One Innocuous Little Box

It was sitting on our front porch when we got home last night – tiny, almost too small to be noticed. It looks so innocent, doesn’t it?

But what wonders it holds! How much work could such a teeny little box require? It’s no bigger than a handpie. Completely harmless.

They wrap the seed packets with past issues of their seed catalogues – very nice and neat. Adorable. Quite doable, size-wise… right?

Oh. Oh, my. Oh dear.

How many seeds have I ordered, again?

I suspect I will be able to freeze many left-over seeds and use them again next year, and still have an overflowing garden this year. This will be good, though – I wanted to make sure I had plenty to share with family, friends, co-workers, neighbors… anyone driving buy with an open car window I could lob zucchini into…

Seeds are miraculous things – the entirety of everything the plant will become, right here, in the palm of my hand. Amazing. Genetics and DNA are endlessly fascinating things, and the more I understand of them, the more entranced I become. On the one hand, I could never possibly understand everything that goes into the making of a seed; on the other, my body has made my own half-seeds without any conscious thought. Half the time, I feel like I’m just along for the ride in my body – it’s truly spectacular stuff we all do every second of every day. It doesn’t matter whether or not we know what the mitochondrial cristae are for – they know what they’re doing. Heck, mitochondria used to be organisms wholly separate from us, which we assimilated and formed symbiotic relations with and which are now essential to our lives.

But back to the seeds!

I’ve been doing all of my flat-planting right here:

That tomato flat is pretty nifty – all those little netted peat pots were less than 1″ high when I bought it – 26 cups of water later, they’re almost 4″ tall and ready to coax tomatoes into being. Nifty.

I’ve no earthly idea if I’m doing this planting thing correctly – how does one truly tell 1/4″ from 1/8″ planting depth when the seeds themselves are minuscule? What if they’re 3/4″ deep, or, god forbid, a full inch? How rocket-sciency is this stuff, anyhow? In nature, they fell on the ground and had to sprout from there, or from the poop in which they were deposited. Surely give or take a 1/4″ or a 1/2″ won’t mean utter catastrophe… right? And what about temperature? I have some heat lamps going… I seriously have no idea what I’m doing here. It will be a miracle if anything hatches.

As of tonight, I’ve got about 1000 seeds planted into 250 little peat pots. There are so many left over and so many more that will get directly sown after things warm up, the ground thaws and I borrow Dad’s rototiller and chop that garden’s grassy topcoat into tiny bits.

So – what am I planting?

Let’s see here:

Cat.No.  Quan.   Price   Total    Seed Type, Variety
11301       2       $2.85  $5.70   BEAN, RUNNER, Scarlet Runner
13102       1       $2.05  $2.05   BEAN, SNAP (BUSH), Blue Lake 274
13103       1       $2.15  $2.15   BEAN, SNAP (BUSH), Contender (Buff Valentine)
13110       1       $2.15  $2.15   BEAN, SNAP (BUSH), Provider
13351       1       $2.15  $2.15   BEAN, SNAP (BUSH), Royalty Purple Pod
13503       1       $2.15  $2.15   BEAN, SNAP (POLE), Kentucky Wonder
13512       1       $2.85  $2.85   BEAN, SNAP (POLE), Grandma Nellie’s Ylw Mushroom
13753       1       $2.85  $2.85   BEAN, SNAP (POLE), Louisiana Purple Pod
14102       1       $2.25  $2.25   BEAN, LIMA (BUSH), Fordhook 242

I did not want to find myself without a steady source of beans, apparently. Ok, really, here’s what I was thinking – I want to try a bunch of different sorts to see which ones grew best and tasted best. So, we’re trying a wide variety. Also, the Scarlet Runner is a favorite of hummingbirds, which is another plus. And how could I not try a yellow bean that tastes like a mushroom? I stopped short at fava beans, because I hear they’re a monstrosity to hull and shuck. And I like the plants themselves, too – big, pretty green leaves with delicate vines. Nice flowers, too. It’s an all-around winning plant.

15204       1       $2.05  $2.05   PEA, SHELLING (DWARF), Green Arrow
15301       1       $2.05  $2.05   PEA, SNOW (TALL), Mammoth Melting Sugar
15501       1       $2.15  $2.15   PEA, SNAP (TALL), Sugar Snap
16103       1       $2.25  $2.25   PEA, SOUTHERN, Queen Anne Blackeye Pea

I really like peas – fresh, raw, whole, souped, on pasta, in salads, in stir-fry, anywhere. They were out of two varieties of peas I wanted. Still, I think this should be plenty… right?  Not one clue what to expect from the blackeye peas, whether they’ll like Michigan’s climate, whether I’ll like them. Regardless, they’re a good green manure crop if nothing else.

