It’s the beginning of January and everything seems fallow and sleepy. The garden is shivering through it’s second cold snap of the winter. The first came just before Thanksgiving and brought us temperatures in the teens and lots of snow (lots for Seattle, mind you: some places got 5 inches). The second we are enjoying now. I say enjoying because I’m sitting in a warm room with a hot cup of coffee and a veritable glut of seed catalogs.
We placed an actual order to Territorial Seed Company late last summer for our garlic, as opposed to buying seeds off the rack at the nursery. I think the seed catalog people must know when that happens (“Hey, Bob! Looks like we got a live one with big dreams and a valid credit card number here! Hook ’em and reel ‘im in!”) because right around Christmas the seed catalogs started marching in. Every day another amazing catalog arrived; it was as if General Burpee had ordered them to surround me and not back down until I agreed to give Treviso one more try.
I received: The Cook’s Garden Catalogue (their spelling – they must be classy) from Warminster, PA; Pinetree Garden Seeds from New Gloucester, ME; Burpee Gardening, also from Warminster (a lot of seed grown in Warminster, is there?); Abundant Life Seeds and Territorial Seeds, both out of Cottage Grove, OR, and I got TWO copies of Raintree Nursury’s Fruit and Ornamental Edibles Catalog.
These catalogs are all full to bursting with beautiful pictures and descriptions that make everything sound irresistible. But guess what, I’m going to resist. I’ve been spending these short winter days planning, inventorying what I already have and culling out the really old seed and the varieties I just don’t care for, and there’s very little I need. Because I keep my seeds cool and dry most of them will last several years longer than the seed packet indicates, so it’s foolish to spend money on seeds I don’t really need.
As fun as the descriptions of tomatoes and soy beans and corn sound in the East Coast based catalogs, I know there’s little chance that their selections will ripen for me anyway, so I stick close to home for my seed.
Territorial Seed is by far my favorite seed house, primarily because they conduct their own field trials in Oregon and can accurately report on how a given variety will really perform in the Maritime Northwest. I know if they say a tomato is early, it’s got a good shot in my garden even in a cool year. I know if they call a cabbage overwintering it can stand up to our coldest winters and persistent drizzle. The drizzle is the real trick – winter varieties bred for Northeast root-cellaring instead of Pacific Northwest in-ground holding will rot away or succumb to molds and mildews when confronted by our mild but long and wet winters.
So as I sit here with my coffee and my catalogs, it occurs to me that all the garden planning, calendar making and growing research I do to help make our little homestead in the suburbs fruitful may be of use to other Maritime Northwest gardeners out there as well.
Northwest Edible Life is about sharing the information I learn and the planning tools I develop for my own mini-homestead with like-minding folks. It’s about growing our own, cooking from scratch, enjoying our family and friends and trying to live a bit more consciously and a bit more slowly. It’s about my life, on garden time. I hope you’ll let me know what you think.1
I got here today from Nick's facebook post, and I just LOVE what you're writing! I feel like your last paragraph describes just the way we've been trying to live, too, so your blog is very inspiring.
Territorial Seed is the best–my order for this season just arrived Monday, and it was definitely hard to limit myself, though I did. 🙂 All those beautiful eggplants, and gazillions of types of specialty peppers…so hard to choose just a couple when faced with that catalog.
Looking forward to reading more!
Erica/Northwest Edible Life says
Thanks Saskia! You made my day, thanks so much for reading! Please feel free to share any tips or tricks you learn along the journey.
I'm so jealous of your order for all those heat lovers! You guys get enough sun for the eggplant I can only page past and dream of. ::sigh:: 🙂
Thanks again for joining in!
Check out this link for all kinds of seed porn http://www.williamrubel.com/online-vegetable-seed-catalogs.
Also a friend who is interning at The Herbfarm says they use Franchi seeds for what it's worth. They come in BIG packages with awesome colors. He is starting some AND he's going to share! Squeal!
Erica/Northwest Edible Life says
Thanks! I've been to the Herbfarm farm, but didn't know they were growing Franchi. I'll definitely give them a long look. I love the seed porn link! All my favorites are there, and a few houses that are new to me too – fun stuff.
I just pulled out a pile of seed catalogs and am getting ready to thumb through them. They're so gorgeous… and give me lots of hope for next years garden. Love the comment referring to "seed porn". HA! How true.
I just found your blog this morning through a Facebook link Meg, at Grow and Resist posted. I LOVE your blog and can't wait to read through it start to finish.
My husband and I live in Everett and we have very similar values. I absolutely love to garden, grow, harvest and cook. I'm so glad I found your blog and can follow along with your progress.
Jack Bartholomew says
I really enjoyed reading your blog and now I am eager to read more of your blogs. You are so smart. You were able to develop planning tools for your own mini-homestead. I am pretty much sure you have a wonderful garden.
Eliza Kay says
I just found this blog and I’m starting at the beginning and am really excited to read all the way through to today. Thanks so much for sharing all your wisdom and insight with the internet!