Thursday, March 15th, 2018
When I was a child, a big highlight of the year was the arrival the Sear’s Christmas catalogue. When I grew up, I exchanged that excitement for a spring highlight – the annual seed catalogue! In the cold, gray days of winter, there is nothing more uplifting than spending time with the latest seed catalogues! When I first started gardening, I believe our family received a single brochure from Stokes Seeds. With internet sales blossoming, we now have access to a broader range of suppliers.
Since relocating to the Elora region several years ago, I have been a regular attendee at the Guelph Organic Conference tradeshow, my yearly prelude to spring. The conference takes place at the Guelph University Centre at the end of January, and the tradeshow is a great time to review new products and resources, but also a perfect time to get your hands on fresh seeds and varieties, early in the season. There are usually at least a half dozen organic seed suppliers, and I always find new and exciting variations to try. Sadly, I missed the conference this year, so I decided to explore online options.
I came across Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (www.rareseeds.com). While I usually look locally first, and then regionally, I was drawn in by the story of how Baker Creek Seeds started. The owner, Jere Gettle began his business at the age of 17 and over the past 20 years has grown the business to offer 1800 heirloom varieties with seeds from over 100 countries. I wasn’t looking for anything exotic, but I did find some great selections to test out this year.
The variety I’m most excited about is Glass Gem Corn. I may never see a cob as beautiful as this one, but the colours in this photo got me excited about the possibility of using the harvest as Christmas presents. The picture of this corn makes me think of Christmas tree decorations. What a fantastic gift it would make – homegrown popcorn!
I guess you can see a trend here. I was looking for colour, which at the beginning of the year, is always lacking. In Ontario, this is the season of gray skies and snow covered yards. In past summers, our garden relied on the Rainbow Chard, marigolds and nasturtiums for colour. This year, we’ll have a colour boost from Aurora Mixed Orach. Orach, also called mountain spinach, is a native of Europe and Siberia. The flavour is reminiscent of spinach. It’s is packed with vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, anthocyanins, phosphorous, iron, protein, zinc, selenium, tryptophan, vitamin C, vitamin K, carotenes and dietary fibre. A beautiful and healthy ‘green.’
I also added two varieties of okra to this year’s order and chose this variety for its colour! Jing Orange Okra has a beautiful hibiscus-like blossom. It’s incredibly showy against the dark green foliage and red-orange stems and pods. Okra, as well, is loaded with beneficial nutrients as well as soluble fibre.
I have only eaten okra in soup, so it will be interesting to see how well it produces and how well we can keep up with the bounty it provides!
I sit here now, waiting for my seed order, excited to get my fingers in the warm moist soil … bring on spring planting!