Saturday, February 5, 2011

Garden Planning 2011

This past week I ordered my seeds from Tomato Growers Supply Company for the community garden. I had a great experience last year learning about seeds, plants, soil and sunlight. Barbara Kingsolver's book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," has been on my bedside table serving as inspiration to grow some of my own food again this year. Kingsolver and her family went local for an entire year eating only what they could grow themselves or buy from their neighborhood farmers. While I know I'm not up for that kind of a challenge I love reading about where food comes from, what it's biological history is and how to be more creative in the kitchen. She has influenced me to focus on heirloom varieties instead of all of the hybrids I grew last year. I'll still be using some of the leftover seeds from last year to grow another tomatillo plant, red bell pepper and an assortment of herbs, but the new seeds are all heirloom tomatoes.

The garden peach is my most unique heirloom tomato seed. It's advertised as being yellow-orange, slightly fuzzy and very sweet and fruit-like. I can't wait to try it out in salads and to juice it. Other seeds range from the beautiful, ribbed costoluto genovese to the practical, full-flavored sioux tomato. For homemade marinara I picked the Polish opalka which boasts a flavor so sweet and rich you won't need to add anything, and finally, an Australian cherry tomato for snacking called tommy toe. Heirloom seeds have been passed down for many generations and were pollinated in nature, not a controlled environment. This means that their offspring will usually be the same as the parent. With hybrid seeds you never know what you're going to get in the second generation. That's why seed catalogs love them — you have to buy new seeds every year. Of course, I loved the hybrids I grew last year, I just want to support the biological diversity that has existed for most of human history. I'll be planting my seeds indoors the first week of March to get a head start on the season.

Any other excited gardeners out there?