Monday, December 8, 2008

First Seed Catalog of the Season!

The first seed catalog came the other day. Thank goodness it didn't get tossed in the recycle along with the deluge of other catalogs that have been gunking up my mailbox. I've just had a flashback to when I was very young, this will date me, and the Sears Wishbook came. I pored over every page of the toy section wishing for stuff that Santa could bring me. Well, that's how I am now when a favorite seed catalog comes. Late yesterday, as the Mayacoba beans (from Rancho Gordo) were simmering on the stove for dinner, I plunked down on the loveseat in the kitchen (yup, just about in the kitchen), my honey presented me with a glass of wine, and I dove into the Fedco catalog.

I love reading this catalog. It's not one of those glossy things with lots of pretty tempting photographs, which are all too often misleading - just 'cause it's pretty doesn't mean it's tasty. (Not that I don't enjoy reading those catalogs too!) The Fedco catalog is old fashioned, folksy fun. It's full of fabulous drawings and graphics and lots of good information. Many of the seeds are organically grown and many of the seeds come from small growers and they do not sell GMO seeds. Actually, I think they don't sell any seeds, GMO or not, from companys that produce GMO seeds.

Fedco first came to my attention when I read about Piracicaba broccoli in an article by Barbara Damrosch. I had to try the broccoli, so as soon as their new catalog came out I ordered up, along with a few other goodies such as the Golden Chard that I've been enjoying for months now.

Anyway, I started by reading the letter to customers. One very interesting tidbit from that letter is that some varieties are not being offered this year because wholesalers could not find growers for certain crops. Why? Because of the ethanol boom. And, this lust for ethanol crops is also driving up the cost of seeds, not just commodities, but the seeds that you and I buy for our own gardens. Which brings me to another thing that I like about Fedco seeds, you can buy small quantities of seeds. I try to grow a little bit of a wide variety vegetables so I don't need big packets of seeds.

Well, I managed to keep my fling with Fedco pretty short. I skimmed over sections that I didn't need to expand my collection of. No beans, no corn, no peas, cucumbers, melons or squash. You would understand my ability to resist temptation if you saw my box of seeds! No carrots. Oh, beets, how about some of the Golden Grex. Rat-tail radish, gotta grow those again! No onions, spinach, lettuce, or greens. No wait, Asian greens - Senposai sounds good. No brassicas (plenty of Piracicaba seeds left), but... kohlrabi, can't resist the Gigante Kohlrabi. Celeriac.. haven't tried that in years.. Diamante Celeriac into the cart. Eggplant, I need to find an eggplant that will produce in my cool summer climate - give Diamond a try. No peppers. Aaah, Tomatoes, need to replenish the Aunt Ruby's German Green. Gotta try the WOW! cherry tomato that is better? than sungold and open-pollinated to boot. And one more, let's try a new paste tomato - Blue Beech. OK that's it. I placed my order last night before I could be tempted to add more. Besides, a couple of my choices were in short supply and the catalog urged me to order early!


  1. That looks like a lovely catalogue to read, with the pencil drawings. And it's great to be thinking about spring again already, isn't it! I'd be tempted to send another order later ... after your restraint!

  2. I remember the Sears wishbook, too! What fun it was when it arrived in the mail. I guess I'm that way with woodworking tool catalogs now.

    I'll have to order a copy of the Fedco catalog. I'm going to start some stuff from seed this spring and see how it goes. Any recommendations for "must haves"?

  3. Chaiselongue, it's actually a little weird to be thinking of spring right now. The weather has been unusually warm, and other than a chilly nights and shorter days, it hardly seems like winter!

    Susan, I'm going to have to think about that a bit, but off the top of my still not caffeinated enough head my two must always have tomatoes are Paul Robeson and Aunt Ruby's German Green.

  4. Okay, so I've looked up those two tomatoes, and I'm probably definitely going to try the Paul Robesons. I'm thinking about the Aunt Ruby German greens, but I also want to try Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifters, and I just don't think I could all the tomatoes from three plants (and I don't see me canning just yet). So I'll have to make a choice, I think.

    BTW--are those the German greens on your blog title? Very pretty!

  5. Those are German Greens on my blog title and they are even prettier on the inside. Paul Robesons are pictured on my November Tomatoes post. I would be hard pressed to decide which one I like better, but in terms of growing, for my climate I would do the Paul Robesons because they set fruit better when the nights are cool.

    As for other vegetables I can't do without... Cavolo Nero kale, always. I always seem to grow a sprouting broccoli, lately the Piracicaba and before that Di Cicco (Di Ciccio), nice because if you harvest properly they produce over a long period (2 years once). I fell in love with leafy amaranth a few years ago, green especially - it takes a lot of heat and tastes better than spinach (in my opinion). Super Sugar Snap Peas! Mild Habanero type chiles - nobody grows them for the market. Ok, I'll stop there. There's hardly a vegetable I've grown that I haven't liked.


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