Seeds for Hope I sent off my seed orders the other day. Winter came late to Montana this year, but it’s here now, and with a vengence. It’s been snowing all week, and cold. The kind of grey winter weather where there is no horizon, just blowing white snow broken by the occasional grey-brown windbreak of dormant cottonwood trees. It is most certainly the dead of winter, and for the first time ever, now that I have a yard where I can really sink a garden in, I got to sit down and fill out the seed orders. I’ve been working on this order for a while, because while I’m planning to build raised beds, and use the French intensive method of cultivation, I also don’t want to get too terribly carried away. I want to plant a lot of different things, but not very many of each, and I’m planning to do a lot of succession planting, especially with the greens. So I got a tiny bit … obsessive perhaps about this seed order. I actually built a little database listing the seeds, planting instructions, where I ordered them from, days to maturity, things like that. I had to, because I was getting confused between the different catalogues, and although I really miss arugula and chinese broccoli, I didn’t want to duplicate my orders, nor did I want to forget something I really like to eat.
It’s a specific imaginative pleasure, ordering seeds. In the past I’ve spent far too much money buying started plants, but now that I have the space to grow seedlings, one of my personal goals is to get better at propagation. So this weekend I’m off to Home Depot to buy propagation supplies: some shop lights with grow-light tubes in them, a heating mat, some seedling trays. It feels like an act of hope to start tomato seedlings when the world outside is still buried under two feet of snow, and our president is waving his finger at us on the tv and dodging all real questions about why this war is necessary. I have this vision of my backyard that I’m working toward … an English-style kitchen garden, a flagstone patio I want to build, roses and iris along the fencelines, and all of us out there sitting at my table in the endless Montana summer twilight, eating out of the garden and off the grill. I’m still not sure that in a time of war this isn’t the worst sort of head-in-the-sand behavior, but on the other hand, at least it’s something peaceful, and homegrown, and … I don’t know, green.
I used three catalog companies, Nichols Garden Nursery, Shepherds Seeds, and my favorite over in Idaho, a company I’ve been waiting ten years to have a garden where I can try their Siberian Tomato varieties: Seed Trust/High Altitude Gardens. So because I have an inherent fondness for lists, and for plant names, here’s what I ordered: Carrots: Scarlet Nantes, Touchon Tomatoes: aurora, galina cherry, gold nugget cherry, grushovka, Jaunne flamme Greens: Arugula/Italian wild rustic, Bright Lights Chard, Buttercrunch lettuce, Fris�e, Merveille des Quatres Saisons Lettuce, mache, Red Sails Lettuce, Salad Bowl Lettuce, Tyee spinach, True French Sorrel, Wild garden chicory, Wild Garden kale mix, Cima di Rapa Broccoli Raab Chinese Veggies: Golden Flower Kale, White FLower Kale, Pai Tsai (short white stalk bok choy), Yu-Tsai Chinese Rape, Endemame Soybean, Chinese Eggplant Beans/Peas: French Flageolet bush bean, Chinese Long Bean, montana marvel pea, Precovelle Petits pois peas, Vernadon Bush Bean Alliums: Chinese Leek, French Shallots, King Richard Leek Herbs: Chervil, cilantro, Italian Mt. Basil, chives, plainleaf parsley, Survivor Parsley ,Thyme,True greek oregano Other Veggies: Brussel Sprouts, Cornichon cucumbers, Early Wonder Beets, Lemon Cucumbers, harris model parsnip, easter egg radish, French breakfast radish, toma verde tomatillo, cocozelle zucchini, Granpa�s home pepper, Gypsy pepper, Aci Sivri Turkish heirloom Pepper, Flowers: Calendula officianalis, Coreopsis tinctoria (plains coreopsis), Cosmos bipinnatus, Safflower, arnica Montana, Colorado Columbine, echinacea purpurea, Iceland poppy, Oxeye Daisy, Bergamot.