January 27, 2012

Garden 2012: Seeds

My collection of seeds from 2010 & 2011,
I also still have a few from 2009

I've inventoried my saved seeds, I've perused the seed catalogues, and I've doodled some on graph paper. I think I'm ready to make this year's seed orders.

My seed collection is expanding a little every year, and I have a couple of year's worth of saved seed. My ultimate goal is to be totally seed sustainable, but there are still some things I need to learn. Plus I am still experimenting with varieties and various plants.  Based on the seed viability charts, I'm hoping to be able to rotate both what I grow, and the seeds I save. I'm thinking this will give us the greatest variety in the longrun, and help me avoid accidentally crossed seeds. Here's what's in those jars, containers, and shoe boxes pictured above:
  • Amaranth, Golden Giant
  • Basil, sweet
  • Beans (both green & dried)
    • Black Turtle
    • Hutterite Soup
    • Kentucky Wonder
    • State Half Runner
  • Beets, Red Detroit
  • Broom Corn
  • Broccoli (undecided on which is best)
    • DeCicco
    • Waltham 29
  • Buckwheat (just a handful)
  • Calendula
  • Cantaloupe, Hales' Best
  • Carrot, Scarlet Nantes
  • Corn
    • Stowell's Evergreen (sweet)
    • Truckers Favorite (field)
  • Cosmos
  • Cowpeas, Ozark Razorback
  • Cucumber
    • Marketmore 76 (we like this one best)
    • National Pickling
  • Lettuce
    • Oakleaf
    • Parris Cos
  • Marigolds (several varieties)
  • Melon
    • Hales Best
    • Green Nutmeg
  • Okra, Clemson Spineless
  • Peas, Wando
  • Peppers, Chinese Giant
  • Popcorn
    • Calico
    • Japanese Hulless
  • Pumpkin, Small Sugar (hasn't done well)
  • Radish, 
    • Cherry Belle
    • unknown (! probably crossed in spite of myself)
  • Squash
    • Acorn, Table Queen (winter)
    • Buttercup (winter)
    • Butternut, Walthams, (winter)
  • Tomato (didn't save Brandywine 'cuz we didn't think it was as tasty as Rutgers)
    • Roma
    • Rutgers
  • Turnip, White globe purple top
  • Watermelon, Small Sugar (gonna try bush type this year)
  • Yarrow
  • Zinnias, several varieties

The fun part is figuring out what I want to order. In the past I've always tried to divvy my order amongst all the seed companies I want to support. Each year though, I order less because I've saved more. Now, all that shipping & handling adds up. This year I figured out which two companies carry everything I want, from the ones that send me catalogues that is.

I've ordered from Shumway since the 1970s. Even though they don't carry organic seeds, and don't necessarily specialize in open pollinated seeds, they still have a good selection of heritage seeds, plus carry things others don't, like mangels, sugar beets, collards, bulk farm seed (pasture grasses and legumes, and field corn).
  • Buckwheat, 5 lbs (for weed control?)
  • Collards 
    • Vates (for the goats)
    • Morris Heading (for us)
  • Elderberry bushes, 2 (adding to my elder bush hedge)
  • Sugar beets, Bucklunch (for the goats)
  • Strawberries, 50 (to replace those lost by the wire grass)

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
  • Beans, long, Red Seeded Asparagus (testing another variety)
  • Celery, Tendercrisp (celery was Dan's request)
  • Cushaw, orange (instead of pumpkins)
  • Oats, hulless (for us, will plant hulled for the critters)
  • Sorghum, Mennonite (for animal feed until we get a sorghum press)
  • Summer Savory (2nd try)
  • Summer squash, Tatume (still experimenting with varieties)

In addition to these, are the seeds I bought on clearance last fall, from Sustainable Seed Company:
  • Beans, Dwarf Horticultural Taylor (for drying)
  • Eggplant, Florida Highbush (another 2nd try)
  • Peppers (expanding varieties)
    • Habanero Orange 
    • Tampiqueno
  • Poppies, Flanders Red (childhood reminiscences)
  • Tomatoes, Amish Paste (just to try another variety)
  • Watermelon, Bush Sugar Baby (bush to save bed space)

I've also finally figured out where I want to plant some Jerusalem artichoke. Rather than mail order these however, I will just buy them at someplace like Whole Foods. Same with my potatoes. Mine did lousy last year, so I'll start all over with Red Pontiac seed potatoes, which we love and are locally available.

