After a very dry December and January, it looks as though winter has finally arrived in Coeur d’Alene. A lovely blanket of snow has finally covered the garden and will help to insulate the ground against the bitter-cold temps that are predicted for the next week.
For me, there is nothing so satisfying as paging through seed catalogs while the snow flies outside my window. This mid-winter ritual of planning the garden, along with selecting the heirloom tomato varieties that we’ll grow and sell, usually extends over several days. I couldn’t do it without three trusted seed catalogs — Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Irish Eyes, and Seed Savers Exchange. These well-worn publications are my gardening bibles, reference manuals, and the sources of all the seeds that become plants for sale at The Second Street Chicken Ranch.
Each year I search for new open-pollinated and heirloom tomato varieties to add to my “tried-and-true favorites” list. One of the joys of gardening is trying something new and different! This year, we’re expanding our Heirloom Tomato Collection to include more cherry-type tomato plants in a rainbow of colors. I’m especially eager to try ‘Blue Berries,’ a deep purple cherry from Wild Boar Farms, and ‘Pink Bumble Bee,’ a vibrant fire-engine red cherry with golden orange striping from Artisan Seeds. Both are early (60 – 70 days) and should be well suited to north Idaho. We’ll also offer ‘Mexico Midget,’ a super prolific red cherry, that was requested by a Farmers Market customer. Once again, so many tomatoes…so little space!
Yes, garden space always seems like an issue (land, I need more land!), so this year we are offering a variety of veggie and tomato plants that are perfect for small-space or container gardening. These plant starts are all grown from open-pollinated or heirloom seeds (no hybrids, no GMO’s) that are naturally compact in size. Included will be a cucumber, pepper, zucchini, pea and tomato–so no matter how small your space is, you can still grow a heirloom garden!
It may be mid-winter, but it’s not too early to start thinking and planning your 2014 garden! Stay tuned…a complete list of all the heirloom tomato and veggie plants that we’ll be offering for sale this year will be listed here in just a few weeks. Until then, bundle up and think spring!