Saturday, February 20, 2010


Late January and early February tend to be pretty dreary in these parts.

The sparkle and excitement from the holidays is gone, and the days are cold and bleak. We've been lucky so far this year - just a few smatterings of snow, really, but by day two the pure white wonder of new fallen snow has turned a dingy, dirty gray, thanks to the sand and salt used to treat the roads.

I was leaving work one night recently, my usual time (5:01 P.M.) and I noticed something different....the sky was still light on the horizon, all purpley and orangey. Funny how it hits you all of a sudden: The days are getting LONGER! And suddenly you realize that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. Spring is slowly but surely sneaking up on us.

It was dark by the time I got home - I have a half hour commute, so I watched as the sky slowly darkened as I made my way home. But even though there was blackness above me as I pulled into the driveway, I still felt light and happy, giddy with anticipation of spring's arrival.

And it was for good reason...when I walked into the house, I found I had gotten mail. Just like that fateful day when Ralphie finally gets is Little Orphan Annie Secret Society Decoder Pin, the package I had been yearning for (um, for like, 4 whole days....) had arrived...

"My Baker Creek Seeds have arrived! Come to me, my precious....."

Yes, I had ordered a few packets of seeds from them last year, and lo and behold a couple weeks earlier a beautiful catalog arrived in my mailbox. And I was totally seduced by the glossy photographs, the cheerful descriptions of each item that screamed to me subliminally, "You know you want me...No one else on this street has some Jaune d'Or Ovale radishes." Not to mention, the thought of "heirloom" seeds, nothing genetically modified, no "frankenfoods".

OK, I don't even LIKE radishes, yet I found myself trudging towards the computer, glossy-eyed, arms out-stretched in front of me...."Yes, Master...."

I mean, just look at these!

And don't get me started on the tomatoes...
Virtually every color of the, pink, purple, yellow, green, orange.

Striped, spotted, plaid...
Just kidding... they're still working on plaid.

Oh, and blue. No blue, yet! But I did order those Striped Romas in the lower right corner of the page.

Melon, anyone? Look at these....

And squash...
I am MOST excited about a few bush varieties of squash they offer...bush buttercup, bush zucchini. My puny little garden can be so overrun with those greedy vining plants that both my squash and my other veggies usually suffer.

Wait, instead of showing you the whole catalog here, I'll just post a link at the end of this entry so you can come over to the dark side with me and start your own wish list! Come on! We can all dream about growing fields of Amaranth, eating the leaves and grinding up the seeds into amaranth flour! I was going to use my coffee grinder, but wouldn't it be cool to build a mill, with a water wheel and redirect a river through your yard and mill your own flour?!?

Then I realized I have just under a quarter-acre of land...including where my house and driveway sit. And half of what's remaining is the front yard, my husband's domain, where he crawls on hands and knees with tweezers and scissors, tending to his grass. My back yard garden is currently....6' by 10'? Amaranth will have to stay on my wish list for now...

ANYWAY! As a little public service announcement, I thought I would share with you the dangers of browsing fabulous heirloom seed websites in February.

This is what was in my package...

Wait, let me organize them for you.

I can barely fit them all on the table, yet somehow I want to cram all these plants into a 8' x 12' plot of land?

Better get the pick axe, honey! We need to expand!

Did I mention my husband's idea of a vegetable is a potato? He's going to hate me....

Nine...yes, NINE...kinds of tomatoes!

Four kinds of peppers...soon to be six, when I add jalapenos and bell peppers.
Pak choy and spinach and fennel and purple cauliflower...these are a few of my favorite things!

Oh, did I mention rutabaga and dragon tongue beans? Seduced by the beautiful artwork on the packages....

And despite the fact that I have very rocky soil and no luck with root crops, I couldn't resist golden beets or little carrots.

And I like lima beans...LOVE fava beans.

