Ready, Set, Plant!

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Even though I prefer fall and winter weather, I must say I get excited about planting my garden in the early spring and summer.  The ground is still pretty cold here in the Chicago area, but the minute I can start planting,  lettuces, peas, and some others will be the first ones in.  I get excited when my chives and mint pop up, because then I know planting can soon begin.   My garden is not large, but I squeeze a lot into it, plus we have wonderful Farmer’s Markets in our area, so whatever I can’t grow myself, I know I will find it at the market. 
Many of our familiar vegetables were cultivated in historic times.  The ancient Egyptians grew onions, garlic, radishes, lettuces, and broad beans.  The Greeks and Romans farmed produce which was native to their own countries and discovered a wider range of plants thanks to their contact with other cultures.  By the Middle Ages, a wealth of vegetables was available and recipes for them were recorded in the first cookery books.
We have such a marvelous range of local and imported vegetables in our country.  This book provides an identification guide to the vegetables of the world, together with essential information on varieties, including what to look for when buying and how to prepare and store them.  There are beautiful illustrations of over 180 types and varieties of vegetables, along with the history of each, and nutritional information. 
One of my favorite seed catalogs is from Nichols Garden Nursery in Albany, Oregon.  They have been around for over 60 years and cater to the home gardener.  You will find endless varieties of vegetable and flower seeds, along with plants, cookbooks, garden accessories, herbal personal care products, spices, fragrant oils, cheese making kits and books, home brewing and wine making needs, and teas.  Go to their website,  to read more and order a catalog.  Happy Gardening!

I have to say happy birthday today to my little brother, Ken, who is  youngest of the my three brothers.  Ken and his wife Amy live right up the road from where my favorite Point Reyes blue cheese is made.  Happy Birthday, Ken – and you will always be my little brother Kenny, no matter how old we are!


8 Responses to Ready, Set, Plant!

  1. March 22, 2011 at 5:21 am #

    I order my seeds from Renee’s Garden–Love their orange cherry tomatoes–they are so sweet and especially good if you go and pick and eat them after the sun has basked on them and warmed them up. A great afternoon snack. I also get my purple tomatillo seeds from them–the purple ones are sweeter and tastier than the grocery store variety. Also get my Sunzilla sunflower seeds from them–I’ve had sunflowers 16′ tall and I am lucky how the sun rises and sets so the flowers always are facing in the right direction (as they do follow the sun) so we can see them.

  2. March 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    I ordered the seed catalog (like I need another one!) and mentioned that I learned about it on your blog.

    We’re a bit ahead of you weatherwise. I plan to add the compost and first feeding this weekend, then (hopefully) plant peas, salad greens, and the first batch of radishes and carrots next week. I’m being very optimistic that spring is really here. The little buds on the crabapple and cherry trees, the stepped up activity at the turtle crossing in front of our house, and the apparent decision by Mr. and Mrs. Goose to make the pond across the street their family’s new home are hopeful signs.

  3. March 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    What’s one more catalog, right? I think you will enjoy it. My garden will be way behind yours! So nice you can plant soon.

  4. March 22, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Barb – 16 feet tall?? Wow! That’s amazing! I will have to google Renee’s Garden. I also grew purple tomatillos once, and got the seeds from Nichols. I stopped planting them because they would take over the garden, and mine is not very big.

  5. March 22, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    Those sunflowers sound amazing. I picked up a package of red sunflower seeds on my last trip to Rural King. Hoping they do well. Since I’m on a mission to explore my French culinary heritage, I’ve ordered a lot of my seeds from L’Atelier Vert ( I grew purple tomatillos last year. Insanely crazy plants. I pulled one of the plants out because it was strangling my beloved zebra tomato plant. If you have an interest in heirloom tomatoes and peppers (mostly hot but some sweet), take a look at She has lots of unusual varieties. I’m so happy that gardening season is almost upon us!

  6. March 22, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    Great comments, ladies. I could learn so much from the both of you!

  7. March 23, 2011 at 5:26 am #

    Thanks for all the good suggestions. I agree that the tomatillos take over–but the purple ones are so good it’s worth it. I moved alot of my plants to my deck in containers so I have more room in my main garden. I also grow lettuce on my deck in a shaded area covered with netting and it works out great. I used to plant peas but a few years ago when I went out to harvest (I waited a few days to let them get a little larger) all I had left was bare stems–some animal decided that they were ready to harvest. The Sunzillas only produce one flower so they are large–I’ve had flowers that were almost around 20″ round.

  8. March 23, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    Barb, I should think about some container planting. I also had the same problem with little critters and peas!

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