Winter Work

Snow flurries outside, a cup of joe and seed catalogs spread ’round inside

Well, on Monday it was actually snowing, but now it’s settled back to the more usual rain.  Either way, the weather’s just dandy for sitting indoors around a big table and poring over the seed catalogs – as fine a work as any could be.  Here at this table the garden is unfolding in all its perfection, challenged only when the first seeds hit the soil and Reality intrudes on the fantasy.

OK, even here it isn’t all fantasy.  After a few rounds over the years one does start to gain the power of imagination, so it is impossible to get too caught up in the wonder (and expense!) of seeds without also having the helpful mental brakes of “Where am I going to put all this stuff?”  Also the mental powers of imagining and pruning start to grow together, so instead of buying lots of cool seeds and never growing some and not eating some other things that have gotten grown, crops instead get not grown or not eaten in the mind right at the moment when the eye latches on to some new, colorful picture of, say, the latest pepper, and the thing never gets ordered.  That’s helpful and economical.

Not to say I don’t like experiment.  At the Noble Rot, and to a lesser extent in my home garden, if I’m not at least a couple % new crops, then I don’t feel like I’m fully doing my job, so I still get to keep some of my inner shopper happy and get some new things, but mainly it’s the tried and trues.  What’s hardest is when I have to cut something that’s really great, but just doesn’t fit it to the high-pressure, high-turnover world of the rooftop garden.  This year I am mourning the loss of Happy Rich, which I wrote about in a previous post (see March 2011 Sprouting Broccoli).  A broccoli/gailon cross, it produces wonderfully sweet side-shoot-like stems which are bound to make broccoli converts of anyone whose lips they pass, but alas, the inability to get a really “meaningful”  quantity in a limited amount of rooftop real estate has doomed it.  That and the aphids that occasionally had their way.  But there’s the goodness of the home garden – it’s a shelter for all that is rejected in the high-stakes Noble Rot gardenscape.  So I’ll grow it at home.

I am deep into Johnny’s, my favorite seed source, but also very partial to Territorial, which is our local seed company out here.  After those two, which constitute the bulk of my order, it’s just an item or two from a specialty house, and this year I’m working on my own cherry tomato, RedSun, which I think is almost stable enough (hint, hint – dehybridizing the hybrids, in this case Sungold) to grow reliably up on the roof.

Hope to have the seed order done by end of January, and this weekend when I have a little more time to work on it, I’ll post some more thoughts on the process.

Any favorite seed sources to recommend?  Weigh in!