Saturday, January 14, 2012

Time To Start Seeds

Although it's hard to believe with icy winds blowing outside, the 2012 gardening season is underway. We received our seed order from Southern Exposure this week, and spent a fun hour last evening dividing up the order with a friend who has a great little food garden within walking distance of downtown Knoxville. Here are the new cultivars we picked to try this year:

Beet, Chioggia--An Italian heirloom that is red and white striped, like a target, when cut into rounds. Organic seed.

Lettuce 'Oakleaf'-an old favorite
Lettuce, Deer Tongue--Also known as "Matchless," this looseleaf  variety is renowned for flavor. Organic seed.

Lettuce, Oakleaf--An old favorite that is very reliable.

Pea, Blackeye, Whipporwill--We picked this heirloom Southern pea because it was grown by one of our heroes, Thomas Jefferson. We plan to grow it on a new section of garden bed that has not yet developed good soil fertility. Not only will we get a crop, hopefully, we will be adding nitrogen to the soil, thanks to the bacteria growing on the plant's roots.

Pepper, Red Cherry--Ideal for pickling, this variety is also being grown for plant sales. Organic seed.

Pepper, Ashe County Pimento--Another one destined for relish that we will also offer through the nursery. Organic seed.

Pepper, Anaheim--Besides offering them as plants, we intend to make chilies rellenos out of these, at least a couple of times during the season! Organic seed.

Pepper, Fish Pepper--We were sold by the catalog description, offering variegated foliage and plenty of heat. We want to offer these as plants, too, but you never know until you try how they are going to like growing here. So, no promises, but we will try.

Tomato, Marglobe Improved--This is a classic canning tomato that people have been growing in the Tennessee Valley for many years. Hard to beat for taste, too. Hybrid.

Tomato, Amy's Sugar Gem--A sweet salad tomato that sounded too good to pass up.

Tomato, Black Plum--A paste type with the flavors associated with "black" tomatoes. Rich and complex, like Cherokee Purple. Organic seed.

Herb, Summer Savory--Seed for this annual herb, delicious in green bean dishes and elsewhere, is sometimes hard to find. We hope to offer plants. Organic seed.

Greens, Watercress--We ordered seeds in hopes of growing this at the edge of our new pond, if we ever get the pond finished!

We will be starting lettuces, onions and brassicas next week. Time to get gardening!

Local Food Report
This week's check of local produce on offer at Three Rivers Market turned up another beautiful batch of oyster and shiitake mushrooms from Sevier County. For those interested in growing their own shiitake, there were also pre-inoculated logs, with instructions, from Everything Mushrooms. I will be visiting their store on Sevier Avenue next week.

Organic leaf lettuce from Loudon County, and sweet potatoes from Grainger rounded out the fresh offerings.

The market has a great selection of meat and dairy products from local and regional producers. Benton's Country Ham is back in stock, for example, and it probably won't last long.

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