Monday, February 7, 2011

Starting Veggies from Seed

I'm glad it's February. That means spring is next month! I've been enjoying the winter. I've done some wintery type things like snowshoeing and evening walks to admire Christmas lights, but now I'm excited for longer days and more time outside. I've already noticed bulbs emerging from neighborhood yards! I've seen buds coming out of trees and I hear the birds chirping in the morning. Ok, so I'm probably jumping some guns here but one thing that is not too early to do to get ready for spring is think about starting vegetables from seed. This is a new thing for me. Despite the name of my blog, Eat What You Grow, I've grown very little in the way of vegetables. I've grown some herbs but most of my local food comes from farmers markets or produce stands. Living in a city apartment had its disadvantages but I have an excellent south facing window, porch, and small section of yard to play with and so I begin.

I've decided I don't want to start with just any seeds, I want heirloom seeds. These seeds have been saved and traded for generations and have not been modified by big companies. How exciting! I ordered a seed catalog from Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit organization that has been a national leader in preserving and distributing heirloom vegetables, herbs, flowers, and plants. They are preserving our nations garden heritage. Revenue from each seed packet supports the organization's mission to preserve genetic diversity. I thought I'd share with you some of the varieties I'm going to order, just because they are so cool.

Chioggia (Beet)

Pre-1840 Italian heirloom, introduced to the U.S. before 1865. Name for a fishing town near Venice. Uniquely beautiful flesh has alternating red and white concentric rings that resemble a bull's-eye. A feast for the eyes; wonderful for fresh eating and pickling. Packet (100 seeds) $2.75.

Bull Nose Bell (Sweet Pepper)

Grown at Monticello by Thomas Jefferson and listed in 1863 by Fearing Burr. Crisp fruits ripen from green to red with an excellent flavor. Productive sturdy plants. Packet (50 seeds) $2.75.

Dragon's Tongue (Bean)

The Dutch wax bean has large 6-8" cream-colored pods with vivid purple stripes that disappear when blanched. Pods are stringless, wide, and exceptionally crisp and juicy. Packet (50 seeds) $2.75.

Blondkopfchen (Tomato)

(aka Little Blonde Girl) East German heirloom obtained by Seed Savors Exchange from Gatersleben Seed Bank. Small golden-yellow 1" fruits borne in giant clusters, excellent sweet taste. Enormous yields and rarely a cracked fruit. Packet (25 seeds) $2.75.

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