House & Home

View from the Garden: A Hill of Catalogs Promise Summer Splendor

The glacial field on my roof that formed weeks ago is beginning to recede. The snow pack from higher on the roof is raining off of the eves and the icicles are almost gone. Feeling pretty sure that there will actually be a spring this year, I ordered seeds and bulbs for spring and summer planting. I usually order them much earlier but, oh, that snow de-motivated me until now.

Before beginning, I cleaned my files and desk. I do this as part of my preparation for the upcoming year and after sorting the piles on my desk from last year, I have found the client lists of vegetables and plants for this year. Then these lists must be broken into other lists, each for a specific catalogue.

I get many seed, bulb and plant catalogues. As they come, I discard any that I know I will not use, keep the tried and true and maybe one or two new ones that look interesting.

For as many years as I have been vegetable gardening, I have used Johnny’s Seeds for most seeds. The selection is huge and varied. Each variety is accompanied with detailed growing instructions and plant descriptions. They have organic, non-organic, heirloom, and hybrid seeds, plus new items each year. They also have my two favorite green beans: Fortex, a very tasty pole bean and Jade, a delicious bush bean.

But one of the greatest things they have is pelleted seed: carrots, beets and lettuce. Pelletizing carrots and lettuce seeds solves the problem of trying to plant very tiny seeds and often getting the whole package into a very short area because the wind blows at just the wrong time. It eliminates the need for thinning. The best thing about pelletized seed is that it is easy to space the plants perfectly, making those beautiful rows. One can get very decorative…rows of lettuce alternating red and green, etc.

When I had access to a greenhouse, I grew peppers, eggplants, tomatoes and flowers from seed. It was very rewarding and also allowed me to grow varieties not available here as plants. Now I order plants from Territorial Seed Company. The plants are shipped from Oregon but arrive in very good shape. They are always of a good size. They have a large selection of tomatoes—mostly heirlooms, peppers, sweet and hot, eggplant and herb plants. This year they have a new group of tomatoes called Indigo Series. It has been developed using open pollinated techniques. Most of them are cherry-sized. They begin very blue and ripen to dark red. Very beautiful tomatoes and even better for you than red ones!

I ordered from the Natural Gardening Company this year for the first time. It is my experimental catalogue this year. I found zucchini, shelling peas and gherkin cucumbers that were new to me. I ordered cilantro that claims to be slow bolting…oh, I would love that! And I will try their tomato plants.

After I think I have ordered everything, I check my lists and always find things I missed and need to add to existing orders. Record and keep your order numbers.

The first seeds have already arrived…it took only three days. Plants are scheduled according to planting times.

I also ordered gladiolas, oriental lilies and a calla lily as an experiment. It is supposed to be hardy to zone 7 but I will mulch it very well this fall.

A rose that was back ordered last year will arrive this spring.

I can see that the snow is melting, but that has happened before and then—wham-o—more snow. Still, I will remain optimistic!

Jeanelle Myers is a professional gardener, landscaper and consultant. For gardening discussion you can call her at 631-434-5067. jeanellemyersfinegardening.com

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