Everything else will be grown from saved seed, with the exception of sweet potatoes, which I'll grow from slips. Of the two varieties I planted last summer, Vardaman did the best, so I'll use it for the slips. I did consider a different variety of field corn, Hickory King. When I researched grinding cornmeal, it was highly recommended for that purpose. However it boasted large kernels and since I also use mine for chicken feed, I decided to stick with the smaller kerneled Truckers Favorite. I have no complaints about the corn bread it makes, and I have plenty of saved seed from last year's harvest.

The next step is figuring out what will go where! More garden fun. :)


Carolyn said...

Mangles!!! Thank you SOOO much for letting me know where I can get them! I've been wanting to try them for several years now but have't found a supplier!

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

Ilt seems I always have seeds left over (lack of space) I haven't placed any seed orders yet..I think this will be a slow year for us..

Natalie said...

That is a very impressive seed collection. I have put my most of my seed saving on hold as we are still trying to figure out just which plants we want to continue with. Thank you for the tip about tomatoes...I have always planted Brandywine since I found it. I will have to see if I can find the Rutgers and give it a go.
Thanks for sharing.

Nina said...

I love garden planning for the next season. It's so much fun to leaf through the catalogues. I've found that this year, most of the seeds I want to order are from only one source, which is nice. They specialize in untreated seeds. There are only a couple of seeds I want from the second supplier, but may not bother due to the amount of shipping for just a couple of packets. I've had decent results from just purchasing seeds, off the rack, as it were, from local shops. I guess it's time to rummage through the shoe boxes full of seeds, stored willy-nilly in their old packets and envelopes, to see what I really do need this year. Nice selection of goodies you've chosen to grow.

Ngo Family Farm said...

Oh, this planning phase is so, so exciting! I'm working on a similar list of sorts here, but you're way ahead of me :) It was really fun seeing all the varieties you have planned for this year. Thanks for sharing!

Kaat said...

Ooh, I just did the same. Pity we can only do it once a year. Oh, wait... really? (cut up credit card here)

CaliforniaGrammy said...

Thanks of the reminder that it's time to do just what you're doing. You are so organized, Leigh, and I admire your diligence. I'm going to look into the Rutgers tomato because I'm not impressed with the Brandywine we planted last year.

Mama Pea said...

Methinks we're all a little eager in our garden planning this year! (And it hasn't even been a brutally hard winter!) Don't you make any pickles, Leigh? Or do you just use your Marketmore slicing cucs?

Woolly Bits said...

pity that I am not allowed to send over jerusalem artichockes, I'd have plenty to share! is there nobody close, who could spare a few? I am in the process of ordering, but have to be careful - it's always so tempting to get more than I need:))
can't wait for spring to come!

Sherri B. said...

I've been working on my seed list too..isn't it fun!? xo

Leigh said...

Carolyn, you're welcome! They are the only place I've found it too.

Ginny, me too. So I usually plant them the next year! Of course, I find I'm saving way more seed than I need too. :)

Natalie, it's getting there. I wonder if different tomato varieties do better in different parts of the country. I know most folks rave about Brandywines, (???)

Nina, it's one of the best parts of gardening! I can't say my storage method is always the best. Especially with saved seeds. They tend to sit around in old pie tins for a long while before I get them packaged properly. :)

Jaime, I just got my Baker Creek order off today!

Kaat, LOL. Actually, I manage 2 orders a year; one for spring and one for fall. :)

Janice, it only looks organized. :) As soon as I need something, I can't find it!

Mama Pea, always! Yes, I used my Marketmore for pickles. We're still finishing up the previous year's so we'll have to see how well the Marketmore's actually do. If not, I have Nat'l Pickling in reserve!

