With half a dozen snowstorms before the groundhog predicted spring is six weeks away and half that number of feet of seasonal accumulation, this has been an old-fashioned winter.
So it’s not surprising that my thoughts are on the summer growing season. And specifically on heirloom seeds.
Maybe that need to look past the winter wonderland is why seed companies are already sending their catalogs, which recipients eagerly devour. We send in orders not for seeds, but for seeds which will grow into picture-perfect plants.
I must confess to being an early bird. My seeds—from Missouri-based Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds—have arrived already. Soon, I will put together a planting schedule.
Why would I purchase any seeds when I have a community-supported agriculture (CSA) share? Because fresh herbs are my preference for homemade stock, pesto, tea, and for general cooking. Because the herbs currently in my pantry predate the American Revolution. Because the herb in the share box is often wasted because I cannot align my cooking with that herb. Finally, because I want to appease my inner farmer. So this year, I opted to grow mint, rosemary, basil, thyme, marjoram, and parsley seeds selected from Baker Creek.
A few people who know me know I cannot grow a fruit or vegetable. The best yield of my attempts with tomatoes, carrots, and peas: 17 vines, 1 pod, and 2 peas. Oddly, I can successfully grow flowers and have limited growing experience with basil and mint. Apparently—and embarrassingly, because I am a descendant of farmers—farming is not part of my DNA gene sequence. Grandpas Timothy and Stephen would not be happy, hence my reliance on Tinicum CSA.
My curiosity about heirloom plants was piqued by a radio show which mentioned that some homeowners wanted gardens with flowers dating to the time their older home was built. Since that introduction, I’ve learned that as seed catalogs promote hybrid plants with shorter growth times, increased yields, and/or improved tolerance of extreme weather conditions, there is little discussion about nutrition!
Heirlooms, which are open pollinators, can offer gardens and gardeners increased biodiversity, better flavor, and natural pest resistance. Seeds from these plants can be passed down through generations, for centuries. Heirloom plants carry the authenticity of history. I love the way that knowing I could be growing the same herbs as Grandma Theresa connects me to my past.
Why support Baker Creek? Because the
company supports the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum in Mansfield, Missouri by creating and maintaining a garden representative of what the Wilders would have grown. There’s even a chicken coop. How cool is that? It has been nearly 20 years since I was last in Mansfield. I think it’s time to revisit.