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ORDERING GARDEN SEEDS
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Ordering Garden Seeds is one of my favorite annual rituals. It’s such a treat to open my mail order delivery of garden seeds this time of year. Looking out the window at piles of snow as far as the eye can see, you just seem to need a bit of cheering up. And this season, I’m paring down the amount of work I need to do, while still reaping as much reward as possible.
“Brandywine” Tomato is my variety of choice. It is a heavy producer, and the taste is matchless. A variety known as “Caspian Pink” has occasionally beat out “Brandywine” in taste test competitions, but it does not produce nearly as many tomatoes. Both are heirloom varieties, so you can save the seeds to plant next year.
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GROWING ASPARAGUS FROM SEED
“Mary Washington” Asparagus seeds will be sown here and there among the tomatoes. I’ve heard of people digging right down into their existing asparagus bed to plant tomatoes, because they are said to get along well together. When the tomatoes are finished producing for the year, I’ll clip the tomato plants off at the top of the ground, and the young asparagus plants won’t be disturbed at all.
Rather than buying garlic bulbs, I ordered a packet of garlic chive seeds. The plants will be beautiful in the flower border, and rather than having to dig garlic, just take your scissors out into the garden with you, and snip off as much as you need. The flavor is milder than that of ordinary garlic, which can be rather eye-watering.
Scallions are a great substitute for onions, which will often taste way too strong. I’ve been told that the variety known as “Evergreen” can be left in the ground all winter, and you can save the seeds to plant next year. I like the idea of “perennial” onions, so I plan to try to overwinter a few.
This year, I sought out garden seeds that would do “double duty.” Instead of ordering cabbage, turnip, and cauliflower seeds, I ordered kohlrabi. It tastes like a mild combination of cabbage and turnips, plus you don’t have to dig them at harvest time. They can be boiled, baked, added to soups, or even served raw in salads. Try cutting them up and serving them as crudité with dips. The leaves can be cooked like “greens.”
I also ordered zucchini seeds. This veggie can be baked, roasted, fried, cut up raw to put in salads, or served with dips. The leaves can be cooked like “greens,” and the blossoms can be stuffed and fried. And let’s face it, Zucchini Bread is hard to beat. One thing you need to know about zucchini: You must be diligent about picking them. Due to this, even an extra 24 hours on the vine and they will be big as canoes.
Does anyone remember the “zucchini milk” craze back in the 1970’s? You peel them, scoop out the seeds, and whiz the pulp up in the blender to make “milk.” This can be used as a substitute for milk in recipes, even in desserts and puddings. I wouldn’t try drinking it, though, because it couldn’t possibly taste like the real thing.
Lastly, I’m starting climbing nasturtiums, and not just for their beauty. The blossoms and the leaves can be added to soups, sandwiches, and salads. Be sure to soak the nasturtium seeds in water for at least 24 hours before you plant them, or they won’t germinate. They also make a great ground cover to fill in those odd little “nooks” in your flower border.
Garden seeds usually keep at least 2 years in plastic zip lock bags in the refrigerator if you don’t use them all.
HAPPY PLANTING! Susan