Bettina, oh I wish! Doubt customs would buy a "garden crafts" as a description of contents. :)

Sherri, my favorite January fun!

Jocelyn said...

Thanks for sharing! That was fun to look at. I was going to blog my list, but when I sat at the computer to put it together, it was 6 pages long as an Excel spreadsheet. It would be a crazy long post. Can you tell I'm still searching for the best of the best for our family?

I'm pretty proud of my organizing system this year, though. It's better than I've done in the past. If I keep up on it, it'll be a miracle. Maybe I'll blog about that in the future.

Like you and your potatoes, I decided to just use potatoes that I got from the farm stand this year. I was SO tempted to order fancy ones, but we had such a bad potato year last year, it was a huge waste of money. I am looking forward to comparing notes with you on your harvest this season!

Cat Eye Cottage said...

I would love to have room for some of the things you grow, like sorghum (very interesting), but I don't, so I'll live vicariously through your garden. I could not limit myself to only a few varieties of tomatoes. They are my weakness, and I always have to try new ones each year.

Halfhippie.com said...

It must be that time of year... I spent the day moving 100 sq ft markers all around my garden mock-up. Perhaps it is also this warm winter we've been having... can't wait to plant... but... must... wait.

Madness, Trouble, Squish and Milkbone said...

All the seed is very exciting! Since your pumpkins didn't do well, I could send you some seeds of a new variety ("Orange Bulldog") developed by a colleague of mine at UGA. It is an open pollinated variety with some variation in fruit appearance. It hasn't been tested in your area, so I don't know how it will do and it takes a lot of space, but if you are interested let me know.

NancyDe said...

I, too, am grateful for the mangel seed source. I would love to try to grow some for my animals. I feed my horses dried, pelleted beet pulp - I used to feed them the less processed dried, shredded version before the feed stores stopped carrying it.

I would like to try to make my own. It's so good for my laminitic old horse.

badgerpendous said...

Ah! Looks like so much fun! Of course, it also reminds me that spring is nearly here and now I feel like I'm falling behind! :)

I tried to talk my better half into letting me rip out part of the back lawn, but no go. One more year with a nice back lawn for the kids to play on... I suppose I can live with that...

(more container plantings I guess)

Best of luck, everyone, on the winter starts!

Leigh said...

Jocelyn, 6 pages! Still, seeds are the kind of thing some folks are quite interested in. Please do blog about your seed organization system! That's one area I could certainly use some help with.

Candace, yes having the room is a blessing. Do you save your tomato seed? I haven't figured out how to do that with more than one variety.

Halfhippie, LOL, but it's so much fun! Love the idea of markers. Might save me some graph paper and erasers. :)

MTS&M, I would love to try some. Seems all the traditional pumpkin varieties hail from the north. Not sure if that's the problem or something else. Cushaw squash seem to do better in the south, so I ordered some of that seed. A southern bred pumpkin might be just the ticket.

Nancy, so glad to have helped! I've fed my goats beet pellets too, and then discovered they like fresh beets. Of course, mangels are a beet too. Next year I'm going to try sugar beet for them. Not sure if I can extract any sugar, but I suspect the goats will love it.

Badgerpendous, maybe you can compromise and just expand the garden a little at a time. :) If not, containers can really be a great way to go!

Poppy said...

I just love this time of year! The planning stage!!! I wondered if you've grown Amarynth with much success. I'm curious to give it a shot as a grain but would love to hear how it's gone for someone else.

Thanks and have a great weekend!

Renee Nefe said...

I need to figure out what all I want to plant this year. I have to move my garden too.
Maybe I should just move to your house. ;o) he he

Leigh said...

RaShell, our amaranth did very well. I planted the seed & harvested the heads in summer 2010. It reseeded itself so that last summer, I had volunteers all over the place. I'm using it for feed, because I think the threshing & winnowing would be quite a chore. It's definitely worth a try!

Renee, if you do, prepare to be put to work! :)

Tami said...

