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Starting Seeds

April 20, 2011

Norman A. Plate via Sunset Magazine

‘Tis the season for seed starting! I look forward to gardening more than any holiday, probably because I still put months of thought and dreams into each gardening year. It starts in January when the first seed catalogues arrive – I spend hours pouring over all of the descriptions, circling dozens of varieties. Usually in February a clean set of catalogues show up and I go back through and decide I can’t grow 25 kinds of tomatoes and 12 kinds of squash. I’m the kind of person who is easily seduced by the descriptions of vegetables – Seed Savers is the worst by far. This is their description of ‘Amish Paste’ tomato: “First listed in the 1987 SSE Yearbook by Thane Earl of Whitewater, Wisconsin. Commercialized by Tom Hauch of Heirloom Seeds, who acquired it from the Amish near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Bright red 8-12 ounce fruits vary in shape from oxheart to rounded plum. Delicious flesh is juicy and meaty, excellent for sauce or fresh eating. One of Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste varieties.” Johnny’s and Stokes tend to be much more terse in their descriptions, tending more toward marketability and processing.

I do always try and grow a few new things every year though. This year I’m trying out raddichio (Treviso), a purple Italian sprouting broccoli (Santee), and an extra-early tomato (New Girl). I’m also going to try and grow lettuce and salad greens separately rather than a standard mesclun mix. Here is the final list:

Lettuce and Greens:

  • Seed Savers Exchange lettuce mix
  • ‘Astro’ arugula
  • ‘Trevisio’ radicchio
  • ‘Space’ spinach
  • Johnny’s elegance greens mix (asian greens, mustard greens, and broccoli raab)
Tomatoes
  • ‘Amish Paste’ (This has been a consistently amazing producer for me)
  • ‘New Girl’
Brassicas
  • ‘Toscano’ kale
  • ‘Santee’ broccoli
and The Rest
  • ‘Old Fashioned’ corn
  • ‘Scarlet Nantes’ carrot
  • ‘Jackson Classic’ cucumber
  • ‘Burpee’s Golden’ beet
  • ‘Bull’s Blood’ beet
  • ‘Blue Lake’ pole beans
  • ‘Calypso’ cilantro
  • ‘Genovese’ basil
  • ‘Potimarron’ squash
  • ‘King of the North’ bell pepper
What are your old garden standards? What new varieties are you trying this year? What are you still searching for? Leave comments!
I’ll leave you with a picture of the ‘Amish Paste’ harvest from two years ago.
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6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2011 8:03 am

    Wow. Your tomatoes are HUGE! We’ll have to try that variety next year. I’m starting seeds for the first time, and I think I started too late, and with too little light. Oh well. live and learn!

  2. April 21, 2011 9:32 am

    really, that is the biggest tomato i’ve ever seen. how do you stake, do you stake them? and are they delicious???

    • April 21, 2011 9:37 am

      I grow them up strings! I have electrical conduit that sits on metal frames about 7 feet above the ground. Each tomato plant has 3 strings attached to the conduit that hang down to the ground. Once the plants are big enough, I trim each plant so that it only has 3 main stems. As they grow I tie them to the string (or just wrap the string around the stem), and pull off any suckers growing off the plant. They get at least 7 feet tall! I also feed them with fish emulsion or concentrated organic fertilizer every few weeks.

  3. tburit permalink
    May 30, 2011 6:00 pm

    ALEXIS! you are the person i wanted to blog. your energy, your thoughts, all very welcome additions to my days. last night i slept in the same place for a third night in a row– a record since mid-april. if my life wasn’t like this, i would want what you are describing: it is wonderful to me, your descriptions are exciting, and your enthusiasm important. i started reading at the beginning here, and have to post already: GREAT WORK! i will be keeping up with you guys and i can’t wait to see the place. T

    • Meliburg permalink
      September 17, 2011 4:50 pm

      Agreed, I’m very excited for the read. My wife and I are on a similar journey in central Montana. Thanks for sharing

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