I’ve been excited for fellow blogger Barbara and her lovely and varied vacation from her vacations – a kind of fantasy in fantasy land, eh? Well, I’m happy to report my venture into Fantasy Land today ………….. which – while not as exciting as Barbara’s – started in late November when the first of the 2011 seed catalogues started to drizzle in. A few more trickled in through December, and by early January, the mailbox held a deluge of these fantasy-making beauties.
In early November, I’d read one of my favorite books of the year (maybe an all-time favorite; I’ll have to do my favorite books list soon, and see what others have to add to it) – Truck, by Michael Perry. Here’s a fellow earth traveler who appreciates the inherent hope in a seed catalogue, along with the often, ensuing disappointment. Perry says that “Seed catalogs are responsible for more unfulfilled fantasies than Enron and Penthouse combined.”
Every year I get so excited as I pore over the seed catalogues. “Look honey,” I’ll exclaim to Michael, “We can grow this next year.” And, often, it’s some odd – but beautiful … or interesting ….. little vegetable that just won’t flourish – okay, it won’t grow! – in Montana. Still, I don’t give up hope, and, finally succeeded (after many many years) of harvesting a handful of okra pods last year, and I’m even more hopeful this year.
To aid in fulfilling my fantasies, Michael built a small, solar-heated greenhouse last fall. I like to think he built it just for me, but I think he has a few fantasies of his own.
I was so excited by the possibility that this little building presented that I planted some radishes and lettuce late last fall. They flourished! Until the temperatures dropped to the minus twenties in December and the barrels full of water, to provide a heat sink by soaking up the sun, froze solid, bulged, and then wobbled like Weebloes.
I satisfied my fantasies the past few months, though, by drooling and dreaming over the seed catalogues. Here are some samplings.
I have two favorites, though – Abundant Life Seeds and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Both of these catalogues preserve and sell rare, endangered, and heirloom seeds, and the catalogues, for me, are just so artful and creative.
Baker Creek has great photos, and even recipes:
They’ve even got pictures of satisfied customers from all over the world (including from as far away as Turkey) who have used their seeds. This guy’s from Bakersville (CA?), and he grew a 40 lb. watermelon:
I’m also especially fond of Vermont Bean Seed Company. As the name suggests, they sell mainly beans, but also offer other vegetable seeds as well. In past years, we’ve grown the heirloom Brown Dutch beans, Yin and Yang, and the Peregion beans from them:
In truth, the Brown Dutch taste the best, but I love the others because they’re just so darn beautiful, especially the Peregion (on the left) – they remind me of little river pebbles. And the Yin and Yang – well, the name says it all:
And my fantasy today? I planted a little row of spinach, mesclun lettuce mix, and radishes in the greenhouse. It just felt like planting hope! And maybe this summer? I’ll be as successful at growing peter peppers as I was, last year, at finally getting some okra.