In mid-February we gathered up all our notes and dog-eared seed catalogs, and finally made our seed orders. In past years we’ve mostly bought seeds from Seeds of Change. They have a really good selection of organic vegetables, herbs, and cover crops, and we like how all of their seeds are open-pollinated, which allows us to save and plant our own seeds if we want.
This year we also spread our seed purchases out among some other suppliers who have held our interest for a while. We ordered quite a wide variety of herb seeds and plants from Richter’s, an herb specialist in Ontario. They have a huge selection of medicinal and culinary herbs, so we restocked on some basics, like parsley, cilantro, and thyme, and got a lot of new ones to try: wild bergamot, salad burnet, sorrel, comfrey, and even a ginger plant.
As always, we got a lot of seeds. Most notably, though, we have decided to not grow several summer standbys this year: tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumbers, and pumpkins are all, as they say, Totally Off The List. We have decided that our garden is simply too small to accomodate these sprawling plants. We did get zucchini for the first time in years, because we know it to be a highly productive plant, and now that we have chickens to eat the overgrown squashes, none of it will go to waste. (I checked it out with some storebought: The girls love raw zucchini.)
We grew our first successful chiles last summer, and found them to be well-behaved, compact, and prolific plants. This year we’ll grow Serrano and Rio Grande varieties.
Last year we also had a lot of success with basil and runner beans. Both produced well and stored easily, providing us with food throughout the winter.
The basil was made into pesto and frozen. This year we will plant both Genovese, for pesto, and Thai, for curries. We’ll see if we can freeze some Thai basil in leaf form for use in the winter.
The runner beans ripened the vine and were threshed and dried to storage-hardness on drying racks. This year we will plant the Scarlet Runners and the heirloom half-runner Cannellini, both from seed we saved from last year’s harvest.
In general, we plan to grow some summer crops (beans, basil, sunflowers), but we want to also plant some longer-term crops (greens, lettuces) to keep growing throughout the winter. Too often, our garden is so crowded with summer plants that by the time everything is harvested and cleared, it’s too late to get anything (other than cover crops) growing for the winter. We’ll see if we can circumvent that this year.