Seeds bought this spring…so far

The vegetable patch at the beginning of July, 2012

These are the seeds which made their way into my virtual shopping cart from all over the Internet so far this spring. I decided to share them with you so we’d both know what I’m planting this year. Some are for the vegetable garden. Others are flowers that may go in the back garden, or maybe in the vegetable garden. I have a thing for sunflowers and zinnias, especially in my veggie garden. They make me smile.  I’ll also divide them into cold season crops and warm ones. All of these are in addition to seeds I already have from last year. Tomato seeds seem to live forever if you take care of them, so I keep them for years.

Part of my potager, summer 2010.
Colorful tomato cages in my potager during the summer of 2010.

Franchi:

Cold Season
  • Chard (Bieta) ‘Blonda Di Lione’ is a beautiful white stemmed chard with light green leaves;
  • Pac Choy (Cavolo Cinese)
  • Spinach (Spinacio) ‘Merlo Nero’
  • Lettuce (Lattuca) ‘Franchi’
  • Lettuce ‘Parella Rossa’
  • Mache (Valeriana) ‘D’Olanda a seme Grosso’
  • Broccoli rabe or raab (cima di rapa meaning turnip top) Not sure why this translates to turnip top, but there it is.
  • Radish (ravanello) ‘Gaudry,’ the cutest little red and white radishes.
Warm season
  • Green beans (fagiolo nano) ‘Boby Bianco’
  • Green beans ‘Purple King’
  • Cucumber (cetriolino) ‘Beth Alpha’
  • Tomato (Pomodoro) ‘Fiaschetto di Manduria,’ a determinate variety that does well in dry conditions.
  • Tomato ‘Marglobe’ because I love this Indeterminate heirloom.
  • Eggplant (melanzana) ‘Violetta Lunga’ meaning long purple. I love eggplant almost more than squash.
  • Melon (melone) ‘Retato Degli Ortolani’ is like a cantaloupe, but isn’t. Supposedly good with parma ham.
'Picnic' watermelon not ripe.
‘Picnic’ watermelon not ripe.
Flowers
  • Cobaea scandens, cup-and-saucer vine or cathedral bells ‘Rampicante Mix’ meaning climbing mix, I think.
  • Celosia cristata multicolor. I’ve developed a love for dark red celosia. I hope to select some from this mix and keep refining them.
Winterbor kale in an early spring garden.
‘Winterbor’ kale in early spring garden

Chilterns:

Cold Season
  • Calabrese (sprouted broccoli) ‘Green Magic’ Must have been in a broccoli mood since I also bought broccoli rabe above.
  • Beetroot leaf ‘Blood Red’ bought mostly for color, but I’ll eat it too.
  • Orach ‘Scarlet Emperor’ bought for color.
  • Mache ‘Large-leaved’ wanted to test this against the Italian variety. I’ll probably start these in cold frames this week.
  • Chinese kale ‘Kailaan’
  • Pak Choi ‘Canton Dwarf’ I like pak choy and bok choy a lot. Maybe too much.
Warm Season
  • Basil ‘Queen of Sheba’
  • Holy basil ‘Purple Tulei’
  • Thai basil
  • Dill ‘Tetra’
  • Lemon Bergamot
  • Capsicum (Pepper) ‘Hungarian Black’
  • Aubergine (eggplant) ‘Ronde de Valence’ For some reason I have two packets of this. Hmmm.
Flowers

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds:

Cold Season
  • Parsnip ‘Half-Long Guernsey’
  • Snap Peas ‘Sugar Snap’ I find snap peas easier to grow in our unpredictable springs than shelling peas.
  • Swiss Chard ‘Flamingo Pink’ How could I resist?
  • Kale ‘Scarlet’ Although I love ‘Toscano’ or ‘Dragon Tongue,’ I already have seeds of these. Plus, we like to make kale chips and find the curly kale to hold the seasonings better.
  • Rutabaga ‘Collet Vert’
  • Lettuce ‘Beleah Rose’ 
'Forellenschluss' lettuce
‘Forellenschluss’ lettuce
Warm Season
  • Tomato ‘Solar Flare’ from Wild Boar Farms
  • Tomato ‘Carbon’ one of the best tasting dark tomatoes out there.
  • Tomato ‘Yoder’s German Yellow’
  • Tomato ‘Break of Day’
  • Pepper ‘Chiltoma Grande de Ometepe’
  • Squash ‘Rugosa Frivlana’ We’ll see if this lumpy squash is resistant to squash bugs. May grow squash in the cold frame this year to ward off squash bug damage. However, if I do I’ll need to hand pollinate.
  • Squash ‘Lebanese White Bush Marrow’ I have no idea why I bought this seed.
Panicum 'Northwind', 'Blue Boy' bachelor's buttons, Rudbeckia 'Irish Eyes'
Panicum ‘Northwind’, ‘Blue Boy’ bachelor’s buttons, Rudbeckia ‘Irish Eyes’
Flowers
  • Bachelor’s Buttons ‘Blue Boy’ Never grow a garden without it. Silver leaves and blue blooms.
  • Amaranth ‘Molten Fire’ Although it’s a grain, I grow it for the leaves and flower heads.
  • Hollyhock ‘Black Currant Whirl’
  • Nicotiana ‘Scentsation Mixed’ It smells good.
  • Zinnia ‘Burpee Rose Giant Cactus’
  • Zinnia ‘Illumination’
  • Zinnia ‘Mazurkia’

I will work to find enough places to grow all of these zinnias. I can see that many will end up in the vegetable bed. Franchi and Baker Creek were the clear winners in number of packets. It was probably very cold in Oklahoma the day I ordered. I bet we even had snow. Some women shop for clothes to get endorphins. I’m a plant/seed shopper, and February is the cruelest month in Oklahoma.

