Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The seeds are coming! The seeds are coming!

Delighted today to check the mail and discover two of those much-anticipated bubble mailers--one from Horizon Herbs and one from Seed Savers Exchange.

Seeds from Horizon:

*Lungwort--Excellent shade plant used to make...surprise! Respiratory tonics.
*Wild Lettuce--Excellent sedative for practicing insomniac like myself.
*California Poppy--Milder sedative than wild lettuce and also an excellent mild analgesic for things like menstrual cramps.
*Flanders Poppy--This is the classic "Wizard of Oz" poppy...yet another sedative, stronger, with less of a woo-hoo-cuckoo effect than the Wild Lettuce...I plan on making a tincture of whole California poppy plants and blossoms from the Flanders poppy.
*Zahir Poppy--Yes, Virginia, this is a black opium poppy. Am I going to produce opium? Most likely not. I just love "black" flowers of all manner, and this will make such a rich contrast to the sunny orange and red poppies in my poppy patch.
*Clary Sage--To be completely honest, I absolutely hate the smell of clary sage, despite the fact that multiple people have called it "seductive" or "lusty." I stand by my assertion that it smells like cat piss. HOWEVER, it is a BEAUTIFUL plant and the bees absolutely adore it, so into the garden it goes, if for no other reason than to bring all the bees to the yard.
*Bittersweet (Climbing) Nightshade--Is it medicinally useful? According to my books, a low-dose tincture could treat herpes, but otherwise, no, it's not useful medicinally. However, I am utterly, and, perhaps, disturbingly smitten with baneful herbs--the deadlier the better. Fortunately, bittersweet nightshade is very unlikely to kill anyone unless they decide to feast on a quantity of raw berries. The flowers are lovely, the berries lucious to look at (and supposedly beloved by birds), and we had some growing wild through our garden in Oregon, so I decided to give it a go and see if perhaps it would like to trellis up the holly tree.

Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange:

Dragon Carrot--If you've never seen what one of these looks like, they're pretty remarkable. They're an extremely red variety of "purple" carrot. Jacob agrees that they remind us a little of a dog penis, but still, I can't wait to give them a go!

Blue Jade Corn--I'm pretty excited about this variety of corn. For one thing, it's one of the few blue corns that can be boiled and eaten off the cob (most blue corns are good for cornmeal or decorations). For another, it's one of the ONLY sweet corns that can be grown in a container. I'm not actually going to grow mine in a container, but it produces plants that are only 2-3 feet tall, which means this corn will be PERFECT for my little garden. I tried regular old field corn last year, and it was a disaster. The plants sprouted and formed ears, but they were stunted and then got some sort of incredible corn fungus that made each kernel puff up to roughly the size of a walnut and exude some sort of black sludge. Those plants all found their way into the compost heap. :/

Parisian Pickling Cucumber--I have been an adamant hater of pickles for many, many years. It baffles my parents, because they claim that as a child, I could sit and eat my way through an entire jar of bread and butter pickles and...AND...DRINK THE JUICE. So, this Christmas, my father ordered a bunch of crap in Currier & Ives tins and gingham-capped jars. Among these were some fat little gherkins from a farm in Arkansas. My father all but forced me to try one and....I LOVED IT. So, I decided to give pickle-making a try this summer and plant these fantastic little cukes that have been around since the late 1800s. Of course, I shall post the results here.

Marconi Red Pepper--Last summer, I got an unexpectedly good yield from my bell pepper plants (just your stock-standard California Wonders), and I decided to add a new variety to my pepper fleet. This is an Italian heirloom pepper that's supposedly very sweet and can get up to TWELVE INCHES LONG. For a girl who likes to eat bell peppers like candy, this is very good news.

Oxheart Carrot--These carrots live up to their name. They're fat, bulky, and pretty ugly. They can also reach ONE POUND APIECE, even in clay soil. They sound perfect for carrot soup and carrot juice, and they're good keepers, which means my plans to pack some of our root and squash-type veggies away in the basement for fall/winter eating might very well pan out...if I don't eat everything the minute I get it off the vine/out of the ground.

