2013 Seeds

A is for…

Amaranth. Burgundy. The burgundy amaranth is a beautiful bold red. You can eat the leaves in salads and in the fall harvest the seeds, or let the birds eat them—which is my plan. I’ll be planting sunflowers and amaranth in the chicken run for beauty + function.

B is for…

Beans. Lots and lots of beans. Red Swan, Empress and Soleil for fresh eating. Soleil is my favorite. Yin Yang, Tiger’s Eye, Etna and Jacob’s gold for dry beans. This will be my first dry bean year!

Brassicas. Winningstadt and Gold Acre cabbage, Broccoli Raab and Baby Bok Choi.

C is for…

Corn. Golden Bantam for fresh eating. Apparently Golden Bantam can be frozen right on the cob. Black popcorn for…popcorn!

Cucumbers. Bushy. Screw parisian pickling. ‘Bushy’ has “short” vines of 5’ long.

E is for…

Eggplant. Japanese Long and Black Beauty.

F is for…

Flowers. The only flower seeds I bought this year were a flower called Bee’s Friend and California poppies called Mikado. I’ll plant these, as well as various zinnia’s and marigolds I have, sunflowers, Datura, Love-in-the-Mist, borage, nicotina and nasturtiums. The sunflowers and borage will be in the chicken yard.

H is for…

Herbs. Bushy Tetra dill. Florence fennel. And all the regulars: thyme, chives, and basil: Genovese and Globe.

K is for…

Kale. A favorite of mine. Tuscan and Red Russian.

L is for…

Lettuce (and greens). Bronze Arrowhead. Green Oakleaf. Mizuna. Arugula. Flamingo chard. Orach.

M is for…

Melons.  Sakura’s Sweet: Goldenyellow softball-sized fruits. Flesh is fun to eat, very sweet and crisp. Golden Midget: An outstanding little watermelon, with golden yellow rind and salmon pink flesh. Ha’Ogen: A true cantaloupe with superbly sweet and spicy green flesh. Noir des Carmes: Sweet, aromatic, orange flesh; flavor is complex and deeply satisfying.

O is for…

Onions. Yellow Borettana cipolini, Evergreen Bunching. King Richard Leek. Italian Red of Florence Scallion.

P is for…

Peppers. Candlelight. Cayenne. Hot Portugal. Feher Ozon Paprika. Ancho Gigantea. Aju Crystal. Santa Fe Grande. Bulgarian Carrot. Pasilla Bajio.

R is for…

Root vegetables. All American Parsnip. Detroit Dark Red Beet. Red Ace Beet. Purple Top White Globe Turnip. Rapa di Milano Coletto Turnip. Plum Radishes. Yellow radishes. Dragon Carrot. Imperator Carrot. Red Core Chantenay Carrot.

S is for…

Summer Squash. Cube of Butter: ‘succulent and delicious with creamy white flesh’. Low growing open bush habit.

T is for…

Tomatoes. Gold Medal. Green Zebra. Black Krim. Nyagous. Moonglow. German Pink. Isis Candy Cherry.

Tomatillos. Toma Verde Tomatillo. Purple Tomatillo.

W is for…

Winter Squash. Burgess Buttercup. Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato Acorn Squash. Waltham Butternut. Rouge Vif d’Etampes. Potimarron. Delicata.


Meanwhile, back at the mini’stead

We’re in the dregs of February. Probably one of the most bleak times of the year. Cold, grey, and no green in sight.

But if you’re a green thumb, a real, hardcore, DIY’er gardener—February is when you finally get to bust out your seeds and start getting dirty.

I’ll give myself a little bit of credit, last year was one of my better years. My seeds to plants ratio was probably one of the highest ever. My peas and peppers were astoundingly plentiful. But every year has its successes and failures. I want a farm and I have to admit, my backyard overwhelms me.


Last year was my first great success with peas and my absolute biggest failure with tomatoes ever. Great winter squash, terrible melons—but I don’t even like melon. Pretty lame green beans and my idea of making cornichons was a total bust. Excuse me, if they don’t ripen at the same time how the hell do you make it work? One cornichon at a time? The French would.

Lessons for this go around? Don’t plant sunflowers in the middle of the bed. They were stunning but made everything significantly more difficult and more shady. Same goes for the borage. 2012 was the year of the flowers I guess. Well, 2013 is all about greens and cultivating an allium bed. And tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

But there is only so much that you can start in February.

So, I put together two trays. Alliums: cipollini, leeks, red + white scallions. Brassicas: winngstadt + golden acre cabbage, broccoli raab, baby bok choi. Black + long eggplant. Herbs: Fennel, dill, thyme. Flowers: nicotina, datura, love in the mist. And some greens: Orach and amaranth.

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The calendar at Skippy’s Garden is the one that I’ve used for several years now.

5/10 is a reasonable last frost date for the area, but I am moving a little ahead of the game—the winter has been relatively mild. And if nothing else, in my experience, a little extra time is good when it comes to peppers, tomatoes and eggplant. I’ll pot them up into larger pots before the final transition to the garden. My official planting calendar is based on a 5/2 last frost date.

From my sources, I hear it is supposed to be a long, cool, wet spring into early summer. Not ideal to warm your bones, but it is great for brassicas and greens, so I am giving baby bok choi, broccoli raab and cabbage a shot.

I love working in the office and looking at the little dirt-babies getting ready to grow. Look at that glowing happiness: