Saturday, March 21, 2015

My Favorite Seeds

We start most of our garden produce from seed. Not indoors, but direct sowing some seeds as soon as we can get in the garden. Our attempts at indoor starting usually ends with non-germinating seeds, dead plants from a lack of water or, if they survive, spindly, leggy plants. Best to let Mother Nature take control.

Cold hardy greens, peas, radishes and spring onions are planted in March. Many of the other seeds we'll plant in May, just prior to the frost free date. Tomatoes and peppers are purchased as starts at our local greenhouse and planted after all danger of frost.

Below are a couple of my favorite plants we grow from seed. Many aren't available as starts or some seeds can only be found in catalogs. I have to give a shout-out to Johnny's Select Seeds. They're our seed purveyor of choice, with a huge selection for both gardeners and market growers.

Best spring sight! We'll direct sow these into the garden - some as early as March.

I've noticed some greenhouses now carry tomatillo starts. When we first started growing, they were a rarity. Tomatillos are super easy to grow and very prolific. Be aware: if left in the garden or added to the compost, seeds can winter over. We use tomatillos to make green salsa, which in addition to being a tasty dip with tortilla chips, is a great topper for chicken enchiladas.

We've been growing red broom corn for several seasons (best corn shocks ever). Broom corn is a variety of sorghum that is traditionally used to make brooms. I have friends who feed the seed heads to their hogs, but we just use it for fall decorations. The stalks are tall and strong and stand up to wind better than traditional shocks. FYI - the seed heads attract birds. Can't wait to mix the varieties this year!

Radishes are a sign the gardening season is open as they're usually the first food we harvest. D'avignons are long and slender with a crispy, not-to-peppery bite. I especially like them on vegetable platters as they're more functional than globe radishes when it comes to dipping and they're prettier. I hear the French enjoy them sliced lengthwise and spread with butter. In our house, we use them as a quick fresh side, a crunchy, spicy addition to a salad or roasted to enhance their sweetness. 

We grow lots of eating pumpkins which I process into pulp and use in baking throughout the year. I have a couple favorites, including this Long Island Cheese pumpkin. They're easy to grow and reliable. Just a few fruits is enough to keep you in pumpkin pie all year. I grow them alongside the Musquee de Provence (or fairytale) variety, which can be seen here. Both have a superior flavor and together make a fantastic pie, bread, cake, etc. And I enjoy watching them grow.

Sunflowers are so easy to grow and some newer varieties produce blooms all summer. I like how they look in the garden as well as my dinner table. Multi-colored Ring of Fire and Strawberry Blond are my favorite but sunflowers come in dozens of varieties from lemon yellow to almost black. I've often thought we should tear up a 1/2 acre and just fill it with sunflowers! Maybe next year.

What are you growing from seed?

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