Celery? I LOVE celery but never thought in a million years I could grow it here. Aren't you tired of hereing me say "it's too HOT"? But you've proved me wrong with the broccoli...

I'm assuming a Spring "indoor" start? How long till harvest?

Ellen from Georgia said...

Really enjoyed reading about your seeds and the planting. My question is what is Amaranth? I have gotten some Golden Mengal and this will be the first time trying to grow it. Going to use it to feed the goats and the donkey. Where in the garden do you plant the buck wheat? I would like to try and plant some for the goats. How much space would I need? Thanks Ellen from Georgia

Leigh said...

Tami, LOL, well, it is a cool weather crop. I will probably wait to put it in the fall garden. With the house turned upsidedown because of the kitchen remodel, I doubt I'll do much indoor seed starting. It supposedly needs 16 weeks, so whether or not I get any, depends on the weather cooperating. Actually, I should probably try to start some outdoors as soon as the seed arrives. I could just cover it well at night???

Ellen, we've mostly tried to use buckwheat as a green manure crop, though once I tried to use it to smother weeds by the fruit trees. I haven't had much success growing it thickly enough to do that. Last summer I sowed it in the bottom two beds of the garden. It doesn't need a lot of space, unless you want a lot. I managed to get a couple of cuttings to dry for the goats, but the deer were the biggest problem! Maybe I should have considered it a bait trap and been thankful they targeted that instead of other things.

The gypsy traveler said...

I love your choice of seeds. This time of year always gets me yearning for spring and getting my fingers in the dirt.

Dar said...

What a mountain of information. You have become one of my top stops. We, too, have boxes of seeds, most purchased at the local feed store, and of course, I've saved seed for years. It's wonderful, living off the land as much as possible, but, I've gotten ' too soon olt, too late schmart,' as my Grams always would say when her knees and back gave out to gardening.
Time to rummage through the seed boxes for me too, spring is coming in another 4 months for me, and 5 before I can plant in the ground.

Denise said...

I have had good luck with pie pumpkins. I guess it depends on where you live. My potatoes did really well but not so my sweet potatoes which are supposed to be easy to grow here in the south. I have a patch of walking onions which did really well last year and garlic seems to do well here too. Must be all the clay soil LOL. Cant grow peas or peppers for some reason but doesnt mean I'm going to stop trying. I just got my little peat pots today in the mail so am going to get the seeds out tonight and start planning. Have you grown any herbs?

Leigh said...

Gypsy Traveler, I feel the same way. I think we gardener types all get cabin fever this time of year. Thank God for seed catalogues!

Dar, I'm honored! Being able to sit down to a meal that is 80 to 100% homegrown is such a satisfying and secure feeling. I'm with you on lamenting starting on this late in life.

Denise, sounds like we've got similar soil with opposite results! Go figure. I agree about keeping on trying too. I think eventually we get the knack of growing certain vegetables. :) Yes, I am growing herbs too. I'm slowly turning my front yard into an herb garden. My goal is no lawn! That's where the perennials go. Annual herbs get mixed in with the garden veggies.

Cat Eye Cottage said...

Leigh: I haven't tried to save tomato seeds yet, but I noticed in the new Baker Creek catalog, there is an explanation on how how to save tomato seeds. I don't know if it's the technique you use, but check it out.

Leigh said...

Yes, that's exactly the technique I use. Not only for tomatoes but cucumbers and melons too. Speaking of the Baker Creed catalogue, have you ever seen so many different types of tomatoes!

Jody said...

That's a lot of seeds, chosen with a lot of experience. We hope to have your success too.

Michael said...

I'd like to suggest a green bean variety to you that I have become a huge fan of. The variety is Empress and I first bought mine from seedsavers.org, but I am sure it is available other places. They are by far our favorite variety of green beans and I think you'd love them.


Also, I have been reading your posts now for about a year...this is my first post. I very much enjoy your writing and experiences! Thanks so much for sharing!

SW Indiana

Leigh said...

Jody, maybe experimentation is a better term. :)

Michael, thank you so much for the comment and the recommendation! I'm not familiar with the variety, but am always willing to try something new. :)