Monday, April 13, 2015

Seeds. It's time. Let's do this.

It's that seed time of year...let the adventuring begin! 

I love a good seed packet, give me an illustration of a an early wonder tall top beet and I'll be tempted to frame it. I swoon over the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog every time. I cherish my new Christmas tradition of pouring over the Johnny's catalog with Ben's Dad. It happens in the down times, while dinner is cooking, or while we're driving to the next hike, he kindly responds to my endless questions about cheddar cauliflower and tokyo turnips. he never gives a much of a hint about what he might experiment with in the new year, and then, come spring I discover he's actually putting in those cheddars after all... I get so excited to open a seed packet and see what a vegetable looks like from it's start. from a whisper of a carrot to the big knuckly beet seed.

A seed is limitless possibility and a history book. prepare the soil. watch the sun and clouds, maybe even the moon cycles and definitely for a good day to plant. fingers crossed for the winning combination of little sunshine and a little rain. keep one eye out for your local predators, cats in my hood, birds in another. 

But before all the stories. Before all this cloud watching. There is the buying of the seed. You guessed it, my favorite kind of shopping spree. It's been a year and a complete life changing purge since I've had a garden to plant, so instead of rummaging through my old seed box, the shopping for NEW SEED!! was on this year. 

Where to begin?

BUY LOCAL. yep, there are seed companies that grow seed for where you are. buy it if you can, because those seeds will like it where you are. You might find the seed rack tucked away in the corner of your natural food grocery store, or at your local nursery (and what's a better way to lift the spirits on a rainy April day than taking a trip to a nursery?). 

In Oregon, I have two seed companies to choose from: Territorial (better seed packet design) and Nichols Garden Nursery (more varieties at my local spot and a lot of good reading on a tiny packet). No local options? Go regional. I hear good I couldn't resist some of the asian vegetable varieties sold by Oakland's Kitazawa Seed Company. And for my desert-dwelling friends, get drought tolerant varieties at Native Seed/SEARCH. Dying for that one-of-a-kind heirloom? have to have that wierdly nobbly winter squash that looks like you'll need a crowbar to cook with it? Go with Seed Savers Exchange or Baker Creek. And you can't go wrong with Johnny's of course. 

And DONT WORRY ABOUT GMOS! Really. Seriously. Don't. I've spent many of my hours in the past few months getting the low down on genetically modified food, for work. And, there are currently, in the year 2015, almost no genetically modified vegetables at your grocery store and even fewer to buy in a seed packet for your home garden. (There are only a few commercially available GMO crops currently on the market, most of which you probably won't grow in your home garden : corn, cotton, alfalfa, canola, papaya, some summer squashes, and soy beans--there's also new non-browning apples and potatoes that just got approved, but I'm not sure how commercially available they are yet...) If you are still worried, buy seed with a USDA organic stamp of approval. Whatever you think of the organic label, it really means there are NO GMOs. for real. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

the poetics of fruit trees, recipes and freebies

It's spring spring spring here in portland. Everything is in bloom. We have leafed. We've moved from the pinks and yellows of magnolias, the stunning dog woods not just white but pink too, oregon grapes, and shocks of bright tulips, now into the lilacs and the irises unravel, into deep purples, some with wagging white tongues, others, instead, a full pale yellow. Time to get into fruit trees, and bees, and dust off projects shelved in the darkness of winter. Here's a smattering of my spring streetscapes...

hello first true leaves!!! of beet and lettuce to be

a portrait of a carrot

I'm finding myself on craigslist more and the free list gets me every time...

2 TVs and a dentist chair
original manual and operating instructions 4: Nordic Trac Elite
hot tub (lots of hot tubs...)
bathroom sink - cracked
an armoir and a sumac tree
small bag beaded necklaces
4 55 gallon drums
electric organ
1 stack martha stewart magazines