...

Just read your seed post. I'll reciprocate on my blog--I guarantee you'll feel much better!

karl said...

wow, thats huge.

ben said...

Nice blog. One word of advice/warning: Be careful using pigs in your gardens. We did that for many years, until our then-2-yr-old son crapped out a long white worm (later, he coughed one up, but you really don't want to know about that).

Pigs are super-prone to worms (asceris). If you're not worming your pigs - we still don't; call us stubborn - you can be fairly certain that at some point, you're going to be introducing these parasites to your soil. The eggs can live for many moons (even years) in the soil, waiting for someone to pull a carrot and start chomping. Next thing you know... wigglers in the diaper.

They're not super harmful, although they do hatch out in the lungs and can cause asthma-like symptoms. But they sure are gross.

We still do pigs. We just keep them well away from our gardens and rotate regularly. We are considering starting a worm-free herd by worming a sow and boar and keeping them on fresh ground.

Danielle said...

Thanks all for the comments, and a special thanks to Jenny for her seed list support.

Ben, thanks for the info. Pigs, as I'm sure you know, have been used in sustainable agricultural systems for many, many years. We're careful to follow organic guidelines, pulling pigs from the garden 120 days before any potential harvest. Following them with chickens also acts as a natural parasite control, breaking the cycle with any eggs they ingest.

Kids are far more likely to end up with parasite infections from the family dog than from minimal pig manure in the garden, yet no one really advocates not letting kids play with dogs. Granted, culturally speaking we probably over-worm our pets, which is a whole 'nother can-o'-worms. ;)

You have, however, reminded me why I should be pulling the herbal anthelmintics together!

Danielle said...

Adding that we do routinely worm animals new to the farm in order to prevent introducing worms to our pastures. I think that's just good management practice.

Of course the worm-free farm is a rare thing. We practice selective worming based on FAMACHA techniques and fecal samples while also supplementing with natural anthelmintics and breeding for resilience. We also worm sheep and goats after lambing and kidding when they're particularly susceptible.

Our stance on worming is our primary deviation with organic livestock standards, though even they do allow for emergency use of Ivermectin in breeding stock—a practice that's likely creating resistance problems.

homemoma said...

whoah, nice list. i was wondering do you use all the seeds in the packages or just have few plants form each variety? i totally admire your seed list. who will do the weeding later in the summer?

Danielle said...


No, I don't always use all the seed, which is why I have so many seeds left over from last year. But in some of those seed packets I have just a few seeds left.

I swear by succession planting, so I'm usually planting every single week of the season. Well, not quite, but it often seems like it! I just planted radishes on Sunday and will plant another round probably this Sunday.

Basically, I'll do short rows at a time so that I always have something coming up as I harvest the older plantings. This has worked really well both for always having something mature to harvest, but also in terms of dealing with disease in things like squash and cucumbers. If squash bugs hit it too hard, I can yank and burn the plant, knowing that another is coming right behind. Having a burn barrel is handy for this kind of thing.

As for weeding, well, primarily I do it all. I may get some help occasionally from the kids or Jim, and once in a while I'll call in a CSA work share for help. Of course, with last year's drought, there wasn't a whole lot of weeding to be done during much of the season.

Weeding, too, I'm learning is overrated, especially once the plants have established themselves. As long as they're not competing too much for moisture or nutrients, the weeds can act as a living mulch, preventing the soil from baking out and losing moisture.

Ren said...

I'm sitting here thinking how much better I suddenly feel about my seeds!!:)

Seeing as we haven't done a large garden yet, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at the work ahead...and excited. I just organized all the seeds I saved from last year and the ones I took from the last beekeeping meeting (they gave away piles of seed).
Waiting on an order with a bunch more, including five varieties of potatoes. yay!

I'll be watching to see what grows well for you guys, since our weather seems pretty similar.

Still need to get the blueberries, apple trees and maybe a couple other fruits.

Hurray for garden addicts!

Christy said...

Nice list! The plans for the front yard are exciting.

Anonymous said...

It's good you recognize, Danielle, that your seed madness has a putative object: your CSA! The rest of us are just seed gluttons ;)

Actually, I am not adding much to the seed inventory this year. (Not Much meaning only 20 packets, which, as you know, qualifies as practically nothing!) My seed-saving ventures have actually been really (excuse the pun) fruitful. So every year I add a new variety in each category or so just to keep things interesting.

But I swear a part of all my seed saving and purchasing is a bit of my own peak-oil paranoia. Seeds might just be the currency of the future if things get really ugly. At least, it's my juicy rationalization du jour...


Danielle said...

Oooh, good El—I'll have to check out your blog for seed-saving hints and tips. They are there right? If not, I do hope you'll talk about your process at some point.

Hey Ren, 5 potato varieties! That's exciting, and my bet is that each one will be better than the next. There's nothing quite like a homegrown potato. That was our sorest loss in the drought last year, and I've been walking around like Scarlett O'Hara ever since: "As god is my witness, I'll never be without potatoes again!" (said in my best southern drawl)

Are you going to try the no-till method of planting them? Ruth Stout No Till Maven

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