Did I buy enough stakes for all these plants? No? Crap.

I bet we have enough long branches lying around I could build some trellis with, though.

What else?
21102       1       $1.95  $1.95   BROCCOLI, De Cicco
21105       1       $2.25  $2.25   BROCCOLI, Waltham 29

We like broccoli, but I’m not certain it’s going to grow well. Thus, just two sorts. Into the flats they went tonight.

22102       1       $2.05  $2.05   CABBAGE, Early Jersey Wakefield
22103       1       $1.99  $1.99   CABBAGE, Premium Late Flat Dutch
22104       1       $1.99  $1.99   CABBAGE, RED, Red Acre

In my garden diagram, I have cabbage everywhere. We love cabbage, and I want to have plenty of it at all times. I planted the Early and Red last night in flats. I have no idea if I’m doing it right. I hadn’t planned to plant the late flat Dutch until, well, later in the year; however, I spilled water all over the packet and figured I’d better plant some of them now, in case that ruins them for later.
24103       1       $1.99  $1.99   COLLARDS, Morris Heading
25104       1       $2.50  $2.50   KALE, Hanover Salad (Spring)
25106       1       $2.35  $2.35   KALE, Lacinato (Dinosaur)

The kale got put into flats last night, but I think the collards will be direct-seeded, simply due to lack of space under the lights. Having recently discovered Roasted Kale Chips, I am hooked. Barbara promises me kale will become even more appealing as my body learns how to eat all over again.

26201       1       $2.95  $2.95   KOHLRABI, Gigant Winter
27104       1       $1.99  $1.99   MUSTARD, Mizuna, Early
27105       1       $2.50  $2.50   MUSTARD, Chinese Thick-Stem Mustard

I don’t even know that I’ve ever had fresh mustard greens, but I sure do like the sound of them. Also, who doesn’t love kohlrabi?

28108       1       $1.99  $1.99   RADISH, Sparkler White Tip
28109       1       $2.45  $2.45   RADISH, FALL, Misato Rose
29103       1       $1.99  $1.99   TURNIP, White Egg
29104       1       $1.99  $1.99   TURNIP, FALL, Amber Globe (Yellow Globe)
29501       1       $1.99  $1.99   RUTABAGA, American Purple Top Yellow

Yay for root veggies! Even if I’m somewhat ambivalent about turnips!

31105       1       $2.25  $2.25   BEET, Lutz Green Leaf (Winter Keeper)

Historically, beets and I have not gotten along, flavor-wise. I’m willing to give them another shot, but I am not planning many of them. I got excited about the prospect of storing them in the ground during the winter months – I mean, that’s just kind of neat. There are other veggies we can do that with, too, even without making a clamp. This recipe for beet hummus might just turn me around though. They’re so pretty – I really want to like beets. They’re such an earthy, down-homey vegetable. Let’s be friends.

32102       1       $2.05  $2.05   CHARD, SWISS, Ruby Red (Rhubarb Chard)
32951       1       $2.45  $2.45   CHARD, SWISS, Rainbow (Five Color Silverbeet)

Chard is another of those vegetables  about which I have very mixed feelings. It’s bitter as hell, but so healthy. These will be pretty, so even if they go largely uneaten, they’ll look nice and act as companion plants.

35106       1       $2.25  $2.25   CARROT, Scarlet Nantes
35108       1       $1.99  $1.99   CARROT, Imperator (Tendersweet)
35113       1       $2.85  $2.85   CARROT, Cosmic Purple  BACKORDERED
36101       1       $2.15  $2.15   CELERY, Golden Self-Blanching

In my most humble of opinions, one can never have too many carrots or too much celery. I devoted an entire 200-plant flat to the celery last night. Related – celery seeds are INSANELY SMALL. I gave up counting them and just sprinkled them into the little pots. I’ll thin out as needed.
37101       1       $1.99  $1.99   PARSLEY, Dark Green Italian (Plain Leaf)

This is mainly for use as a companion plant, with assorted small forays into the kitchen. Apparently, it is quite persnickety to germinate.