Okay, so clearly, those aren't all of the seeds I'm planting. We're waiting on a load of veggie seeds from a couple of other places and, of course, I already have an embarassing quantity of seeds ferreted away here at home. Thankfully, I was able to foist some seeds over on a friend yesterday, who, incidentally, had come over to be herbally cured of a headache she'd had for five days.

I am proud to report that her five day headache went away within the hour thanks to my hobgoblin-ish ministrations. Here's what I gave her:

"Everything But the Sink Headache Cure"--

1 bag of chamomile tea w/ 1 bag of Yogi "Bedtime" tea combined with....
*dose of homemade lemon balm/catnip/chamomile tincture
*dose of homemade feverfew tincture
*dose homemade lavender tincture
*dose homemade skullcap tincture

Normally I would NOT combine all of these herbs in an attempt to cure a headache. Not because they're dangerous to combine, of course...they're all quite gentle/innocuous. I wouldn't do it simply because I would want to know exactly WHICH plant it was that did the healing. Unfortunately, the poor girl had had this pounding headache for FIVE DAYS, and she had to go to school, so I essentially threw it all into the kettle and ended up with something that actually worked. I'm willing to bet it was the feverfew that did it--it usually helps my headaches, at least--but the other nervine herbs in the mix couldn't have hurt. Besides...I got to share my seed wealth!

In other news, Lord Freecycle has gifted us with a free garden shed (no more lugging the iron push-reel mower up from the basement when it's time to cut the weeds!), railroad ties for raised beds, and bricks for edging the front beds. Additionally, my friend Nikki gave me a VERY NICE stainless steel shelving system in exchange for dog-sitting, and my friend Victoria gave me about thirty grow lights last year sooooooooo I can finally get rid of my awkward seed-starting system and actually set up a legit. operation in the basement. Of course I'll only be growing veggies and herbs, but given that I live in a neighborhood where people are busted nearly everyday for growing pot in their basements, I'm going to have to be careful to block the windows so that the familiar fluorescent glow doesn't draw attention--not because I'm afraid of being arrested, but because I'm afraid of someone breaking in while we're gone. At any rate, this system will be far superior to last year's. Last year, I ended up putting plastic sheeting down on the floor of my office and starting all of my seeds there. Jacob and I would haul them daily out to the porch for sunlight and then bring them back in at night. We dropped several flats and lost some really difficult-to-grow/rare herbs in the process, not to mention the fact that there was constantly dirt everywhere. I'm thrilled to find this FREE solution to my problem (thanks Nikki and Victoria!) because it means that a). I can start MORE plants sooner (some of the herbs take weeks to germinate) and b). keep them at a more constant light/temperature level so that they'll be more likely to grow up big and strong.

Last spring, I ended up with so many extra plants, I tried to have a plant sale. More like a plant FAIL. In Oregon (two years ago), I had a smashing success of a plant sale. Not so here in ol' Paducah. No one was remotely interested in buying my plants, and I was in a very piss-poor location for attempting to convince people that heirloom veggies were the way to go (not too many crack addicts are inclined to grow their own food). Now, I'm still in a piss-poor location (ah...but the house! the house!), but the nice, fair trade/organic coffeeshop in the hip arts district (just a couple of blocks away) has offered to let me have a plant sale at the shop. HOW EXCITING IS THAT? Etcetera (the shop) gets TONS of traffic, particularly on the weekends when the galleries are open late. And we all know, of course, that artsy coffee drinkers tend to revel in growing their own veggies/herbs, even if it's just a tomato or basil plant. So, hurrah!

I'm pretty sure that's just about everything. I'm completely swamped in work right now, but all I can do is keep stopping to gaze at my seed packets, and it's taking all of my willpower to wait until this weekend to get my seed starting shelves set up. Outside in the home-made cold frame, the lettuce seeds are sprouting, and some English bluebells have poked their heads out from their cold stratification area along the back wall of the house. I'm pretty much burning up with spring fever, and I know many of you are, as well, so I leave you with this parting shot:

Grow for all you're worth, little Arnicas!

Green blessings & watermelon dreams,


1 comment:

A. Slowik said...

what's a grow light?