2021 Seed Purchases

Starting sprouting peas, grown for their leaves

I’ve placed my first set of plant orders: from Fedco and Prairie Moon. I got these orders in earlier than usual because of the the dramatically-increased demand in 2020. I put more emphasis this year on getting non-hybridized seeds, because we’re still a little nervous about the supply chain holding up. We did more seed-saving in 2020 than I’ve done before: lots of cucurbits, and some lettuces which probably cross-bred. (But hey, we’ll still get lettuce from them!)

Allium seeds (like chives, onions, garlic) don’t last as long as other seeds, so my Prairie Moon order included two native perennial Alliums: nodding onions, and wild garlic. I already have chives and a row of Egyptian onions, which are both perennials and produce a lot of seeds (or top-bulbs, in the case of the Egyptian onions). Many other Allium species are biennials, so it’s rare that I get seeds from those.

There were some seeds I wanted that Fedco just didn’t have, or I knew I could get cheaper locally. I’ll be checking the hardware stores and WalMart for some cheap zucchini seeds, pie pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, and rosemary seeds, plus some more tomato seeds (Roma and Fourth of July). I’ll be buying an orange pepper at the grocery store for its seeds because the small variety I kind of wanted from Fedco was really expensive, and a hybrid, so I couldn’t even justify it to myself by saying I could save the seeds.

If I can’t find what I want at those cheaper stores, we are lucky enough to have a great source for less-common seeds right near us: Gardeners Supply Company. I expect to be getting at least the Malabar Spinach and some edamame seeds from there. Fedco sells edamame normally, but didn’t have any available when I placed my order. Those are delicious when steamed and salted.

FEDCO order:
295A — Blue Coco Organic Pole Bean, 1/2oz — 1 × $2.50 = $2.50
818A — Oregon Giant Snow Pea, 2oz — 1 × $2.50 = $2.50
826B — Oregon Sugar Pod II Snow Pea, 8oz — 1 × $6.00 = $6.00
1226A — National Pickling Cucumber, 1g — 1 × $1.75 = $1.75
1392A — Telegraph Improved European Long-Fruited Cucumber, 1g — 1 × $3.00 = $3.00
1504A — Saffron Yellow Summer Squash, 1/8oz — 1 × $2.00 = $2.00
2558A — Winter Bloomsdale Organic Spinach, 1/4oz — 1 × $2.75 = $2.75
2592A — New Zealand Spinach Specialty Green, 1/4oz — 1 × $2.25 = $2.25
2712A — Black Seeded Simpson Organic Looseleaf Lettuce, 1g — 1 × $2.25 = $2.25
3022A — Arugula, 1/16oz — 1 × $1.75 = $1.75
3159A — Gigante d’Italia Organic Parsley, 1/16oz — 1 × $2.50 = $2.50
3203A — Garland Serrated Chrysanthemum Asian Green, 1/16oz — 1 × $2.25 = $2.25
3335A — Speedia Brussels Sprouts, 0.25g — 1 × $4.50 = $4.50
3443A — Champion Collard, 2g — 1 × $2.00 = $2.00
3465A — Dazzling Blue Organic Dinosaur Kale, 2g — 1 × $3.00 = $3.00
3688A — Rosita Organic Bell-shaped Eggplant, 0.2g — 1 × $3.00 = $3.00
4140A — Amish Paste Organic Paste Tomato, 0.2g — 1 × $2.75 = $2.75
4250A — Sun Gold Small-Fruited Tomato, 20 seeds — 1 × $3.00 = $3.00
4471A — Flowering Thai Basil Organic, 0.5g — 1 × $2.50 = $2.50
4536A — Fernleaf Dill, 0.5g — 1 × $2.50 = $2.50
4592A — Lovage Herb, 0.5g — 1 × $2.25 = $2.25
Total: $57

I REALLY like Oregon Sugar Pod II, and don’t care about growing any other peas (other than “sprouting peas” grown for their leaves, because they do great in a windowbox in the greenhouse really early in the year–see the picture above this post) but I wanted to try the Oregon Giant to see whether it’s as sweet and tender.

Prairie Moon order:
Allium cernuum – Nodding Onion
Allium canadense – Wild Garlic
Asarum canadense – Wild Ginger
Cimicifuga racemosa – Black Cohosh
Total: $12 ($3.oo each)

All of the Prairie Moon seeds I ordered are documented as native to my area: either our home county specifically, or just a county or two away from our farm. They should all do well in shade, too.

Garden put to bed, but still some plants to harvest

Hon Tsai Tai, a mild brassica

So…it’s mid-December. We’ve had hard frosts and snow, and melt and more snow several times, killing off MOST of the garden, but not all. The kale and the Egyptian onions are still thriving and plentiful. There’s still a nice little patch of parsley, and some cilantro that needs to be picked because I doubt it will revive whenever the next warm spell comes. There’s some spinach and chickweed under a “solar plant cone,” which is a season-extender I first read about in the Solar Gardening book by the Poissons.

