So I finally got around to snooping through the Vesey's Seeds catalogue, and man, oh, man, I'm all pumped for spring. This year, the catalogue weighs in at a hefty 163 pages. Chock full of traditional and not-so-traditional fruits, veggies and flowers. I greedily feast my eyes on the offerings and dream of the time when there isn't a cold white blanket covering my fairly substantial beds and gardens. Vesey's is a good Canadian company that actually introduces new seeds and does trials on them in their own gardens - located in York County, Prince Edward Island. My theory is that, if they are hardy enough to withstand the maritime weather, they should be good for Grey County. So far, my instincts have been right on, with an abundance of peas, carrots, beets, onions and lettuce every year, generally without fail.
This year, I'm opting to try a few new varieties, so here's what I'm thinking:
Istanbul carrots: These are described as uniform, straight, nine to 10 inch dark orange variety with a small core. It's an imperator - which means it's long and thin, rather than short and fat. Which makes it good for cooking in stir fries and for eating raw as sticks. Yum.
Baby Leaf Blend mesclun: This one was developed by the company's staff and looks fantastic in the picture at least. Their lettuce blends are so pretty, with the mix of purple and dark and bright green - even some that are speckled. Nothing like going out with scissors just before dinner, cutting some mesclun and just having it with a simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Again, double yum.
Robin beets: These are baby beets that you harvest while they're tiny. We love pickling beets and have had great luck with the regular early varieties - usually we're doing down those precious purple bulbs before we even start picking peas! Anyway, this year, I'll have some of the regular ones, and maybe a row or two of these miniatures to see how they do when they're pickled whole. Vesey's says that they'll be ready to pull in less than a month, so by the end of June, we'll be "beeting" a path from the garden to the kitchen.
Bull's eye: Of course we have to have more flowers - even though my beds already overfloweth. I always have to try 'one more' different type of plant or flower just to see how they perform. This year, it's this one. The bronze leaves kind of look like heuchera. But it's also actually called the 'toothache' plant' because if you chew them, they'll numb your gums. It's so nice when you get beauty and usefulness all wrapped up in the same floral package.
Giganteus sunflowers: We go from tiny to bigger, stronger, taller - having a wall of towering yellow bee feeders looking out over the farmette. That's the idea behind planting these guys. Normally, I plant the Russian variety, but this year, I'm going for records in terms of height. These are supposed to get up to 12 feet tall, and have flowers that are 10 inches across! We have the space, so I figured, why not go all out? They're also a bit darker yellow in colour - almost orange - so I think it'll be a nice contrast.
So there you have it. While there's still about three inches of snow cover everything, the signs have already started. I've had snowdrops blooming in the back (south-facing) bed for a couple of weeks already. So it's coming. Just as the seeds that I'm ordering today from the catalogue will be making their way to the West Grey post office in a few weeks. Can hardly wait.