Need more seeds?

In case you gardeners in the US haven’t finished ordering your seeds for this year, here’s a tool that might help you sort through your enormous pile of catalogues:

The home page of PickACarrot.com

The home page of PickACarrot.com

PickACarrot.com is a free search tool that compares similar items across a wide array of seed catalogues. It includes a dedicated organic seed search function.

I gave it a quick spin. The search function could use some tweaking: Clicking on the front-page photo link for untreated ‘Hestia’ Brussels sprouts seeds yielded 4849 items, including (on page 485 of the results) heat mats, variegated clivia seeds, and kale. We cannot all be Sergey Brin and Larry Page, I suppose. But the first four results were all ‘Hestia’ untreated seeds, listing the supplying company, the amount and unit price, and when available, the number of seeds per dollar. And the next listings after that were for other varieties of Brussels sprouts. It wasn’t until page 8 of the results that things began to drift off course…first to other kinds of sprouts, then to other brassicas, then all over the map. But who reads through 8 pages of results, anyway?

You can search by scientific or common name. Give it a try.

Seed swap!

Yesterday on GardenChat, we talked about growing tomatoes. (To see the recaps of the Monday night chats, review their archives.) Looking at photos and hearing recommendations from gardeners across the US, Canada, and even a few from the UK, I became ravenous, craving not only fresh tomatoes, but their seeds as well.

My personal seed libraryI’ve participated in seed swaps before but have never hosted one. I don’t know how chaotic it’s going to get. But I’m giving it a try.

Here’s what I’ve got that I can share:

Tomatoes:

  • ‘Yellow Pear’
  • ‘Principe Borghese’
  • ‘Mortgage Lifter’
  • ‘Sophie’s Choice’ (good for short seasons)

Peppers:

  • Jalapeno (how do I put the tilde on top?
  • ‘Corno di Toro-Rosso’ (I think)

Miscellaneous vegetables and herbs:

  • Basil (Genovese)
  • Bush bean ‘Contender’
  • Broccoli ‘DiCicco’
  • Broccoli raab
  • Claytonia
  • Cucumber ‘Arkansas Pickling’

Misc. ornamentals:

If you want any of those, reply to this post and let me know what you’d like. If you have a blog of your own, link to a post showing what you have available to swap. I will leave it to individuals to work out mailing addresses and so forth.

 

By the way, I’m in search of almost any variety of sweet pepper, as well as tomatoes ‘Carbon,’ ‘Black Krim’ (can’t believe I’m out of those seeds!), ‘Black Cherry,’ ‘Paul Robeson,’ and ‘Amy’s Sugar Gem.’

Flower and herb seeds are welcome, too. Please try to make sure you’re sharing fresh, viable seed.

Let the swapping begin!

 

 

 

 

 

Garden log, 2.9.15

Nothing glamorous today. Shredded leaves for about 2 hours to adhere to my self-imposed promise to shred last year’s leaves before this year’s emerge. I’m cutting it very close. Fed the leatherleaf viburnums, witch hazel, roses with soybean meal. It will release slowly as the weather warms, so I’m not terribly concerned about chilly temperatures forecast for later in the week.

Spent a good chunk of time Sunday thinning out the Lavandula angustifolia and sprinkling lime on the pinks. Planted two seedling palms, names unknown, in the front near the road to try to do something for curb appeal. I’m tired of feeling depressed as I approach the house; this year is the year to finally get off the duff and do something about it.

Overjoyed to see the witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) in bloom.

witch hazel branch 2

witch hazel flower

Garden log, 2.8.15

Hurrah! Mother Nature says it’s time to plant the peas.

plant your peas copy

It’s important to wait until your soil is adequately warm to plant seeds or transplants. If it’s too cold and damp, the seeds will rot, or germination will be delayed. Don’t ask me how I learned these facts.

I planted ‘Oregon Sugar Pod II’ and ‘Cascadia.’ It’s always dicey, planting peas, because our springs can go from cool to blazing hot in just a couple of weeks. Fall crops tend to perform better, but I try every year for a good spring batch.

Planted some ‘Bloomsdale’ spinach, flat-leaf Italian parsley, and bok choi as well. Hope that harvest looks as good as this one.

Left to right: Arugula, lettuce ('Freckles') and bok choi.

Left to right: Arugula, lettuce (‘Freckles’) and bok choi.

Link

Last year, I grew cotton as an ornamental. My plants weren’t impressive, but they did flower and set seed, thus letting me have another shot this year.

A bit of my homegrown harvest.

A bit of my homegrown harvest.

I started them very early this year, and will pot them on and move them to my cold frame in a few weeks.

Cotton seedlings started in Keurig cups.

Cotton seedlings started in Keurig cups.

Cotton requires a long growing season, which is not a problem here, but I plan to experiment with starting some crops early under pre-heated soil (which we discussed this week on GardenChat), and cotton will be one of my test subjects.

The main challenge to growing cotton well, I think, may be its hungry nature. I’m planning to plant it this year near roses and other greedy plants, so I can concentrate my inputs in a few key locations.

What plants are you experimenting with this season?

Garden log, 2.1.15

Winter blues seem to be hitting me harder this year than they usually do. I haven’t had the urge to get out and tinker on those intermittent warmish days. I started to wonder if my gardening verve had disappeared.

It’s amazing what a little springtime can do.

Hellebores

On a walk around the garden yesterday, I spotted my first hellebores of the year. How they fired me up! I promptly ran to the shed to extract a rake and hand pruners. I raked away the last of the fallen leaves and cut away all of last year’s hellebore foliage to better show off the emerging blooms. To my delight, I found hundreds of hellebore seedlings carpeting the ground around the mother plants. Once they’ve got their true leaves, I’ll transplant them to other spots in the garden that need some cheer.

If you’ve never grown hellebores, perhaps because you’ve been intimidated by the price at the garden center, it’s time to shake off that anxiety. It’s hard to think of a tougher plant that isn’t made of synthetic materials. As long as you have some bit of shade, however slight, you can grow hellebores. They grow brilliantly at the base of deciduous trees, even ones with intrusive roots like maples. And if you buy one or two plants in flower, they’ll reseed generously every year. It takes them about three years to grow from seedling to flowering size, but the seedlings are charming in the meantime and can be spread out to cover what grim, bare earth you’ve got.

hellebore seedlings

Hellebore seedlings can take what nature throws at them.

Did I mention that they flower for ages? Last year mine were in bloom for a full four months, finishing up when the rest of the garden had found its footing.

Honestly, there’s no reason not to treat yourself to a few plants. Go on.