February 27, 2014


Last spring's starts

The weather this week has been in the fifties, with a few perfect, sunny days. The smell of warming earth is heady and hopeful. My garlic is already up three inches in the starter pots in the greenhouse and five inches out in the garden. I like Rocambole (hard neck) types of garlic and have chosen German Red and Duganski varieties to grow this year. The radishes have already sprouted in my containers in the greenhouse, with spinach, arugula and cilantro close behind.
Ever since January, the seed catalogs have been filling up the mailbox like crazy, much to my delight. The x's and circles proliferate until I just know I have to cut down and get real! It's so hard to choose! I also save seeds from previous seasons so I have my own stock to grow on. 
I run a sustainable living group on Meetup called Urban Farmers and for the last two years, we've had seed exchanges in late winter. The beauty of it is that you can share your extras with others and get seeds in return, for more variety than you could have in buying everything yourself. I mean, not many of us are going to plant 25 pumpkin hills, right? After the seed swap, I am all set! Some unusual varieties to try this year, including some Dutch brown beans called Kapuciner beans. They're a small, brown, wrinkly bean used as a dried type. I've seen them for sale in Europe, but never here. The man who brought them is from Holland and these seeds are sixth generation. He included a recipe with each packet! He also brought seeds for "feldsalat" also known as mache or corn salad. Another thing that one has to grow in the U.S. if you want to eat it. It's a common leaf green in Europe and I eat a lot of it when I'm there, but it isn't yet available much for purchase here. 
This year, our raised beds will be built and the field will get partially plowed so, in addition to the greenhouse, I'll have good growing areas outdoors. With the drought in California seriously threatening general produce supply, it's more important than ever to try to be as self-sufficient as possible. Besides, it's hard to beat the satisfaction of seed - to plant - to harvest when you do it yourself. And the taste ... well, no contest! 
Okay, spring...I'm ready! What will you be growing this year? 

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