Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Settling Into January

Edward has found the old chair in the sunny space we call the 'dressing room.'

Monday's photo of the amaryllis--I forgot to take one today.
The salmon/orange color is a surprise--I thought it was meant to be more pink and white.

When I opened our mailbox yesterday it was stuffed with seed and nursery catalogs.
Before December ended we had received several--the old stand-bys--Guerney's and Shumway, a few that cater to market growers, a greenhouse supply catalog.
Guerney's and Shumway are deliberately printed in a vintage news-print format.
I've never ordered much from either--they tend toward oddities and some older seed varieties with testimonials of astonishing yields.
I find it interesting that seed companies still bother with the expense of mailing out paper catalogs.
I have ordered the bulk of my seeds online for more than a decade.
I may browse my favorite of the seed suppliers, marking varieties I would like to try, then using the catalog to help place an online order.

My late MIL ordered many of her seeds, especially flowers, from Park Seed Company.
I followed her practice although Park's seed pkts were often more expensive than others.
The seeds were of high quality,  packaged in tightly sealed foil wrappers, often with tiny seeds encased in a thin envelope inside.
Harris Seeds was a favorite supplier of vegetable seeds, as they specialize in varieties that performed well in our former New England seasons.

I received my first catalog from Select Seeds during one of our final seasons in Vermont.
The focus of this grower is old-fashioned flowers--those which can be hard to locate from other sources.  Some of the loveliest plants left behind in Vermont years ago--and in my ill-fated Gradyville garden--were those carefully nurtured from this company.

I am not ready yet to begin a list of seeds and plants for 2016.
I feel strongly that our gardening efforts need to be scaled back to a more manageable lay-out.
Growing good tomatoes here has been a challenge, disappointing in results.
I think I'm over potting up dozens of tomato seedlings when we have several good sources in the nearby Mennonite garden centers.
We need to consider how much a household of two can consume in fresh produce as well as how much is reasonable to 'put up.'
The kicker is always our insistence that home-grown is healthier than veg and fruit raised to commercial standards.
We have mentioned cultivating blackberries again--perhaps this time we would opt for the thornless  variety after battling bristling canes for the fruit in our Gradyville garden.
We long for a small greenhouse to extend the season.
I crave raised beds to spare my creaky bones.
Hopefully our time and energies will be freer this summer to devote to gardening.
Meanwhile, January has brought us night time temps below freezing and mornings sparkling with sunshine on frost. 
I am inspired to create 'comfort food'--soups that can simmer on the wood stove, muffins plump with blueberries from the freezer, baked potatoes. 
After the rush of house renovation, the bustle of guests, a slower pace is welcome.


  1. I have to say, I am looking for a smaller garden when we move. It would be nice to have fewer of my hours tied up with working hard in the garden all summer long. I get my David Austin rose catalogue each year, and for years after mum died, received bulb catalogues that she had bought stuff from. I just look online now, like you. The catalogues I used to get would tend to be on the pricey side too and the young plants I once sent for, requesting no delivery until spring because I had no greenhouse, arrived as pricked out seedlings in January and all died.

    Are you planning a greenhouse definitely then? I hope for a permanent one when we move. Although after 7 years on the market, I do wonder if it will EVER happen - it took the market 10 years to start recovering after the last housing crash back in the early 90s.

    Ah yes, comfort food is definitely the thing this weather. With this cold, I've had little appetite though and haven't felt in a baking mood for ages.

    1. Jennie; How I wish I could state that a small greenhouse would be 'definite.'--we've even dragged along some of the components and the actual project has remained 'on hold.'
      I have usually been satisfied with plants ordered--one exception being the yellow peonies which I ordered in 2011 at hefty price--they came as barely rooted slips which didn't flourish.
      I wish I could pop over with soup for your cold and some muffins to tempt your appetite!

  2. We've been getting seed catalogs too. I usually buy locally or order \ fava beans from Territorial Seed Company in Oregon.

    1. Janet; I have never planted fava beans--I'm thinking they might be an acquired taste [?] Gardeners here plant something called 'greasy beans' which don't look at all appealing. We settle for a spring and late summer planting of bush green beans.
      Territorial Seed Company does have interesting offerings.

  3. Every time I see your patchwork pillow, I think I need to get to work on. We order our seeds from Pinetree Gardens, I find they are the cheapest and we always have good luck with them. Plus it is one of the few companies that isn't affiliated with Monsanto. We ordered some antique apple trees from R.H. Shumway last year and were very happy with them. One even produced fruit within months of planting.

    1. Jane; I have also been pleased with the offerings of Pinetree Gardens. I haven't rec'd their catalog yet this year. One concern when I spread my orders around various seed companies is that I spend quite a bit in postage.
      We didn't have as good results with our fruit tree venture as we hoped--the local extension office recommended a bewildering succession of sprays, we tried to read up on pruning--and of course when we moved it ended that experiment.

  4. We get few seed catalogues nowadays and stock up on seeds from our local nurseries or garden centres. I`m intending to do better with salad greens this summer but haven`t time for too much gardening. Last year we had a good tomato crop from a blight resistant variety, so I`m hoping to try that again.

    1. Ann; We have yet to find a tomato variety that is impervious to blight--discouraging. We expect that with a small greenhouse we could raise 'greens' almost year round.
      The local Mennonite-owned nurseries offer many heirloom varieties of plants and seeds as well as the more conventional ones.

  5. Hi Sharon, I'm glad you stopped by- I had lost your link. I will put you on my blog roll so I don't lose you again. I love getting the seed catalogs and I save them for all the interesting bits of information and colorful graphics. I like to decoupage. My dream is a greenhouse, too, just so I can grow tomatoes and salad veggies year round, and start flower varieties I can't find at the nursery. It's nice to dream about the garden this time of year. Last year I didn't have time to do much gardening, so I hope to catch up this year. You let things go one year and the weeds take over, so I have my work cut out for me! I'm looking forward to see what you plant this year. x Karen

    1. Karen; I've not been good about leaving comments during the past year, though I've continued to visit my favorite blogs. Photos of your home always look warm and welcoming--a treat when I am weary from our on-going renovations.
      Over the years I have started many flowers from seed which would never appear in local plant offerings. I am still, after 6 years in KY, learning what will flourish in our hot and humid summers. Several favorites, such as Lady's Mantle and Delphinium wilt away never to reappear. I've been relying on annuals--cosmos and zinnias--to fill in the gaps and extend late into autumn. Weeds! Unstoppable!