Wednesday 27 January 2016

Ordering Seeds: Step 2 - What Do I Really Want?

As soon as I receive a seed catalogue in the mail, I immediately flip through it and circle all of the veggies I want to buy.  And it is usually a lot as there are always so many new varieties!  So I need to restrain myself by considering previous results in the garden and what do I really want to grow.  The obvious criteria for my “wants” include:

-          What do I like?
-          What will I be successful with?
-          What crops have a better yield?

      Unfortunately, what I choose may not meet all criteria with yield being the most challenging.  I LOVE dried beans, pretty much any kind, but they take up a lot of space – especially because I prefer bush style as I find them less fussy than pole style beans to grow.  But I like them, so I’ll grow them.

I’m totally with Dave (Our HappyAcres) and his mission “to grow and eat as many different varieties of beans as possible”.  In fact, I was going to follow his lead and order from Rancho Gordo but then I found a Canadian source (Heritage Harvest) that has some very interesting varieties.  I prefer to stick with Canadian sources because (1) they are more likely to be suited to my climate and (2) the Canadian dollar pretty much sucks right now so I’m avoiding any U.S. purchases.

As for “what do I like”, I tried some new varieties in 2015 that I wasn’t thrilled about.  Like Bloomsdale spinach.  I just didn’t like the texture or taste.  So I went back in my posts to find the spinach I grew in 2013 and will go back to that one.  And I really loved Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers so I’ll look for those.

And then there is the success aspect and whether I can even grow what I want.  A good example is cucurbits (squash, pumpkin, zucchini, etc.).   I want to grow every kind I can find.  I want to grow watermelons and cantaloupe and all sorts of summer squash.  But … I have failed to grow melons every year that I’ve tried and I’ve decided to give up.  I do actually have some seeds left from last year so I might as well use them up but I’m not buying any more (I might have more success in the greenhouse but I have limited space).

And more so, I had a terrible time last year with squash bugs and cucumber beetles.  So even though I “want” to grow all sorts of zucchini, there is no point if I can’t successfully grow them.  For summer squash I will be buying only tromboncino – I’ve read that this type is a vigorous grower and, although no plants are actually immune, these may be strong enough at an early stage that they won’t as easily die off.  As for winter squash, I have read repeatedly that c. moschata types (including butternut) are more likely to stave off a bug attack so I’ll focus on those (note: tromboncino is also a c. moschata).

After my initial flurry of circling everything I want in every catalogue I can find, I simply go through the catalogues again bearing in mind the criteria (I also try to consider overall space but, really, I can just add more gardens or put things in containers if needed).

And so I’m off to the final review of the seed catalogues. 

Do you have any fun, new varieties you WANT to try this year?


  1. I just went through this exercise! One of the more intriguing new veggies I got seeds for is "Dazzling Blue" kale. It's a cross of Lacinato and another kale mix, the result is a kale that looks like Lacinato but it has pink mid ribs and it's supposed to be more cold hardy than straight Lacinato (not that that's a problem in my climate).

    Good luck with your squash. That photo of the squash crawling with bugs is, ugh, disgusting.

    1. I know, creepy crawlies, right!? I'm going to try some new kale this year too ...

  2. I just finished placing my orders yesterday, other than William Dam which I will be going to in person.

    I wasn't planning on purchasing that much this year as I wanted to give most of last years veg another shot (this time taking much better care of them!), but of course I couldn't help myself and ended up purchasing quite a bit more than I intended (although still a lot less than last year).

    Oh - and ditto what Michelle said about the squash bugs...I think I'd give up too if I saw that!

    1. My regular order is always with William Dam ... must be fun to see it all in person!

  3. I've not heard of Heritage Harvest and they *do* have some interesting beans! I have a full house of beans already though for 2016. I'm in the middle of ordering seeds myself. And it's funny, but I just ordered that Dazzling Blue kale that Michelle mentioned. It won't be long and I'll be starting early seeds here for things like parsley.

  4. Ew, I'm really glad we don't get squash bugs over here. My seed ordering is pretty easy as I usually just buy from one catalogue. On your other post about seeds you mentioned risking missing out buying seeds that you've used up completely during the year - I try to avoid this by keeping a piece of paper with my seed packets and writing down any I use up, but, well I don't always remember!

  5. We get squash bugs something fierce too, along with squash vine borers. The only way I've ever managed to control either critter is by using spinosad, last year I was making baby food from the garden so only used it on eggplants for flea beetles which didn't work very well.

    1. Spinosad, interesting. I see it's organic but still need to be careful with it ... I'll see how it goes for me this year and might look into that further. Thanks Phuong.