The first seed catalog to grace our kitchen table.
My first seed catalog experience wasn’t that long ago. The summer of 2010 found me with a child turning one, a shrinking budget and time on my hands. Not much time, but re-learning how to accomplish daily tasks as a newly minted mother made it seem I was gaining time back from the showerless, piled-high laundry days of newborn and infant-raising.
I loved the CSA I picked up weekly from Gregg Keckler with Orchard Country Produce. For the first time in my life I let absolutely no vegetables go to waste since I imagined them to be carefully selected for the CSA subscribers. Whether I got caught up in childhood memories of growing up in the woods, or figured I could save money by growing my own kale and carrots, I found Southern Exposure Seed Exchange from nearby Virginia and requested a mini-catalog.
All of my wildest gardening fantasies were contained in those pages. I felt to do this justice I should be sitting at a huge wooden farm table, hand-hewn by ancestors who had left behind the humid summers along the lower Potomac and settled along a stream looking down into a pastoral Appalachian valley. Lacking this, I put the baby to bed, propped open the back door overlooking our shabby shared back yard and sat at our second-hand Ikea table in our 100 year old two-bedroom apartment.
These bare pages seem timeless.
Being the mini-catalog, there were only a few plant drawings and no tempting “This is the best producing tomato variety we’ve grown!” descriptions. My engineering days meant, of course, that I already compiled a list of container friendly, locally proven vegetables with which I could maximize space through companion planting. I mulled over this mini-catalog seeking maximum bounty.
My decoder ring.
I made my selections, ordered online and carefully noted by when I should plant the seeds. I bought a few pots, scavenged a few and scored the rest on late-season clearance. My year working part-time at a local garden shop, paired with wild success growing five or six herbs from transplants for two seasons, gave me confidence to spare.
I carefully sewed these dreamy little cabbage and kale seeds into discount peat pots and set them on our bathroom window sill to sprout. Outside I sewed carrots, spinach, cilantro and dill in the late-summer DC heat.
I tended, I watered, I watched.
And I watched.
I watched the autumn-crazed squirrels dig and destroy, day after day, my window box of carrots. I replanted them every evening, hoping the furry thugs would move on. I watched the cabbage worms I had to consult GardenWeb to identify, then consult to treat, devour entire young cabbage plants in the 23 hours since I had checked them last.
I watched the southward-creeping sun tuck further and further behind our neighbor’s house such that, by mid-October, our sunny back stairs that housed the majority of my newest infatuation lay in the shadows, leaving my bush beans and all their companions to sulk in the dark. I watched the aphids cover my kale so entirely that growth seemed stunted completely.
My original herbs thrived while everything I planted from seed fell victim to one calamity or another.
I harvested four pods of green beans.
This flat of goodies became an incredibly bountiful 2011 back yard mostly-container garden.
Spring of 2011 brought luck on the heels of its warm weather – I won a $25 gift certificate to Old City Green where I kicked in an extra $10 and came home with a fantasy gardening flat sampling every herb they had, a few strawberry plants and three tomatoes.
My herbs and tomatoes were so bountiful that I harvested them fresh for friends and family all summer, dried the last them as gifts for the holidays and vowed to try my hand again at vegetables come spring.
These little guys are part of an ambitious 2012 lineup of veggies, herbs and flowers.
My 2012 Southern Exposure Seed Exchange order shipped today.
Are you starting seeds? Have you sworn never to again? Are you going straight for transplants from the garden center? Do you have any new varieties planned for this year?