Parsley, mid-December
Parsley, mid-December

We also still have a small patch of radishes and Hon Tsai Tai under a larger plastic dome. Hon Tsai Tai is like a purple-stemmed, Asian version of Broccoli Rabe, but mild. I picked a sprig of it today, and it’s almost sweet. The frost has removed all of the sharp brassica taste.

Other than those cold-tolerant plants, mulch covers the garden. Under one section of mulch, next to the row of Egyptian onions) there’s a small bed of mâche (Valerianella locusta, a.k.a. corn salad, nut lettuce, field salad, and so on) that I planted at the beginning of this month, hoping for a nice little crop in early spring, when there’s not much else poking out of the ground except dandelion leaves.

Egyptian onions, mid-December
Egyptian onions, mid-December

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Late autumn flowers

chrysanthemum bloom in front of brassicas

There’s an article in the local paper about late-autumn flowering plants. There are still some asters and goldenrod blooming here, but most of it has gone to seed.  Henry Homeyer mentions some late-blooming shrubs. I’ve had Witch Hazel growing elsewhere, and can’t wait to get some here for Sunny Woodlands.

What we do have now is our fall crop of Shungiku, an edible chrysanthemum. So bright and cheery, with beautiful foliage. It makes a beautiful, edible bed border about 20 inches tall.

We’ve also finally got some Jersusalem Artichoke flowers, which didn’t even really start to bud until the weather got chilly.

Jerusalem Artichoke
Jerusalem Artichoke

And then there’s the fall foliage. Now’s the time of year when you can most easily see all the places the invasive burning bush has escaped to! Our Japanese maple is the same brilliant red.

Ode to Brassicas in a Northern Clime

Daikon in fall

Brassicas in a Northern Clime

rule like dinos in another time

if you plant early spring, they’ll bolt to seeds

when you let them go, they displace the weeds

Kale  leaves
Kale leaves

root veg, tight heads, stem, or leaf,

all flower with four-lobed motif

sprouting in days

evolved so many ways

the harvest fills trugs

just watch out for slugs

Patch of kale
Patch of kale

The very cold-tolerant Brassica family can give us Northerners a huge harvest all the way up to Thanksgiving–sometimes even Christmas–without protection.

Also known as cruciferous vegetables for the resemblance of their 4-petaled flowers to a cross. Their seedlings also have four lobes: two on each of the cotyledons, which emerge before the true leaves appear.

They are grown for different edible parts, varying from flowers (broccoli and cauliflower), to roots (radishes and turnips), to leaves or heads of leaves (kale, arugala, bok choi, cabbage, Brussels sprouts), to stems (kohrabi), or both florets and stems (broccoli rabe and hon tsai tai).

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October gardening

Compost-bin Butternut squash!

About 5 or 6 nights of light frost have hit so far. Not all in a row; there’s been nice weather, even 70°F days in-between. So what’s still growing in our part of New Hampshire?

We covered up the basil to protect it from the first few nights of frost. We processed a lot of it for freezer storage. There should be enough to make Pho all winter and Spring. Then we brought most of the remaining plants into the greenhouse, which still gets up to 90°F at times!

Giant basil, in the greenhouse
Giant basil, in the greenhouse

We’ve been covering up the tomatoes and tomatillos when frost is expected. Their leaves have been taking hits from the light frosts but are still ripening a bit more. Some tomatoes that have started to turn have been brought in to ripen indoors. The volunteer plants are ripening slightly more quickly than the others. The tomatillos continue to get bigger inside their husks as the weather gets cooler.

Tomatiila
Tomatillo (the husk starts off way bigger than the fruit inside)

We had already harvested the squash from the new clearing we made this spring because their leaves got hit by frost and the stems shriveled up during an extended period with no rain. But the Butternut squash in the compost bin held out longer and yielded two very large squash. What a great volunteer!

Compost-bin Butternut squash!
Compost-bin Butternut squash!

The Malabar spinach got hit earlier by the frost than the New Zealand Spinach. Both are not true spinach varieties, but heat-loving substitutes. As of mid-October, the NZ spinach is still thriving under a clear dome we use to protect plants during the early and late ends of the growing season.

New Zealand Spinach
New Zealand Spinach

The beets and regular spinach I planted in early August are thriving. I take a leaf to nibble now and then when I’m in the garden.

Fall beet crop
Fall beet crop

We’re getting a great crop of Shungiku, which is an edible chrysanthemum. I use the leaves in stir-fries. I’m leaving one plant to go to seed. The scattered chamomile and Jerusalem Artichoke (a sunflower with edible tubers) are still going strong, too.

Shungiku, loving the cool weather
The Shungiku is loving the cool weather

What’s in your fall garden?

Squash in the Pick-up Truck (2020)

Squash in the pick-up truck

We were expecting a big rain about a week after some light frosts killed all the leaves on the squash except the butternut growing on the compost pile. So we grabbed the ripe ones that remained unpicked and got them into dry storage to cure.

The results confirm our interest in specializing in Blue Hubbard squash in our newly-cleared cucurbit patch. We have until June (2021) to work on the usability and fertility of that area so we can have a field full of large blue alien eggs by the end of next fall!

Also see: Plants we grow and recommend for our climate