Thursday, January 31, 2008

What is your favorite seed company?

All month we have been seeing posts about the stacks of seed catalogs that appear in gardeners' mailboxes. I love reading about people's excitement for seed catalogs.

Just for the record, here is my new 2008 seed catalog collection:

I'm curious, what effect do all of these catalogs have on gardeners decisions as to where to buy their seeds? So what better way to find out then to ask some gardeners?

Do you buy your seeds from a catalog or catalogs, from the web or from your local store? If you buy from a seed company's catalog or website, which companies are your favorites and why? If you have an answer for me you can comment on this post or you can write a post of your own. If you do write a post about it, let me know and I will link to it.

Just in case I don't get many answers (or any), I’ll now let you know what my favorites are and why.

This year's top six! I have ordered from five of these in the past and this year I will order from a new one.

The company I ordered from for years is Park Seeds. I'm not sure why it was my first favorite. I guess I had success with their seeds and just kept ordering from them without trying any others.

Johnny's Selected Seeds is another favorite because they have many organic selections. I originally learned of them from Eliot Coleman.

Totally Tomatoes is a fun company because they are, well - totally tomatoes! I didn't know there were soooo many different varieties of tomatoes!

The catalog I order from the most is not even a seed catalog. Gardens Alive sells organic fertilizers and many great organic gardening supplements and supplies. I also like them because I used to work at their retail store.

Now for my all-time favorite, Pinetree Garden Seeds. Why are they my favorite? I'll admit it, - they're my favorite because I'm cheap! Pine tree has always offered the least expensive seeds, period. Most seed packets are still under a dollar! The seeds I've gotten from them have always produced very well. Their catalog is not very pretty or fancy. I actually appreciate that because they do seem to pass along the savings to their customers. I will always get the bulk of my seeds from Pine tree even while sampling other companies.

Now for the new catalog that impresses me; Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. They have many rare varieties and they are all heirloom seeds! Last year I began growing more heirloom tomatoes and I want to expand to include more heirloom vegetables this year. Not only do their selections look great, their catalog is beautiful! It is full of pictures and interesting designs. Simply paging through the catalog is a real treat.

Well there you have it. If you would like to write a comment or a post about your favorite seed catalog, yours doesn't have to be as long as mine. I tend to get carried away sometimes. Seriously, I really do want to hear about where you buy from and why. I'm sure I've been missing some great companies. I'll link to your posts in one of my future posts.

Have fun perusing through those catalogs and longing for Spring planting!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Excited about my new Soil Blocker!

The time of year is fast approaching where I start hundreds of seeds indoors with my grow-light setup. Last season I wrote a post documenting all the things you need to start seeds indoors and one of the main things I listed was cell-packs or pots.

Now I realize that you don't even need them - if you have soil block makers!

I first read about soil block makers 10 years ago in my all time favorite gardening book The New Organic Grower, by Eliot Coleman. Eliot Coleman is the leading expert in effective organic vegetable production. I have implemented many of Coleman's organic techniques and alternative tools over the years in my garden but I never had a soil blocker until now.

I don't know why I waited so long. I used to spend hours packing soil into little cell packs. Now I can just create blocks of soil as the pots. Now that I see it in action I am going to buy the other sizes of block makers too. You see, the beauty of the system is that you can start a seed in a small block and then transplant it into a larger block when needed. The larger size soil blocks are made with indentations the exact size of the smaller block! I bought my soil blocker from Johnny's Selected Seeds and they have a great PDF file on their website that explains this better.

If you're not following how the blocker works, it is designed to compact the seed-starting medium into the blocks and then "press" out the blocks with a spring-loaded mechanism.

I used to think the soil blocker costs were too high but now I'm reconsidering that. The smaller sizes run around $30 each but the larger 4" size is over $100. All I have now is the medium size but I may spring for the smaller size this year too. I will probably have to pass on the larger size and use pots and make-shift containers for my larger tomato transplants like I did last year. Although I do think the complete soil block maker system is so cool that I will save up and get the larger one for Christmas and have it in production for 2009! I know, I know, we still have all of 2008 to go. I will post about the smaller boil blockers when I begin using them next month. I can hardly wait!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What would you grow in a Memorial Garden?

I really don't know where to begin. I miss gardening outside. I miss Spring and Summer. I miss warm wind and cool rain. I miss beautiful flowers and tasty organic garden vegetables. Since it is Winter where I live, there isn't much I can do about all of that.

I also miss blogging. I miss Veggie Garden Info. I miss reading all the great garden blogs out there and commenting on them. I miss my blogging friends. All of those things I could still be doing. So why is it that I'm not doing them? Could it be because most of all, I miss my dad?

Since he passed away in September, I really haven't been the same. I have had a difficult time doing any of the things I used to enjoy and I have been a terrible blogger these past four months.

I think I am beginning to feel better though. While at his house last week, finishing the work of sorting through his things, a new thought came to my mind and it has gotten me excited about gardening again. The thought was simply this - Why don't I plant a Memorial Garden for my dad? He didn't want us to have a funeral for him and he is not buried in a cemetery. So maybe creating my own Memorial Garden would help me. I could have a plaque or a stone with his picture on it and a bench and some flowers. I could put it right next to the vegetable garden so I would see it often.

this is where I need your help (if anyone is reading this). What kind of flowers or plants should I grow in this memorial garden? I have no idea where to begin in planning this.

I do know that it is a good idea because since I decided to do it, I have begun thinking of other aspects of the garden now as well. I have a whole list of ideas for blog posts as well. I will write my 2008 garden goals soon and hope to begin posting regularly again!

But for now, does anyone have any ideas for my Memorial Garden? I would love to hear them!

I also want to apologize for my long absence here and at Veggie Garden Info and at your blogs as well.

Thanks for reading.

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