It's been fun going through the seed catalogs. I've placed a couple of order and have only a few more types of seed to buy. Mostly I bought flower and herb seeds because I have, in the main, seeds for most of the vegetables I want to grow this year. Weather forecasts for our area indicate another cool and dry summer, which tells me we can expect more hard freezes around the end of June again. I will be buying lots of Agribon 19 row cover and plan to keep most of the garden covered.
I did buy several tomato seed varieties that I like, and a couple of short season varieties that I will be evaluating. I like to buy tomato seeds from Tomatofest. I bought Italian Tree, Wisconsin 55, Rutgers, Cherokee Purple, Elmer's Old German, Large Red, and Mortgage Lifter. Seeing as we are in another Depression that is worse than that of the 1930's, I thought growing Mortgage Lifter was appropriate. Tomatofest gave me a free packet of Orange Plum, so I will see how that grows. The cool season varieties will grow in the field under low tunnels and the warmer weather varieties will grow in the high tunnel.
I placed a seed order with my favorite seed company, Horizon Herbs, and bought wild dandelion, aconite (aconitum napellus), yarrow, vervain, comfrey, and two poppy varieties. I'm looking for Breadseed Poppy seeds. (My great-grandmother used to sprinkle Breadseed Poppy seeds around the farm buildings during Easter Week to ward off vampires and evil spirits -- not that that is what I want to do; I want to grow Breadseed Poppies just because Great-Grandma did. Make it a family tradition, you know what I mean?)
From Heirloom Seeds I ordered some replenishment seeds for varieties I already have -- I want to increase the genetic diversity of what seeds I have saved -- and some nice flowers for a fairy garden. I did break down and buy from Jung's some Bohemian Horseradish roots and Victoria rhubarb crowns as well as some Mammoth Red Mangels seeds. (I don't like Jung's customer service and I think the quality of their products has deteriorated over the last couple of years.) I thought I would try growing Victoria rhubarb crowns because the McDonald rhubarb I bought Johnnyseeds is just not growing well here. Many of the people I know who have rhubarb, have the Victoria variety and complain they have too much of it! I wish I had that problem. And my horseradish bed is not doing very well either, but I know that is because it needs manure. I am sure the bed will take off after I throw a couple of bags of manure on it and plant the new roots. I had no trouble selling the roots I offered at the farmers market and am sure I will have no problem selling any horseradish I make.
As far as vegetables go, because of the weather forecast for the year, I plan to concentrate mostly on cool weather and root crops -- lots of carrots, beets, rutabegas, potatoes and onions; then spinach, collards, peas and various greens; and under cover will be the tomatoes, squashes, cucumbers, and beans. I only plant one variety of corn at a time and plan to grow some Painted Mountain to see how it likes this locale. That, of course, will go out in the field.
I expect the hops to do well again this year. I'm of two minds about expanding the hops section. I have nine plants now, three each of Williamette, Cascade, and Nugget. I ask myself, do I want to increase the planting and find a micro-brewery to sell the hops to, or do I want to just use the hops for home brewing and crafts as I originally intended? From what I'm reading, micro-breweries are looking for good hops from local growers here in Wisconsin. I know my hops are organically grown even though I'm not organically certified, and that they are good quality. I'll have to think about it. I had planned to put the medicinal herb garden in the now empty portion of the hops section. Hmmmm.
I have to admit I'm looking forward to having flowers. I never was one for flowers -- growing flowers didn't seem practical when food is more important, but after growing the calendula last year and seeing how nice it and the Mammoth Russian Sunflowers looked in the garden, I guess I've been bitten by the flower bug. I certainly know that flowers sell very well at the farmers market, too. We'll soon find out what kind of thumb I have for growing flowers.
I'm going to try some spring barley this year along with planting my usual oats, wheat, and peas. I'm hoping to get a grain storage bin built where I can put the mature grain and feed it cracked to the chickens next winter. I really don't like buying chicken feed as mash; I much prefer the grains cracked. The chickens don't seem to have any trouble eating cracked grains and actually seem to eat less. Anyway, I plan to grow the mangels for winter feed, too. We'll see what I wind up harvesting.
Well, I have to go take care of Lara, so I'll talk to you later. Please stay warm and be careful in this terrible cold weather!