Winter Reading

HUMBOLDT STREET, Brooklyn: The 2010 Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog arrived in the mail yesterday!! Page after page of sweet luscious vegetal porn. See the bounty for yourself: www.rareseeds.com

Man oh man these folks have been busy! Last year they sent out $50,000 worth seeds for a program they call “Seeds for Peace” donating packets to schools, orphanages, and other humanitarian projects around the world. This year they are aiming for $100K, and the coolest part is you support their cause just by placing an order. It’s not like an extra they are asking for a dollar on the side, they just freakin do it.

They also opened a “Seed Bank” this year in Petaluma, CA converting an old bank building into a literal archive of seed. Check out their website, I wont explain it all here… but it is very inspiring.

As I flip through the pages of Chanteny Red Core Carrots and Quadro d’Asti Rosso Peppers I realize the cold weather is  upon us. Even though I was still seeing green after Thanksgiving, my marigolds are now black and anything remaining standing is crispy. Although I do have to do one more sweep of the perimeter to tie a few loose ends before winter hits us hard (it hasn’t snowed here yet) like dragging in my terra cotta and making sure there aren’t any straggling but salvageable edibles out there… what does a gardener do in winter?

Take Stock. The tomatoes are cooked down and frozen in plastic zip locks in my freezer. The carrots are pickled on the shelf. The onions and potatoes are getting cozy for a long winter. And there are also apples (bought, not grown here) ready to tough it out in cold storage (aka my fridge.) In the olden days, this is what people had to live off. For a good five + months. Think about that for a while.

Daydream. Philosophize. Theorize. Research. This is a gardener’s time to hibernate and plan, thinking about what worked last year and the year before to make the upcoming spring… and summer, and fall… as gratifying as possible.

I wish I had more earth. I wish I had a picture of the amazing castor bean plant that grew 10′ tall the first year we moved here. I wish the cold frame hadn’t been such a bust so I might still have something growing outside to tend to… but for now all I have is my house plants, a new seed cataloug, and the internet…

Hey, life’s not so bad. I think the inevitable nostalgia for longer days and growing plants that sweeps in this time of year, might all be remedied with a Christmas tree…

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