March 12, 2008

Seedy and Crafty (The Growing Challenge)

A few snips on a cardboard roll produce biodegradable seedling cups!

Recovering from the flu has allowed me ample time to choose seeds for our garden.  We have plenty of herb seeds (at least 20 varieties) remaining from last year's order from Heirloom Seeds.  I also have mache, French mache, and something called "Salad Burnet," but I'm going to order several additional leafy types because I love fresh lettuce.  Plucked from the garden and rinsed, it's a totally different animal, so to speak, from greens that have spent any length of time in a bag.

This year, most of our seeds will come from Baker Creek, which produces an attractive catalog and has user-friendly, online ordering, as well.  I really like the story of this company-- Jere Gettle started selling heirloom seeds at age 17, collecting rare varieties from around the world and promoting seed-saving by his customers.  Now, he and his wife run a multi-faceted business in Missouri, including publishing a quarterly magazine and operating Bakersville, a pioneer-themed village with monthly events.  Whew!

Though Baker Creek's selection meets all of our needs, I'm also going to order from the Turtle Tree Biodynamic Seed Initiative catalog that I picked up at the Hawthorne Valley Farm Store.  Turtle Tree offers open-pollinated seeds from a network of biodynamic growers across the country.   Information in the catalog, such as source codes for each seed variety, is reassuring to anyone who is concerned about genetically modified organisms in our food supply.  

Baker Creek seeds:
Dixie speckled butterpea, Mexican sour gherkin cucumber, Ching Chang bok choy, Tainong Emperor heading mustard (for kim chi), Chinese Red Meat (or "watermelon") radish, Pantano Romanesco tomato, Riesenstraube grape tomato, Orangeglo watermelon, Red Wonder wild strawberry

Turtle Tree Seeds:
Golden beets, Charentais cantaloupe, arugula, "Frilly Oaks" lettuce mix, King of the North pepper, Anaheim hot pepper, Ronde de Nice zucchini, Rainbow Swiss chard, Principe Borghese tomato, Harold's Special Mix cosmos, alfalfa cover crop, burgundy amaranth cover crop

The lists represent about one-third of my original selections.   I crossed off my list those vegetables that are expected to be in plentiful supply at local farmer's markets: squash and zucchini, root vegetables, and several varieties of cucumbers (we love cucumbers).  I kept unusual varieties, such as the Mexican sour gherkin cukes and the "watermelon" radish, and varieties that I have great plans for, such as heading mustard for kim chi and Principe Borghese tomatoes for drying.  Wonderful Husband Charles is excited about cover crops (really, who isn't?).

And finally, to explain that wacky photo I took: biodegradable seedling cups can be made from empty, cardboard toilet paper rolls.  Use scissors to make an angled cut at one end of the roll.  Rotate the roll to create four to six parallel cuts.  Gently overlap the flaps, like closing a box top, and press until you have closed one end of the roll.  That creates the bottom of the seedling cup.  Fill the cup with growing medium, plant your seeds and keep them warm and moist, and you can transplant the seedling in its cup!  Happy planting!

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