Although some of these are listed as warm crops like the tomatoes, basil eggplant and peppers, I’ll be starting those seeds inside by the first week of March. I promise you a seed starting post then. In the meantime, check out this one on seed starting at my 20/30 blog.

Before you start a vegetable garden

Blueberry shrub in fall--Dee Nash--Red Dirt Ramblings

Everyone’s mind and searches are on vegetable gardening right now. Those seed catalogs are like the Sirens’ song, aren’t they? Before you start a vegetable garden, ask yourself a few questions beyond which vegetables are easiest to grow.

Sometimes, long-time gardeners act as though you should know exactly what to do right out of the starting gate, or they pretend that gardening takes some kind of magic potion to be successful. While magic happens from the very act of growing things, learning how to grow is like learning any other craft. Rarely, does someone know how to knit, crochet, cook or even keep their homes without learning some of it beforehand. Here are some questions that should be asked before you ever buy that packet of seeds or potting soil.

What do you like to eat? The Ruby Red Swiss chard, shown below, is one of the most beautiful vegetables you can grow. However, if you can’t abide the taste of Swiss chard, don’t grow it. Start with things you like to eat and try one new vegetable, herb or fruit each year. As you taste what comes from the work of your hands, your palette will also grow. You may find that you love beets or turnips  because you harvest them when they are small and at the peak of perfection.

Swiss chard and red fountain early last spring. Before you start a vegetable garden
Swiss chard and red fountain in early spring

When I was a child, my father loved turnips cooked with fresh ham hocks. It was kind of sweet, and pinkish brown and white and gross. I grew up thinking I hated turnips, but someone told me I should grow them before I wrote them off. After harvest, I steamed them with a bit of butter and salt and pepper. What a revelation! I love turnips now because I can harvest them when I want–small and tender. My youngest daughter loves radishes. I’m convinced it’s because we grew them from the time she was small. Radish seeds are one of the best vegetables for children to sow because the seeds are rather large and can be sown directly outside. Plus, radishes grow so fast. Great for small people with even shorter attention spans. Radishes are nearly foolproof. So are green beans.

My youngest daughter holding radishes
My daughter holding radishes

Where does the sun shine? Vegetable gardens need six to eight hours of sun to do their best. In uber-hot years, southern states like Oklahoma may need some shade cloth during the heart of summer, but most gardens beg for a sunny spot. One exception to this rule is lettuce and other greens. You can often grow them in a bit of shade. In fact, in hot climates, they appreciate it.

Sad little sunflowers blown over by the storm last night.
My large vegetable garden is in full sun all day. This was in early spring, and the row covers were to stop squash bugs. They didn’t stop them, but they did slow them down a bit.

Is water nearby? This is probably the most important question. If you don’t have water close to your garden, it will not thrive in Oklahoma or other hot climates. In fact, you simply must water a garden in most places in the U.S. because it is a continental climate. Before you buy seeds and potting soil–if you’re using containers–plan for water. You need easy access to water whether it’s Netafim drip irrigation, or a spray nozzle. Where you grow has a lot to do with the way you’ll water too. Think about where the sun shines. Will you be growing on a patio that has in shade at least part of the day? Is your garden in full sun? These are important questions.

I dip my small watering can in the buckets and use it to fertilize the cuttings and other plants in the greenhouse.
Watering cuttings in the greenhouse. A good reminder that water is essential for all living things.

How big? Like hungry children at a buffet, seed catalogs and early spring make it easy to overindulge when it comes to gardening. Above, is my large garden, but I don’t suggest it for beginning gardeners because it is too large. It’s very easy for things to get out of hand. Start small with containers, or raised beds and have a simple plan. Below is the rough draft of the balcony plan I drew for my book.

Draw a quick plan and label what you're planting there. Not only does it help you decide where things go, you will find it easier to rotate what grows in the pots. Dee Nash--Red Dirt Ramblings
Draw a quick plan and label what you’re planting there. Not only does it help you decide where things go, you will find it easier to rotate what grows in the pots.

Here is my potager–kitchen garden–in early spring. See how tidy it is? Well, the next photo is at midsummer.

Another view of the potager in spring.
Another view of the potager in spring.
Potager at midsummer
Potager at midsummer

It may seem overly simple, but plants grow. As they grow, they take up more and more space. So, try not to over plant and start small.

So, these are the questions I consider whenever I plan a new garden bed, whether it’s for veggies or sun-loving ornamental plants. What have I missed? What are the things you think about when planning a new garden space?