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No, No, No, I’m NOT Ready!!!

December 31st, 2014

ACK, every time I open up my mailbox I’m greeted by a new seed catalog. I am completely unprepared to order seed at this early stage; I don’t even want to think about it. There has barely been enough time to sit down and rest from the previous garden season and I’m being bombarded with seed catalogs. It’s not that I don’t like them, in fact I love them, but only when I’m ready to start thinking about planting and getting my hands dirty starting seeds for the coming year. It’s still 2014 for goodness sakes!
seed catalogs
It’s like they come earlier and earlier every year. I know I have to sit down and make my list because gardeners are responding to these early catalogs by ordering earlier every year. Last year I couldn’t get some of the seeds I wanted because they were already sold out. At least in my years of gardening I’ve narrowed it down to a few catalogs, the rest go straight into the recycling so as not to clutter up my desk. My favorite places to order from are: Rare Seeds, Territorial Seed, Southern Exposure, High Mowing, Renee’s Garden, and Johnny’s.

Have you started receiving seed catalogs? Are you making your lists for the coming year already?

Seed Potato Sources

March 22nd, 2011

If you are able to grow good quality potatoes in your garden and don’t have trouble with disease, you can store the best potatoes from your harvest and use them for seed potatoes the following spring. Contrary to what you read in books, you don’t have to buy certified seed potatoes. I have a few varieties that I save from year to year, this is sometimes the only way to guarantee a specific kind of potato. Sometimes the same variety can be slightly different from two different sources. Saving your own seed potatoes does however open the door for possibility of problems, but if you practice good crop rotation and have healthy organic soil you should be OK. Make sure your potatoes grew well during the season and are free of disease, do not attempt to save and replant diseased potatoes or those that didn’t do well in the garden the previous season.

If you’re more comfortable buying fresh seed potatoes each year, by all means do so. You may not have the proper conditions to save your own seed potatoes from year to year. Buying fresh seed potatoes ensures the absence of disease and is a great way to try new varieties each year. It’s also a great way to go if you don’t have the garden space to grow all the potatoes you need for both eating and for seed stock for the next spring.

Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes: Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes is a family farm located near Bowden Alberta where we have growing seed potatoes for the past 23 years. Sadly for Canadian Customers only

Moose Tubers from Fedco has a great selection, but you have to buy early as they only sell potatoes through March 11, they are closed for the season. You can still check out what they have available for next year’s seed potatoes.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds also has a great selection. They have the option of having your seed potatoes shipped extra early for planting in a hoop house (read Eliot Coleman’s The Winter Harvest Handbook.

Grow Organic (aka Peaceful Valley Farm Supply) offers a nice selection of organic potatoes along with all kinds of wonderful organic gardening items from beneficial insects to great books.

Maine Potato Lady – Located in the foothills of Central Maine, the LaCourse Family Farm, home of The Maine Potato Lady™, has been in operation for 20 years. We are primarily seed growers raising garlic, shallots, and potato onions. We have produced all our own vegetables for many years. Our children are involved in the planning, the everyday work, the decisions, and the rewards. They were raised knowing and recognizing not just the types of vegetables, but even the different varieties of what we grow. They are an integral part of this farm; their participation makes it all possible, and brings joy to all we do.

New World Tubers – Specializes in rare and interesting potatoes for the home gardener and homesteader.

Seed Savers Exchange from which I purchased my potato collection last year and was very impressed with the quality. You do have to purchase early though and I notice that they’re sold out of some of their varieties.

Southern Exposure also has a great variety of heirloom seed potatoes. You can buy them individually or in three different mixes.

Territorial Seed Company has a great selection of organic seed potatoes including the option to purchase a collection of potatoes so you can try different kinds.

West Coast Seeds (only in Canada) – specialize in certified organic, non GMO, open pollinated, and heirloom seeds and seed potatoes for organic growing.

Wood Prairie Farm has a great selection of organic seed potatoes in colors, shapes and sizes. They have a collection you can purchase including red, white and blue potatoes.

Do you buy seed potatoes for your garden or do you save them from your crop? Do you have a great source not listed above if you do buy them?

Want to know more about growing your own potatoes? Head on over to the Your Day blog at Ethel to read my in depth article on growing your own potatoes.

Edible or Ornamental +free seeds

January 24th, 2011

Last fall I won a photo contest over at Renee’s Garden and they sent me a gift certificate *awesome*. What’s better than winning a gift certificate to a fabulous seed catalog? (I decide to share my winnings, see below for your chance to win some free Renee’s Garden seeds)

I was looking through the on-line catalog trying to decide what I wanted to order and I noticed that I’m definitely drawn to edible things, mostly vegetables and herbs. I have a few annual plants I start, mostly alyssum and zinnias, but I’m definitely a perennial gardener when it comes to blooming plants (or things that self-seed readily without my help).

