Seed selection

The rains of winter are still coming down. Luckly, this is the time of year where there isn’t a lot of outdoor work on the farm. Slogging in the rain can wait another month or two! There are a few tasks to attend to, however. We’ve set February 1 as our deadline to select and order our seeds. We won’t really need them until March, but we found out last year that if you put it off until the last minute, you sometimes run up against shortages of some of the more popular varieties.

It’s funny; I always thought of seeds as something you pop out to the store and buy a packet of for a few dollars. At this scale it’s a much more involved endeavor. There are about half a dozen good catalogs that offer the quality, variety, and organically-produced stuff we want. And it’s not like there is a company that is generally cheaper than the others; you have to compare prices for a given variety across several different vendors: Territorial Seed Company, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Osborne Seed Company, Irish Eyes Garden Seeds, Bountiful Gardens… there are a lot to sort through.

Then you have to work out how many you need, to fill the space you want at the given planting density, to get the yield you anticipate. It’s like a giant math problem! It pleases my architect side (Emily has been calling me a “Farmitect” lately). What would I do without spreadsheet software?

And that packet that costs a few dollars? Well, we’re goingt to be planting twice as many beds as last year, so the seed bill is roughly twice as high, about $400. That’s even after a fair amount of bargain hunting. We’ve been talking about “seed saving” since we started this venture, and that’s even more reason to get serious about learning how to do it.

Turns out, there is a bit of a science to seed saving. We did it last year with potatoes, and it saved us about $30 in buying seed potatoes, and we also saved seed from our Rouge Vif pumpkins. But those are the easy examples. Other plants are trickier: cucurbrit seeds require fermentation and drying, carrots and beets require a second year of growth to set seed correctly, and some seeds require stratification. All require drying, and storage within a specific temperature and humidity range. Learning about this, as well as building a seed drier, is one of our projects for this fall.

So, for your enjoyment, I present the mostly-complete list of what we will be planting this year:

corn, popping Japanese Hulless
corn, sweet “Festivity”
corn, sweet Golden Bantam
corn, ixim Painted Mountain
sunflowers anthony special
wheat hard red spring
garlic Anthony & Spanish Roja 3-variety
onions, storage “Cortland” F1
onions, red Red Cipollini
onions, sweet bulb Ailsa Criag
onions, bunching Fukugawa
parsnips “Lancer”
potatoes, Irish Red Lasoda
potatoes, Irish Bake King
potatoes, Irish Viking Purple (H 1962)
potatoes, fingerling French Fingerling (H)
turnips “Purple Top White Globe”
arugula Roquette
beans, kidney “Light Red Kidney”
beans, black “Midnight Black Turtle Soup”
beans, black Yin Yang
beans, garbonzo
beans, snap bush “Fresh Pick”
beans, snap bush Teggia (purple streaks)
beens, snap pole violet podded stringless
beans, edamame Misono Green
beans, edamame Early Hakucho
beets “Bull’s Blood” H
beets “Chiogia”
beets “Touchstone Gold”
broccoli “DiCicco” H,1890
broccoli, overwintering check out “Early Purple”
broccoli, romanesco
brussels sprouts “Roodnerf”
cabbage Copenhagen Market (H)
cabbage, savoy Verza di Verona (OP)
cabbage, red Red Drumhead (H)
carrots “Chantenay” (H)
carrots “Nantes” (H)
carrots dragon
celery “EA Special Strain”
cucumber “Marketmore 76” H, 1976
cucumber “Snow’s Fancy Pickling” H, 1905
lettuce, butterhead Victoria
lettuce, butterhead Speckles (H)
lettuce, romaine Bullet
peas “Sugar Snap” 1979
pumpkin “Winter Luxury” H, 1893
pumpkin “Rouge Vif D’Etamps” H.
radishes Easter Egg
spinach, savoyed “Bloomsdale Longstanding” H,1908
spinach, savoyed Bordeaux F1
squash, summer “Lebanese Light Green”
squash, summer Yellow Crookneck
squash, winter “Waltham” butternut
squash, winter Triamble
squash, winter Uchiki Kuri
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