Oh goodness! The Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Catalog arrived mid-December and I have been very good about only looking through it a couple dozen times. I've held out much restraint but you might not see me for a week or so. This is my favorite time of year. Seed catalog time. ::Swoon::
It contains 100s of varieties, full color pages, and spread after spread of delicious veggies. More than anything, it contains possibilities. If I wanted to only grow heirloom gourds, I could. If I wanted to invest 50 dollars in kohlrabi, I could. If I merely had the desire to grow a dozen different types of rare tomatoes from all over the world, I could. I don't plan on doing any of these things, but the point is, I could. Perhaps one year we will go crazy and decide to grow celeriac, or European melons, or cow peas, or possibly Celosia and Cockscomb. I have no idea what any of these are, but I could buy the seeds for all of them!
As it is our little victory garden is going to stay pretty much as normal as possible. We have learned quite a bit in the last three years of gardening for food and at this point have a pretty good handle on what we want to grow. But, I still LOVE to look through the seed catalog.
So, next year the list looks something like this:
Carrots - St. Valery
Peas - Lincoln (Homesteader)
Pole Beans - Old Homesteader (Kentucky Wonder)
Spinach - Giant Winter
Celery - Tendercrisp
Cabbage - Brunswick
Pumpkins - Amish Pie
Zucchini - Cocozelle
Tomatoes - Amish Paste, Brandywine, Illinois Beauty, Super Choice
By experimenting with a couple of different varieties each year we are nailing down what we wish to keep as good old standbys and what we still want to experiment with. As the tomatoes go, we grew Manitoba, Mortgage Liter, Brandywine, and Arkansas Traveler last year. I wasn't overly impressed with many of them, though they all did just fine. It might have been the year: late cold, a few weird rains, and an Indian summer lead to a strange year last year. The Brandywines we are going to try again as they seemed to hold the most possibility.
The garlic is already in the ground and going well. The spinach might just overwinter this year and be good to go for the spring. We will see. It is still going strong right now. The collards have held on for three years running. Not a single one has died on us. Jules also wants to try potatoes again. He rather likes digging them up to see what we grew. The carrots, peas, beans, spinach and pumpkins have all been varieties we've grown before and found to love. They are prolific, reasonably fuss free, and have great flavors.
I do know that we need to experiment with a few more things that grow in the winter months. This year we are going to attempt cabbage and celery. Perhaps in a couple more years onions, beets, and a variety of squashes.
This year it will look something like this....All of the beds are 9x4 feet, with the long 2 1/2 x 12 foot beds lining the fence. One 2 1/2 x 12 foot bed isn't pictured because it would make for a ridiculously long picture that would be rather pointless. All it holds is garlic. The small squarish bed is 5x4 and the triangle I have no clue about. We only have the triangular bed to help really delineate a nice pathway from the backyard gate up and around the covered back porch. As it stands, this covers half our backyard and provides us with a significant food supply. It took a bit of math, but I have figured out that by having eight of the 9x4 beds we can adequately rotate the crops so that none of the same families will be grown in the same beds for at least 4 years.
We usually drop about $50 into seeds and that leaves us with enough that we have leftovers. In this way, we try to keep a safety net of seeds in the safe just in case. By saving bean, pea, and spinach seed, we get a second round of each in the fall from just one packet. This year I hope to experiment with saving tomato seeds. Yes, I realize being excited about this makes me a nerd. At least I'm a well fed nerd.
Bell Bell supervises this process and gives her final approval of all seed choices. She does this while guarding the computers surge protector against possible intruders. She is such the amazing multitasker that she makes such dangerous and straining work look easy.