Gathering seeds

Old Japanese seed catalog cover

At right is a wood block print of Iris Kaempferi from the cover of an old, undated seed catalog from Yoshinoen-Garden in Tokyo, part of an online exhibit titled Mail Order Gardens exhibit at Cornell University’s Mann Library. Larger image.

I have a pretty rigid rule for winter activities: Order seeds before doing taxes. Do taxes before starting seeds. That’s the only way that I can make sure I get my taxes done on time. It also keeps me from starting my tomatoes too soon.

This year, I decided to really use the Vegetable Varieties website I help out with at work. We’ve got more than 5,000 varieties described there (along with seed sources), and more than 1,500 registered users visiting the site to rate and review what works for them (and what doesn’t).

The process forced me out of my comfort zone. I ordered less from my favorite companies, and I tried a few new ones. We’ll see if the recommendations and reviews offered by other gardeners on that site pay off with a better veggie garden this year.

I’ll paste my variety list below. It doesn’t include a handful of varieties I picked up in behind-the-scenes trading. And I usually by some tomato starts locally, as we’re blessed with greenhouses in the area that know a lot of folks around here are looking for something out of the ordinary.

On the flower front, for the first time in a decade or more, I’m refusing to even open a single perennial catalog. That stack of porn is going to sit unread this winter. Oh, I may break down and look at the pictures should winter linger too long here. But I’m putting a moratorium on plant orders to try to focus a little more on what I’ve already got in the ground.

There are a few morning glories I’m lusting after, so I’ll break down and order a few flower seeds. And I’ve still got my North American Rock Garden Society seed exchange order to place, which will give me a couple dozen more plants to check out. But like the block print above, I’m going with a minimalist approach this season.

Gotta get those flower orders taken care of so that I can move on to taxes.

Here’s this year’s veggie seed list. Any suggestions? Let me know. Or better yet, let everyone know through the Vegetable Varieties website.

Artichoke Imperial Star
Asian greenYukina Savoy
Beans Molly Frazier’s White Cutshort
Beans Cherokee Trail of Tears
Beans Romanette
Beans Jumbo
Beans E-Z Pick
Celery Afina Cutting Celery
Chard Bright Lights
Collards Champion
Cucumber Poona Kheera
Cucumber Suyo Long
Cucumber Northern Pickling
Eggplant Swallow
Kohlrabi Gigante
Leeks Tadorna
Lettuce Cracoviensis
Lettuce Green Deer Tongue
Lettuce black seeded simpson
Mache Verte de Cambrai
Melons Green Nutmeg Muskmelon
Okra Burgundy
Onions Crimson Forest
Pak Choy Mei Qing Choi
Peas Sugar Snap
Pepper Melrose
Pepper bull nose
Pepper Aconcagua
Pepper Hot Paper Lantern
Radishes French Breakfast
Spinach Tyee
Squash Zephyr
Squash Costata Romanesco

Flower music

Part of one of the Art of Horticulture projects (see post below) involved flower and garden lyrics. This is the first song that came to my mind (after David Mallet’s Garden Song, of course).

Dead Flowers

Or if you must have Mic, here’s live Stones version.

Some others:

More to come.

Update 1/15/2008: Most of those YouTube links were lost in the Great Viacomm Purge. But my favorite is back:

Can’t make it here anymore

I know it’s a garden blog. But I wanted to practice embedding You Tube video. Besides, this is my favorite angry song.

That’s James McMurtry. Paints a pretty good story, like his dad, Larry. Saw him open for Nancy Griffith in the Twin Cities circa ’88. David Bromberg was in his back up band. Quite a night.

Even more powerful acoustic version.

Or if you want something really angry (and beautiful), try Bruce Cockburn’s If I Had A Rocket Launcher.