Sunday, January 30, 2011

Top of the Crops-Great Veggie Seed to Grow.

Now that I have my seed listing up on my website, it's time to talk about a few of my favourite things...and seeds that are consistently best sellers.

 Since I started selling seed some 4 or 5 years ago, Seed Savers Lettuce Mixture has consistently been my best seller.  There is a really good reason for this! 

 It combines some absolutely lovely heirloom lettuces, most notably my personal favourite Bronze Arrowhead.   

Also in this mix is Deer Tongue, the gorgeous speckled Forellenschluss, deep red Red Velvet and at least 4 more varieties.  

This mix could be planted as a cutting mix, or started ahead in cell packs and planted out individually to form heads.

I use it in both ways. With 250 seeds per pack, it ends up being a lot of lettuce.

For a cutting mix, I like to plant my lettuce weekly, on the same day every week.  It takes a good amount of water and about 4 weeks for me to get it where I like it, about 3 " high.  Even in the high heat of mid summer, I find if I keep watering, it stays tender and non bitter.  At times that can be up to five waterings a day.  Worth it?  A resounding "YES"!

I know some folks consider this a "cut and come again" crop.  I never find the quality of the second cut nearly as good, so for that reason, turn it under after the first cut and reseed.  In this way through the whole season i always have four salad patches on the go.  Every week harvesting and every week planting.  Most importantly, every day watering and watching!

If I'm growing it to get heads, I sprinkle my seed on a flat filled with soil less mix.  I like a mix with Myke (mycorrhizae-a beneficial fungi) added.  Lettuce seed likes light to germinate, so covering the seed is not necessary. It needs to be kept moist however, and after germination and the appearance of the true leaves, I transplant it into cell packs, to grow it out further until transplanting into the garden.
Will 250 heads of lettuce keep you going all season?  Should-even for a family of bunnies.

And now for something completely different.

Hope I'm not misleading you...this one you don't eat, and trust me, don't want to.

I got the seed many years ago from William Woys Weaver, a noted chef , gardener and food historian.  He indicated the only use for it was to keep goats out of your garden!

It is in the nightshade family, and is named solanum atropurpureum.  Good luck finding the seed for this thorny marvel any where else..but it is worth growing.  It is just too cool!

It has a black purple stem covered in thorns,leaves with a thorny purple black spine and grows the interesting fruit pictured above.  This fruit turns a brilliant golden colour in the fall.  It grows to about 4' and is a sight to behold.  It is starting to develop a following-it is just THAT different.

Simple to grow, I start it right around the time I start my tomatoes, mid March to early April.  It is quite carefree.  I mean who is going to mess with those thorns?

And last tonight but far from least, is my favourite little melon,
Minnesota Midget.

This is a super personal sized melon.  For me, they generally grow no larger than 5" in diameter.  They have a wonderfully sweet orange flesh.  I like to chill them first in the fridge, then eat 'em.  Cool melons on a hot summer day are magic.  And with this small one, it is just a matter of slicing it in half, popping out the seeds and away we go!

Best of all, this melon has reasonably contained vines and is ideal for a small garden, and good for the northern garden. But it still manages to kick out quite a few fruit.

I generally start my melons around the beginning of May in peat pots in warm conditions. Depending on the year, that could be inside under lights, or in the hoop house if the temps are dipping too low.

In 3-4 weeks the plants are generally the size I like.  After hardening them off, I plant them in a hill I've created with compost and soil mixed together.  It's important to stay on top of the watering with melons too, and this I do.  Add the summer heat and they perform magnificently.

Ah, yes...summer will come.  But now is the time for planning some interesting and different crops.
Try 'em and see !

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