I’ll definitely be ordering ‘Catalina’ spinach as it has done beautifully in my garden, the ‘Italian Aromatic’ sage was fab in my Thanksgiving meal, and I’m really loving my pot of ‘Amsterdam’ seasoning celery for winter soups and stews. I was also very happy with the ‘Romanesco’ zucchini, isn’t it a beauty?

So far on my list of seed to order I have:
‘All-Season’ broccoli
‘Endeavor’ kirby pickle
‘Trieste’ bulbing fennel
‘Crispy Winter Salad’ greens
‘Summer Bouquet’ lettuce trio
‘Ruby and Emerald’ container lettuce
‘Merveille De Quatre Saisons’ heirloom lettuce
‘Jewel Tones’ peppers
‘Delicious Duo’ scallions
‘Summer Perfection’ spinach
and one of the shaker cans of California Poppies to try on my back hillside, which is plagued with terribly dry lean soil. I think I’ll buy a few flowering seeds, maybe the 3 different kinds of allysum they have and some nasturtiums (also edible) and those window box sweet peas are adorable, perhaps I’ll get those to dress up my garage window!

Of course I didn’t want to keep all these lovely seeds to myself, so I’ll be giving three packs of Renee’s Garden seeds of your choice to one lucky reader. For your chance to win, head over to Renee’s Garden and choose 3 varieties of vegetables, flowers or herbs that you’d like to grow and list them in the comments below. If you win I’ll order your choice of seeds along with my order, I’ll choose a winner on Friday. We have a WINNER!
Congratulations! Head on over to Morgan’s blog Grounded and read about things like: making your own seed balls, how to build a worm bin and what life is like in Southern California.

What do you grow most of, ornamental or edible?

For anyone interested Renee’s Garden if offering 10% off your entire order until Jan 31, 2011 with code: EARLYBIRD

It has started….Seed Starting 2011

January 18th, 2011

I’ve officially started the 2011 gardening season. I started 1 flat of onion seeds so far and some celery seeds. Most seed starting guides will tell you to start your onions and celery a month later than this, usually mid-late February. I find that these do much better if started earlier. Onions can be planted outside early as they can take some cold weather. I have found that my celery does much better if I plant it earlier rather than later.

I’ll be starting a few more flats of onions this week when I have some time, and I’ll probably start a few little containers of herbs that I want to be of decent size when when spring comes. This year I’m experimenting with soil blocks. I think I’m going to be doing some experiments to see how they compare to cell flats, they’re certainly cheaper.

What is the first thing you typically start for your garden?

My Trip to Comstock, Ferre & Co. + Free Seeds

November 3rd, 2010

The first place we visited on our trip through New England was Comstock, Ferre & Co. They are the oldest continuously operated seed company in the United States, they started back in 1820. Comstock, Ferre was recently purchased by Baker Creek, one of my favorite sources for heirloom seeds. They had just reopened before we visited (in early October) so I was happy to be able to stop by.

The store was beautifully decorated for the season both inside and out; Indian corn, pumpkins, gourds and all other sorts of things. There was quite a wonderful display out front of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes.

The inside was filled with Baker Creek Heirloom seeds along with a lot of beautiful antique things from the original store. There were large wooden cabinets with seed packs glued to the fronts of them and big wooden filing cabinets labeled with seeds varieties. There was also a sort of museum in one room featuring old seed saving, sorting and packaging equipment. I was told they are hoping to use this equipment when they start selling Comstock, Ferre Seeds again.

While I was visiting, Jere Gettle, the owner of Baker Creek, happened to be there as well (what are the chances?). We chatted for a while and he told me all about their plans for the future for Comstock, Ferre & Co. They’re hoping to turn the grounds into a show garden and the store will focus on heirloom varieties from New England. They plan on using the grounds for community and educational events.

In a world dominated by GMO’s and genetic contamination, I’m a big proponent of growing heirlooms. I’m very thankful for the things Baker Creek does to help preserve heirloom plants. We would be in quite a quandary without companies like them preserving these wonderful fruits, vegetables and plants for us to grow in our gardens. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m especially fond of Baker Creek seeds, I have found them to have a wonderful selection of quality heirloom varieties.

Jere very generously offered to give me as many seeds as I wanted to give away here at Chiot’s Run. I picked a variety of lettuce and tomato seeds, since these do well in almost any garden and are a fabulous place to start for any new gardeners. I have 10 prizes to give away, each winner will receive a pack of tomato and a pack of lettuce seeds (all heirlooms of course). All you have to do is comment below for a chance to win some heirloom seeds for your garden.

Are heirloom varieties an important part of your garden? What’s your favorite heirloom vegetable to grow?

WE HAVE WINNERS for the free seeds:
Ashley W
Veronica V.
Michelle M.
Canned Quilter
Seren Dipity
Amanda Daja

If you didn’t get my e-mail use the contact me button on the sidebar to send me your address so I can mail out your seeds!

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.