I just had to note how impressed I was regarding my order from Territorial Seed Company. I placed my order on Tuesday night and just received my seeds today. Usually, I expect seed orders to arrive in two weeks, sometimes more, even if I order online. They don't pack any auxiliary information with their orders, just a packing slip and the usual garden related ads. Even so, the service is impressive.

Looks like I have a company to add to the regular list.

Also, I mentioned before that they specialize in organics, but they also have biodynamic seeds, which I've not seen any other catalogs carry. For those who are unaware, I've mentioned this method of agriculture before. It was developed by Rudolph Steiner, who was also responsible for Anthroposophy (a splinter of Blavatsky's Theosophy) and Waldorf education. It's essentially organic and treats the farm (or garden) as an organism. According to the Wikipedia entry, it has never been shown to substantially differ from other organic methods. Some of the preparations are just plain weird, like yarrow blossoms stuffed into deer intestines and buried underground.


Seed Orders

I just finished my seed orders last night.

From Burpee:
Carrot "Danvers Half Long"
Cucumber "Picklebush"
Hot Pepper "Jalapeno"
Tomato "Big Mama Hybrid"
Tomato "Bush Big Boy Hybrid"

From Johnny's Selected Seeds:
Eggplant, "Rosa Bianca"
Sweet Pepper, "Carmen (F1)"
Green Onions, "Evergreen Hardy White"

From Territorial Seed Company:
Pole Beans, "Blue Lake"
Buttercup Squash "Discus Bush Buttercup"
Carrots "Mokum"
Spinach "Space"

From Pinetree Garden Seeds:
Basil "Italian Large Leaf"
Potatoes "Dark Red Norland"
Shallot "Bonilla"
Onion "Copra (F1)
Acorn Squash "Cream of the Crop"
Pumpkin "Orange Smoothie (F1)"
Zucchini "Eightball (F1)"
Cucumber "Homemade Pickles"
Tomato "Early Girl (F1)"
+ a couple packets of mesclun, Pinetree Lettuce Mix and Misticanza

While I tried to stick with my list of must-haves, I ended up with another tomato hybrid (I couldn't resist the huge paste tomatoes), as well as squash and cucumber (the extras of which will likely go in pots or get planted in empty spaces throughout the yard).

This is the first time I've ordered through Territorial Seed Company. I really liked their catalog. The prices were reasonable, and they had lots of interesting specialty plants, along with heirlooms and mainstay hybrids. Also, they sell a lot of open-pollinated and organic seeds.

And while I have looked through a couple Johnny's catalogs, this is my first order with them. Like Vesey's, where I ordered last year, they're oriented mostly towards market growers, offering dependable hybrids at reasonable prices. Their catalogs alone are wonderful references on when and where to plant what.

One difficulty I had was finding varieties of pumpkin and winter squash that can be grown in 2'X2' space. There are only so many bush and semi-bush varieties, which greatly limited my selection.

In order to fulfill my goal of maximizing yields throughout the season, I ended up tossing out the rotation I had been following and thought more about what could be grown next to what and in what conditions. So carrots and onions go together, with early, mid, and late season varieties to fill out the year. Cucumbers go with their squash relatives, and eggplants go with peppers and potatoes. I'm going to fill certain dead spaces with flowers and herbs, seeds leftover and saved from last year.

I'm limited in how early I can plant things out because my boyfriend and I will likely be vacationing in Europe in early April. Everything has to be planted indoors in February and March, or planted outdoors in late April to May. Once I figured out a planting and harvest schedule, this wasn't too difficult. The dates for the trip are not quite set in stone yet, but we are planning on staying in Paris and Berlin, roughly 5-6 days each. I'm hoping the parks in Paris will give some inspiration, along with a possible sidetrip to Versailles and Giverny and some forests near Berlin. I know we'll be missing some lovely countryside in the rest of France, but hopefully a train ride through Germany will make up for that?


The Coming Year

It's almost time to order seeds again. Last year I waited too long to start seeds and didn't time plantings as well as I should have, but this year arrives with knowledge from lessons learned last year and some new ideas.

Carol at May Dreams Garden has written a couple of blogs on the subject of ordering seeds from catalogs that I found insightful and interesting:
How to Read Seed Catalogs Without Going Mad
Understanding Seed Catalogs

I see of few of the same catalogs in my stack in those photos. Pinetree is a wonderful company. I find their catalogs a bit odd to navigate, but their prices are amazing and they have some really unique ethnic varieties and heirlooms.

Since this is the time of year for setting goals, one of the major goals in my vegetable garden is to produce higher yields and a more regular supply of fruits and vegetables throughout the growing season. In the front garden, I would like to add more perennials and find some interesting (yet still cottage-y and not too exotic) sun/shade annuals to fill the dead spaces. The south garden needs to be filled out as well, and I've already got a few herbs that can be transplanted once the frost fades in April.
Other goals include:
The planting of blackberry or raspberry bushes (since we don't have the space and light conditions for fruit trees);
The building of a coldframe from old windows and wood;
The building of our grotto from salvaged cement, stone, and glass;
Laying stone along the border of irises on the northside.

Lots to do. I can't wait!