And herbs, glorious herbs!
Including, four types of basil...two Thai varieties, lime basil and normal basil. I also scored some slo-bolt (yeah, we'll see about that!) cilantro, dill, parsley, oregano and another one I am somewhat excited about, summer savory. Luckily, most of these herbs will be residing someplace other than the aforementioned 10' x 16' plot of earth, like in pots on my deck or an empty patch of dirt above a retaining wall.

(Wait a it my imagination, or is my garden ... growing?)

Anyway! I refuse to admit I overdid it. Instead, I can't wait to get those seeds started and stick my hands in the earth. More importantly, I can't wait to taste that lime basil, slice up those striped romas and pluck buttercup squashes from a bush.

And if you'd like to join me in my madness, go visit the wonderful folks at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

If you dare.... :)


thamesarino said...

As I type there are still mounds and mounds of snow on the STREETS that are taller than me. We got hit with so much snow this year. This post just made me incredibly twitchy(in a good way)! I LOVE browsing through the seed catalogs!! You know you actually have a pretty big space for your garden. I think that you can fit that all in there! : )
My sister and I once did a garden in 12X12 inch plots(because we had NO SPACE, maybe a 2X6 foot strip garden) and we were able to get an amazing amout of produce from it. It took a bunch of planning(I know there are books about it out there, maybe called square foot gardening?) ...but it was truly amazing! We even managed to get corn in there!! :) (ok not a lot of corn but we had 2 close rows and got enough to have it with a few dinners)
I am so jealous of your spread of seeds, they look so inticing.. I am absolutely NOT going to follow that link to the catalog... my marriage has just been getting better! ;)
Do you start your seeds indoors? ... or wait until the weather permits? just curious... I love to lose myself in gardening, but know that this year I will probably be to occupied with my new little one to give my garden the love and attention it needs.:(
So maybe this year I can live vicariously through you? I hope you'll post LOTS of pictures!! :)

5thsister said...

Oh what fun! Yes, I guess it is time to start thinking about our garden. My plot is similar in size (8x12) and we over did it with 6 tomato plants, 6 cucumbers, 6 zucchini, a row of corn, 3 watermelon, 3 cantelope, 12 varieties of peppers and a couple of rows of carrots. The melons didn't make it except for 1 cantalope, and neither did the corn. We had a few peppers but by far the most successful were the tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and a few zucchini. Oh what to plant this year...that is the question.

Anonymous said...

LOL...looks like you went a little seed crazy! I want to start a garden SO BAD,but damn my lack of a yard!!! All I have is a balcony, so I'm going to try to at least do some containers. Can't wait to see your garden!!

ChristineM said...

@Thamesarino - This year I'm starting quite a few plants from seed - we got hit with a horrible blight last year - all thanks to storebought plants (fungus spores in the dirt they were potted in), so I'm doing as many as I can from seed! I'll be starting my trays in a couple weeks. Some things do better being planted straight into the ground - root veggies, cucumbers and squashes. I dug out my old "square foot gardening" book and I think I can fit everything in! ;)

ChristineM said...

@5thsister: Just plant everything, like me! LOL! Actually I remember your garden - was that your first? You did very well!

@ MrsW: I did only pots on my deck for a couple years when Grace was a baby - it's surprising how much you can grow like that! I even did cucumbers in a big, deep pot with a trellis stuck in the middle! Got lots of smallish, but delicious, cukes that year!

Gracey said...

I am crazy jealous of you! I have the blackest of black thumbs. I hope everything in there takes and grows beautifully.

ChristineM said...

Hi Gracey! I hope so too! I seem to have much better luck with outdoor gardening than I do with houseplants, so I'm trying to be optimistic!

Anonymous said...

Well, I did it...I requested a catalog. Have you heard of The Cooks Garden? They have a pretty good catalog too...go to Now I'm just adding to your seed madness :)

Chicago Mom said...

I just noticed the sky getting lighter earlier and staying lighter later too! Isn't it wonderful?! Come on Spring!
I have been drooling over seed packets too, but I have not bought any yet. Lime basil? That sounds amazing!

brian said...

gardening can be fun.

i enjoy planting seeds and watching my garden grow!