Friday, December 15, 2006


For a plant nerd like me, seeds have a slightly magical quality. You drop this tiny speck or wrinkled pebble in the ground, and, with any luck, you get something delicious or beautiful. Or both. Poring over seed catalogs is fun, but it can be a little exasperating too, because every variety sounds fabulous. And you know they're not.

So this year, I opted for the Medium Heirloom Package (Northern Selection) from Baker Creek. Sixty five dollars sounds like a lot at first blush, but check out what I got for it:

Plant Variety
--------------------- --------------------------------
Amaranth Opopeo
Arugula Arugula
Basil Dark Purple Opal Basil
Bean Royalty Purple Pod
Bean Old Homestead (Kentucky Wonder)
Beet Early Wonder
Broccoli Romanesco Italia
Brussels Sprouts Catskills
Cabbage Henderson's Charleston Wakefield
Carrot Kuroda Long 8"
Carrot St. Valery
Cauliflower Green Macerata
Celery Thai Bai Khuen Chai
Chicory (Grumolo) Rossa Di Verona "Aida"
Corn (popcorn) Lady Finger
Cowpea Purple Hull Pinkeye
Cucumber Parisian Pickling
Cucumber Lemon Cuke
Cucumber Lemon Cucumber
Eggplant Diamond
Eggplant Applegreen
Endive De Louviers
Fava Bean Broad Windsor
Garden Berries Ground Cherry (Strawberry Husk)
Greens Wrinkled Crinkled Cress
Greens (Oriental) Tatsoi
Greens (Oriental) Michihli Cabbage
Lettuce Tom Thumb
Lettuce Rouge D'Hiver
Melon (American) Minnesota Midget
Melon (Asian) Sakata's Sweet
Okra Star of David
Onion Flat of Italy
Parsnip Harris Model
Pea (snow) Mammoth Melting Sugar
Pepper (hot) Tam Jalapeno
Pepper (hot) Cayenne Long Thin
Pepper (sweet) Golden Cal Wonder
Pepper (sweet) Mini Red Bell
Radish Scarlet Turnip White Tip
Radish Long Scarlet
Rutabaga American Purple Top
Spinach Bloomsdale Long Standing
Squash (Summer) Zucchini-Gray
Squash (Summer) White Scallop
Squash (Winter) Delicata
Squash (Winter) Black Futsu
Sunflower Mammoth Grey Striped
Swiss Chard (rainbow) Five Color Silverbeet
Tomato Wapsipinicon Peach
Tomato Tigerella
Tomato Marmande
Tomato Black Prince
Tomato (green) Lime Green Salad
Tomato (orange) Patio Orange
Tomato (orange) Golden Jubilee
Tomato (pink) Eva Purple Ball
Tomato (red) Sub-Arctic Plenty
Tomato (white) White Tomesol
Tomato (white) Snow White
Turnip Purple Top White Globe
Watermelon Orangeglo

There are a lot of varieties here that I know almost nothing about. And some plants I know nothing about. Having somebody pick "favorites" for me is a bit liberating, and while I'm sure there'll be some misses, both in the garden and on the dinner plate, it'll be a lot of fun to see what we get.

Each seed pack has between 25 and 800 seeds, and each seed is, potentially, something edible. Sometimes a large quantity of something edible. (And its own seed source to boot!) To stop and think about the food potential there is a bit mind boggling to me. To think about how I'm going to get all of these things planted, and what goes where is a bit mind boggling too, actually.

Luckily, I have all winter to work that out!



At 12/16/2006 10:53 AM, Blogger Madcap said...

Good heavens! You're going to need all your acres for that project! When do you usually plant?

At 12/16/2006 11:42 AM, Blogger e4 said...

Yeah, that was about my reaction too when I opened the package. I mean, I knew it would be a lot, but actually seeing and touching them all is another story.

I can see a few of the more ornamental ones, like the purple basil, making their way into the flower beds around the house, hopefully to self-seed. And I doubt I'll get every variety planted. But I've got four 4x50 foot and three 4x8 beds prepped and ready for spring. And I've got some soil block makers and an Earthway seeder. I'll see what I can do.

Our last frost date is about the first of May, so that'll be the busiest time. I suppose I'll be starting quite a few inside as early as March, and some outside as late as June. It should be an interesting spring...

At 12/16/2006 11:18 PM, Blogger JBTW said...

Happy planting!

At 4/02/2007 12:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there:
I too am a northern gardener (Oregon Territory) and a patron of Baker Creek. As a small farmer/seed saver, I've tried some of the varieties in your B.C. mix-'n-match. I thought I'd share my knowledge with you, but you'll have to forgive me if I'm preaching to the choir. You seem to know a lot about growin', so bear with me.

I'm a fan of Sakata's Sweet melon, though you shouldn't expect anything resembling what they offer in the supermarket. It's small, crisp and sweet with an edible rind--try it with a squeeze of lemon.

Speaking of limones, the lemon cuke is a winner, but it produces slightly later than other cukes. However, when it gets going, look out! I grew so many in '04 I managed to revive my pitching arm firing buckets of them into the biggest Douglas fir on the property. That's Oregon-style composting for you, and the jonquils at the base of that ole tree ain't never been more narcissistic.

The black futsu is alright, though I must admit I tried it mostly to relive my misadventures in Japan. The flesh is slightly stringy and the ribs are inconvenient for eating. It has the helpful habit of rooting at the nodes, which makes it more resistant to pests. I don't have many pests here in the middle of the forest, but I bet being a midwestern farmer presents you with various insectivorous and microbial headaches. Oh yeah, the futsu keeps really well but it takes on a chestnut color and a natural dusty cloak as it ages.

This is your blog, not mine, so I'll cut it short. I suggest that you wait for your husk cherries to fall from the vine before eating them and plant half your purple podded beans much earlier than you think prudent--you'll be glad you did.

If it's not too late, I'd like to take some of that spinach and sunflower seeds off your hands--just enough of each to try. If you're interested in a seed swap, email me at
I've got some varieties that might work in your bioregion.



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