my current favorites: Seed Savers Exchange, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Baker Creeek Heirloom Seeds, and The Maine Potato Lady

It’s that time of year for gardeners: dreamily thumbing through seed catalogs in anticipation of a new (and always better!) gr0wing season.  After a promising start, last summer’s heat and dryness (and attendant pests) were disastrous for our cucumbers,  squash, and lima beans, and very stressful for mid-summer tomatoes, although we had lots of early tomatoes and late-planted tomatoes did well in later summer.  In fact we were eating fresh tomatoes (ripened after threat of frost inside, wrapped in newspaper in a dark closet), well into December.  Most everything else did pretty well, and we still have quantities of frozen string beans, peppers, turnip greens, zucchini bread, and squash pancakes, along with garlic harvested in mid-summer.  Plus of course lots of canning jars of homemade jams, sauces,  and tomato salsa.

Potatos were our major new crop in 2010, and we got a little over four months of good eating of the four varieties we planted: Satina, Romanze, Carola, and German Butterball.   Our goal this year is to double the size of our potato patch and hopefully triple our potato production (Monika is German, you know).  This year’s varieties will be Satina, Sangre, Keuka Gold, Yellow Finn, and Kennebec.  Garlic was also a new crop (planted in fall 2009) and was quite successful too; we still have a reasonably good supply, despite the fact that we use and gave away a lot!  I planted this past fall several new garlic varieties, including Appalachian Red and Romanian Red, while continuing with Music and Brown Tempest, as well as Inchellium Red and S&H Silverstein, from bulbs harvested in early summer.  All but the last two are hardneck garlics, which we prefer since they produce fewer, but larger, cloves that are easier to peel (those supermarket bulbs with a zillion tiny cloves are softnecks).  Hardneck garlics also produce the edible garlic scapes which we enjoyed and wrote about this past spring.  Edamame (soybeans) also proved to be a welcome new crop.

This past year we also increased the variety of vegetable plantings for spring and fall; we especially enjoyed the mix of shell, snow, and snap peas in the spring, and collards, turnips and kohlrabi in the fall.  Since most fall vegetables will also do well in the spring, we’re planning to increase our spring plantings significantly.  Along with some heirlooms with curiously interesting names like Drunken Woman Lettuce, I’m also trying for the first time fennel, parsnips, and lemon grass.  Well, at least the seeds are ordered…..

In the fall we also planted 350 bulbs for daffodils, lillies, iris, and bluebells, which hopefully will add even more color to spring.

Monika’s and my other big project (for which she is the main initiator) starts with eggs, not seeds….but more about that later!

Click here for garden pictures from 2010