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Seeds I Ordered this year

by | Feb 6, 2018 | Food, Greenhouse, THE LATEST | 0 comments

I have been slower than usual choosing my seed and it’s mainly because the more I learn about seeds and gardening, the harder it is to select seeds to grow. And then Niki Jabbour’s new book “Veggie Garden Remix” arrived and I had more choices than ever to add to my shrinking real estate.

Nikki’s new book arrived just before i ordered my seed so of course I had to stop and read it before I ordered anything. It is a fun and enjoyalble read for any gardener with so many newsy tidbits and fun solutions. I think gardeners are gonna love this one.

So to be clear I am still growing on the same amount of space but I now know its limitations. My outdoor garden is largely hugelkultur which means there are branches and wood piled on top of my sketchy soil. If I try to grow carrots on this wood pile they end up all gnarled as they try to push through the piles of branches.

I am growing most of my vegetables this year in my west coast garden. I share the tomatoes and cauliflower and broccoli I start with my daughter in Calgary and she puts them in her garden there. My daughter in Edmonton always buys on impulse at her local seed stores and my son in the far north surprises me with his plants every year. He orders some and saves some of his own seed including his garlic which gets bigger every year. I physically have to go up there to see what he is up to but so far it looks like lots of garlic, some beets, kale, lettuce and other greens. His tomatoes are all in his greenhouse. Like mom, he got tired of battling elements.

I love my growing system except for the soil flaw. But then what was I gonna do? My new garden is on pure sandy soil – and I had to build it up and fast. So the Hugelkultur is great for top-growing plants like Pak Choi (also called Bok Choi) and spinach and zuchhini but potatoes and carrots? Not so good. That’s why I grow so many potatoes in grow bags and this year I got a head start with them in my greenhouse.

Grandaughter Mali sits in a deep hole she dug in my garden – which is built on pure sand… not a great mineralized space for food. This, essentially, is why i piled up brush into a hugelkutur garden.

So what you really want to know is what highlights did I add to my garden this year and why? Here they are:

It is nice to have shelling peas so why not Maxiglot, the purported tastiest of late-crop shelling peas? And apparently pea supports are optional with this pea.

Peas : Oregon Giant (Westcoast Seeds). Why? They are fat and long and can be seeded as early as March on the Coast or April on the Prairies. This was a highlight last year and produced for a long period, eaten both as flat-podded peas and edible podded peas. They don’t seem to get tough or stringy.  I am thinking of adding Maxiglot (Johnny’s Selected Seeds) because they are listed as the best flavoured late variety. As a late variety – I’ll plant them later once the soil warms up. So when the early peas start to brown and dry up in August, the Maxiglot will still be in their prime.

These are the best peas I have ever grown so of course I am growing them again this year.

Beans: I usually keep the beans out of the greenhouse because they typically are magnets for spider mites and even if you don’t have mites in your greenhouse the beans will call them in and become infested almost instantly. But because I always break my own rules I am trying the warm–season beans from Europe because the reviews about their flavour won me over. The European varieties need more heat to germinate so if you’ve jseen my blog about adding heat to the greenhouse soil you will know what I am thinking. I ordered ‘Record’  (William Dam Seeds). For outside the greenhouse I ordered the yellow-podded heirloom seed ‘Carson’ (Wild Rose Heritage Seed) and ‘Mascotte’ (William Dam) because they thrive in pots and people always ask me about growing veg in pots.

Beets: When Wildrose Heritage Seeds in Lethbridge Alberta told me they love Touchstone Gold I was convinced. I have a lot of red beet seed left over from last year so will be finishing those packets up this year and trying this new to me golden beet.

Potatoes- No more bright purple Blue Russians – helpful husband had a hissy fit when I introduced this colourful alternative to the mix last season. I still  ordered potatoes from John Mills at Eaglecreek farms and wrote all about it in my last post so go there for potato details.  If you want to see how I stretch my growing space by growing in bags and in wire fencing check out my youtube video here.

Brussel Sprouts: Easy to grow but remember these heavy feeders need lots of nutrients and also need their tops pinched  later in the summer so they form large side spouts for picking in late fall. I liked Hestia in the past but this year I am trying Long Island (Wildrose Heritage Seed.)

Broccoli: Helpful Hubby likes the big crown heads and last year I had a lot but they were all ready the third week of July. There is a new variety from Johnny’s this year called Monflor that I just have to try for its one-cut reputation. It has a loose head that is easily divided in the kitchen. Last year I grew Waltham  (West Coast Seeds) for its fine flavour and stocky growth but I am still looking for “the one” so am trying a new kind this year.

Melons: I grew amazing  Earlichamp cantaloupes last year and the grandkids were also impressed with my Jade Duchess Watermelons. But I am a fickle grower and this season I am trying Sweet Granite (70 days  from Johnny’s – it is open pollinated so I can save the seed if I like it) and their most flavorable type ‘Sarah’s Choice’. I am still thinking about watermelons. I have been changing up my front yard and there might be a place there.

Lettuce: I have been letting ‘Speckles’ – a really nice Romaine – reseed for some time in my lettuce patch. I also love the reseeded buttercrunch lettuce, ‘Kweik’. But this year I am stepping up and and because of Helen Chesnut – the garden writer for the Time’s Colonist in Victoria I am trying the Salanova Home Garden Mix (Johnny’s.) She loves it so why won’t I?

Tomatoes- what a nightmare of varieties. Everything from ‘Moneymaker’ (not good) to Hamlet (expensive but long lasting) have crossed my planting trays and heat mats. Last year the Purple Bumble Bee (West Coast Seeds) came into my life and because it is open pollinated I  saved my own seed.  I was still eating ‘Isis Candy’ (Renee’s seeds) in January and that was a coup so I’ll probably grow that orange cherry again. ‘Juliet’ hybrid (William Dam) is a regular favourite with it’s sturdy early production and excellent paste tomatoes but I added another paste to the mix with ‘Granadara’ (Johnny’s). ‘Climstar’ is listed as the best tasting cluster tomato suited to greenhouse growing. I have two greenhouses so why not some varieties bred for that? My friends Susan and Dawn also grow a lot of tomatoes and were looking for the best longkeeper: “We gave up on theWH Perron ‘Long Keeper ‘ tomatoes, they kept, and kept, but were never going to ripen.” I guess that’s something we all need to ask. Is it good enough to keep or do we want it to keep and taste good?

Dawn & Susan had high hopes for their Longkeeper tomatoes but have given up now. Photo by Susan Sharpe

HOT OFF THE PRESS! Renee’s seed just sent me ‘Tasmanian Chocolate’ tomato to trial this year. It is a rich sweet container tomato with abundant rich mahogany fruit. Sold. I will seed those in a month or so.

Okay lets wrap this really long article with my two favourite cabbages ‘Tiara’ (soft and early) and ‘January King’ because it really is super hardy. Oh and I can’t forget to mention a seed that appeared online so I randomly ordered it. I am talking about ‘Golden Sesame’ seed (Westcoast.)

I know I will add more varieties. Spring isn’t over yet. So stay tuned and follow along as I receive and start the seed from past and present years. PS My Utah celery from a previous year and ‘Conserver’ shallots from quite a while ago are up and growing already under lights.

And this year I added a brand new seed. Something I didn’t plan to order but then I just saw it and  I ordered Golden Sesame. Yes, in 2018 I will grow my own Sesame seeds. Are you excited yet?

An early February dinner included beets and butternut squash saved from my fall harvest as well as freshly grown micro-green peas and basil with a dab of orange olive oil. Yummy

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