Mary Lowther Column; Mark the Seasons with Seed Catalogs – Lake Cowichan Gazette
Is it just me, or is time just meaningless? There were definable seasons, but now they all seem to work together, starting and ending (if applicable) not on specific dates as much as market share. It’s bad enough when the cable channels put on “Christmas in July” and Santa Claus starts throwing soft drinks before Halloween, but now I get my spring seed catalogs before winter becomes official!
One is from Johnny’s Seeds, and I have never ordered from them, although I may have contacted them last year while looking for witloof chicory. They sent out a terrific catalog but they’re in Maine and have a $ 10 delivery charge and when I need seeds that I haven’t grown myself I like to buy local. I prefer local growers because their seeds were developed in and for my climate, and don’t need to travel that far. I also like supporting local businesses because when the supply chain becomes an issue, we will be happy to have them nearby.
Despite its early arrival, the seed catalog season is upon us, our annual reminder that it is time to take stock of our seeds and see what is still viable and what needs to be achieved. I’m starting by checking Salt Spring Seeds online to see what they have this year. I don’t wait for Seedy Saturday in February, because I like to know what seeds I have before. That way when I go to Seedy Saturday the pressure is released and I can have fun looking for things I didn’t know I wanted.
Before that, however, I have my own seed. On each package, kept or purchased, I write the date of sowing and the year until which they are still viable. Before sowing each crop, I test the viability of the seeds by sprinkling a few on a damp paper towel to see how many sprouts and how long it takes; if only half germinate, I will sow twice as much and I will not use that seed again.
I store the sorted seed packets in airtight plastic jars that once held chocolate ice cream. FYI, I didn’t buy it. I have more self-discipline than David and in addition, I prefer vanilla. The stuff is very bad for David, so I eat it to keep him from succumbing to temptation. Also, I need the containers.
I throw all the desiccant packets I bought in supplement bottles and Taiwanese tea bags in each jar, but I suspect that dried breadcrumbs would work just as well. The seeds last longer when stored in a cool, dry place so I save space in my lovely cold pantry. Have I already mentioned how much I love my pantry? Every house should have one, especially when there are gardeners living there, but we are getting ahead of ourselves. Pantry is something we traditionally discuss later in the year, and Ecclesiastes is right.
Last year we started growing garlic on a large scale, using seeds from a number of local growers. Since local seeds are adapted to our climate, it is always best to find a local source. This section invites any local producer with a catalog to send it to [email protected] I am always looking for new ideas.