38101       1       $1.99  $1.99   PARSNIP, Hollow Crown (Sugar)

I’m on the fence regarding parsnips – I want to like them, and sometimes, if they’re cooked Just Right, I do. Other times, they just seem a bit odd.
39201       1       $13.95  $13.95   SEED POTATO, Caribé, 2.5 lb
39301       1       $13.95  $13.95   SEED POTATO, Yukon Gold, 2.5 lb
39501       1       $13.95  $13.95   SEED POTATO, Cranberry Red, 2.5 lb

The potatoes will be shipped separately, in the middle of April. While I considered the boxed-potato plant approach (wherein one builds a frame and keeps filling it up with dirt to extend the plant’s roots,) that seems like too much work given everything else I need to do. I think I’ll just plant them normally and mound the dirt up as warranted.
41103       1       $2.95  $2.95   CORN, SWEET, Black Mexican (Mexican Sweet, Black Iroquois)

The idea of having corn growing in our garden makes me happy. I grew up surrounded by corn fields and find them comforting. This will just be a little 6-row patch, but still. Nice. Mike Neir is not a fan of corn, so more for me! The cucumbers, melons and pumpkins will be planted in amidst the corn to keep the racoons off the ears – we hope.
46103       1       $2.85  $2.85   PEPPER, BELL (SWEET), Sweet Chocolate (Choco)
46109       1       $2.85  $2.85   PEPPER, BELL (SWEET), Yellow Belle
46117       1       $2.70  $2.70   PEPPER, SPICE, Hungarian Paprika
46507       1       $2.20  $2.20   PEPPER, HOT, Hungarian Wax (Hot Banana)
46517       1       $2.75  $2.75   PEPPER, HOT, Chinese Five-Color
46601       1       $2.50  $2.50   PEPPER, SPICE, Aji Dulce

The peppers are largely experimental. Mike doesn’t like Bell peppers, but I like them raw.  Once cooked, they do Very Bad Things to my stomach. I do enjoy good hot peppers, though, so I’m looking forward to the spice and hot varieties. The Sweet Chocolate variety is purple and brown – how neat is that?
49124       1       $2.85  $2.85   TOMATO, June Pink (Pink Earliana)
49125       1       $2.65  $2.65   TOMATO, WINTER STORAGE, Long Keeper
49126       1       $2.35  $2.35   TOMATO, Marglobe VF (Marglobe Improved)
49131       1       $2.95  $2.95   TOMATO, Old German
49138       1       $2.45  $2.45   TOMATO, Roma VF
49172       1       $2.55  $2.55   TOMATO, Lollipop
49182       1       $2.50  $2.50   TOMATO, Dr. Carolyn
49187       1       $2.75  $2.75   TOMATO, Mule Team
49196       1       $2.35  $2.35   TOMATO, Glacier
49210       1       $2.50  $2.50   TOMATO, Grace Lahman’s Pink (Lahman Pink)
49221       1       $2.50  $2.50   TOMATO, Barnes Mountain Pink

I completely went sideways on The Whole Tomato Thing. They all sounded so good! I wanted to try them all, but there were probably over 100 varietals. I picked a couple from several catagories (cherry, pink, red, heirloom, yellow, paste) to get a feel for what works and is tasty. They all need to be seeded into flats immediately – I need more flats, more lights and more table space. For now, I have three or four plants per species in the pots.

51108       1       $2.25  $2.25   CUCUMBER, Marketmore 76
51110       1       $2.50  $2.50   CUCUMBER, Empereur Alexandre

Mike Neir loves cucumbers, whereas I really don’t get them. I don’t intensely dislike them, but they’re not my thing. More for him! Planted into flats last night, will get transplanted to stakes when they’re ready.

52105       1       $2.35  $2.35   MUSKMELON, Golden Jenny
52113       1       $2.50  $2.50   MUSKMELON, Ice Cream (Green Machine)

Mmm, melons! Planted into flats last night, ten plants each.

53101       1       $2.35  $2.35   SQUASH, SUMMER , Early Prolific Straightneck
53105       1       $2.35  $2.35   SQUASH, SUMMER , Zucchini, Black Beauty

Mike Neir hates squash – the texture offends his sensibilities. I’m not a huge fan of summer-type squash, but oh boy do I loves me some winter squash. I got the Straightneck just because, and the Zucchini as a squash bug trap plant (and I might nibble on the fruit, too.) I have haunting visions of whiffle-bat-sized zukes in my childhood garden, so only 1 or 2 of these will get put out.

53117       1       $2.20  $2.20   SQUASH, WINTER, Delicata Zeppelin
53301       1       $2.35  $2.35   SQUASH, WINTER, Buttercup, Burgess
53305       1       $2.35  $2.35   PUMPKIN, Rouge Vif D’Étampes (Cinderella)
53601       1       $2.35  $2.35   SQUASH, WINTER, Waltham Butternut
53604       1       $2.55  $2.55   PUMPKIN, Seminole

Mmm, that’s the good stuff right there! Ok, so we didn’t strictly need the pumpkins, but I hate buying canned puree – fresh is ever so much better. Plus, I’m interested to see the differences between the two species.

