I don't get as many seed catalogs in the mail as I used to, but part of the reason for that is that I don't order as many as I used to!
I've started ordering for 2013, and here is what is ordered so far.
Beurre De Rocquencourt Bush Wax Bean
Contender (Buff) Valentine Bush Bean
Chadwick's Rodan Lettuce
Collective Farm Woman Melon
Ronde De Nice
Blacktail Mountain Watermelon
Autumn Beauty - Sunflower
These are from Baker Creek, home of Marketing Mastermind Jere Gettle. I don't think Baker Creek's seeds are any better than others, (as far as germination) and I did NOT get their catalog in the mail. I was looking for some unusual seeds to try, so am starting here. Their site is at www.rareseeds.com.
I'm also going to order two things from Burpee for sure.... The new container corn "On Deck Hybrid", and the huge sauce tomato, "Super Sauce". If you have not seen these two yet, hurry on over to Burpee to get a look. Keith is not into growing sweet corn, he feels it takes up too much space for low yield, but I have grown it successfully in the past, and want to give it a try this year since I'm going to be doing the lion's share of gardening. www.burpee.com for that link.
Last year was brutal in our area, gardening-wise. We did put the hoop house up, and things got off to a wonderful start, however, temps warmed up quickly and the gardens burned up. I watered clear into December, trying to save the perennial beds. I've decided that after we top dress them this year, I am going to fill in with annuals and try to get a handle on what perennials have lived, and which will have to be replaced. Keith and I have talked several times about putting up a simple, small greenhouse on the footprint of the hoophouse. One thing we will do is kill all the vegetation in it... while I don't like to use brush killers, we won't be planting in that soil, and I want the weeds out... it was a battle in there this year. One of the best things we did was two summers ago, when we ran a standpipe to the garden area and made our lives SO much easier as far as the henspa and garden.
Because we live semi-rurally, there are many, many real farmers around here who have recently used the drought to deepen and clean sediment out of their ponds. Keith is going to talk to a friend of ours down the road and see if we can buy some of the good dirt from him, and haul it up here and apply it to our beds, saving us having to haul bags from the nursery. We will mix manure, chicken coop cleanings, and other amendments into it before planting.
When I was on my own at the first Calamity Acres, I jury-rigged a seed-starting station on the workbench in my basement. I'm going to see if Keith will do the same for me here... in our workshop... with a hanging auto shop light with a hot bulb and a grow bulb in it, on chains so I can adjust the height. Then I'll get things started along about the end of March, so I don't tempt Mother Nature too much.
Note the weeds and grass on the ground... they loved the heat, too. Until it got to 104.
After growing tomatoes in the hoop house last year with little return on the effort, they are going back outside this year, in the raised beds. I wanted to rotate them anyway. What DID do well in the hoophouse were strawberries and herbs. The herbs LOVED the mediterranean environment, and I am going to plant lots this year.
I haven't finished looking at seed houses on line yet, as I do want to order marigolds and zinnias, cleomes, balsam, and love-lies-bleeding (amaranthus caudatus) for the south bed.
Ranger hears the mailman, so I'll cut this short for now!
Back again this evening, and I want to make a few comments about produce raising and preserving. Keith and I like the fact that we have made some jams and jellies, and preserved tomatoes with sauce and pizza and chili mixes. Here's the problem, and I'll illustrate it with what we did two years ago:
We raised pickling cukes by the hundred. I canned them all, and made dill, sweet and bread and butter pickles, all good.
I can't eat pickles (much) any more, though I always loved them, because they will not go down my lap band.
We still have 25 quarts of pickles on our shelves, despite giving them to people as gifts (and my son, who loves the sweet pickles).
For just the two of us, it was not practical, and we didn't think along those lines. We used valuable gardening space.
Here's another thing... We don't use green peppers all that much in cooking. We have wasted space on them, too, because "you always raise green peppers in your garden". Not again, folks. We learn, sometimes slowly.
I can't eat melon very well anymore, either, but I am going to raise two this year, and have small bites, I hope. I'm going to be declaring war on squash bugs, too.
What we do use and eat are green beans, and I hope to finally convince myself that I really CAN use a pressure canner... so that we can save ours that we grow.
I want to thank everyone who helped me when I could not post last week... it affected many, many bloggers, and your answers enabled me to help others who were as perplexed as we. Way to go, Blogging Nation!