55103       1       $2.90  $2.90   WATERMELON, Amish Moon And Stars
55113       1       $2.90  $2.90   WATERMELON, Black Tail Mountain

For those hot summer days, just a couple of plants apiece.
62101       1       $2.85  $2.85   LETTUCE, LOOSELEAF, Australian Yellow [leaf]
62103       1       $2.75  $2.75   LETTUCE, LOOSELEAF, Deer Tongue (Matchless)
62701       1       $2.50  $2.50   LETTUCE, ROMAINE, Cosmo
62803       1       $2.50  $2.50   LETTUCE, LOOSELEAF, Bronze Arrow
62951       1       $2.75  $2.75   LETTUCE, MIX, Wild Garden Lettuce Mix
64101       1       $1.95  $1.95   GREENS, Arugula

Ok, I went a little crazy with the lettuce, too  – but again, for the sampling! And the succession plantings. A bunch got planted tonight, more will get direct-seeded throughout the year.
65109       1       $11.50  $11.50   GARLIC PLANTING STOCK, BRAIDING, Italian Softneck

The garlic won’t be shipped until fall, alas. And I’m kind of mystified how that’s going to work… I mean, one plants the bulb, which is also the part one eats…
66103       1       $1.99  $1.99   ONION, DRY BULB, Yellow Sweet Spanish
66105       1       $3.25  $3.25   ONION, DRY BULB, Red Wethersfield
66401       1       $2.10  $2.10   LEEK, American Flag (Broad London)
66501       1       $2.10  $2.10   ONION, BUNCHING , Evergreen Hardy White
66502       1       $1.99  $1.99   ONION, BUNCHING , White Spear
66604       1       $9.95  $9.95   ONION, MULTIPLYING PLANTING STOCK, Egyptian Walking Onions (Tree Onions)
66708       1       $8.50  $8.50   SHALLOT PLANTING STOCK, Grey Griselle Shallot

Yay for onions! Some of which only ship in the fall. Boo, having to wait! Yay learning patience! Dry bulbs and leeks are planted, the bunchers get direct-seeded.

67103       1       $2.35  $2.35   SPINACH, Winter Bloomsdale
67105       1       $2.25  $2.25   SPINACH, Bloomsdale

Lots of spinach planned, too. Love the spinach. I may build us a cold frame for continual winter harvesting.
71103       1       $1.99  $1.99   HERB / NATIVE PLANT, Basil, Dark Opal
71105       1       $1.99  $1.99   HERB / NATIVE PLANT, Basil, Lemon
71106       1       $2.10  $2.10   HERB / NATIVE PLANT, Basil, Lettuce Leaf
71214       1       $1.99  $1.99   HERB / NATIVE PLANT, Chives
71227       1       $2.40  $2.40   HERB / NATIVE PLANT, Fennel, Florence
71231       1       $2.15  $2.15   HERB / NATIVE PLANT, Lavender, English Munstead
71241       1       $1.99  $1.99   HERB / NATIVE PLANT, Sage, Common
71245       1       $1.99  $1.99   HERB / NATIVE PLANT, Soapwort

These are all largely experimental, too, to see how well they fare in an herb garden. Also, “Soapwort” just sounds awesome and is fun to say. Seriously, say it out loud a few times.

73101       1       $6.50  $6.50   COVER CROP, Buckwheat

This is going in the back 1/3 of the garden to enrich the soil for next year and to feed the bees this year.

We also have rhubarb, strawberries and blueberries purchased locally, along with catnip, jalapeno and serrano peppers.

Now if I could just find a way to grow mangos and bananas, I’d be all set!

Meanwhile, back in reality-land, where I live in non-tropical Michigan and cannot grow those particular luxuries, I am exhausted and need sleep.

Goodnight, little seeds – work hard, be strong. I’ll do my best for you.

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3 responses to One Innocuous Little Box


  1. Oh My God!
    We plant 8-10 different things. (Some of those things being lettuce assortments with multiple types.) Wow! I look forward to pictures if you can spare the time from weeding.

  2. O
    M
    G

    and holy frickole!!!!!!!! Really? I cannot believe the expansive list and variety you’re going to plant on your first go-round with the garden! AND raise chickens. And eat, sleep and work. LMAO!

    I’m with the above poster, and can’t WAIT to see pictures of this garden! How much space did you rototill up? And I guess you’ve been learning/remembering which of the plants want to be up on little berm islands and all? Like watermelons… they wanna be perched up on a mounded row.

    I see I need to check in on your more often here!! 🙂

    • Erin D.

      Hey lady – the garden is 4,000 square feet, but I’ve only planted about 2/3 of the total space, I think. I ran out of steam. 🙂 It really could be a full-time job, man – but I’d totally love doing it. If we had more land, I’d think about setting up a little produce booth at the side of the road. I’ve got the hilling plants hilled up, and the climbing plants trellised, although not one of my watermelons has germinated yet, which is really disappointing. Alas!

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