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MEEKER | Our continued snowy and cold days in Meeker make me that much more eager for spring and gardening season. Enduring winter days means time to search seed catalogues and start planning.
I learned in 2020 that COVID caused shortages of toilet paper, yeast, and … seeds. Flocks of people embraced gardening while isolating, making seeds hard to find.
This year, I have started my research early, paging through seed catalogues and sites. The choices are endless and once again, I am receiving a great education.
Did you know you can purchase seeds suitable to your growing zone along with hybrids, heirloom, small container friendly, raised bed attuned, and many more specialties? The astounding array of choices makes possible matching seeds to your backyard gardening conditions and preferences.
The entire world of vegetable gardening has come a long way since I was a child. My parents always grew a huge garden with seeds from the local co-op and due to the rich Indiana soil and consistent rain, everything prospered with little help, except many hours of weeding by us kids.
The reward was yearlong home-grown vegetables that had been home canned or frozen. Our meals were always healthy and an appreciation of our summer gardening endeavors. I don’t think I ever tasted a commercially canned pea until I went to college and had to force down a disgusting replica of a pea in the school cafeteria.
Today, committed organizations preserve heritage seeds and remind us that in years past there were many varieties of potatoes, tomatoes, and nearly all plants. One of my favorites is the multi-colored carrot seeds that arrive in one packet. Because carrots grow underground, you never know what color you will harvest until you dig it out of the ground. Surprise!
Every summer I buy some seeds from heritage sites in hopes of helping to restore multiple varieties and honoring past gardening efforts.
I am grateful to be able to purchase seeds that match our harsh Meeker climate. My chief criteria is a 90 day or less maturity for most plants. (Some, like squash, don’t grow that quickly.) I feel lucky if I can plant by early June and then the season shortens quickly with frost conditions often arriving in September.
There are now container friendly seeds. Last year I tried my first patio/container tomato plants, an addition to my seven raised beds. The deer didn’t get them, but the wind blew over many. So, my new plan is to use containers for lower height plants and stake the tomatoes in a raised bed where I hope they’ll do better.
When it comes to gardening, whatever you think might happen, probably won’t. A few years ago, we had a warm spring and I was turning over soil in April and planting seeds by early May. Then, we had a blizzard with freezing temperatures for several days that also froze all my seeds. I started all over in June.
Last year, the combination of continuous 90 degree plus high temps, lack of rain, and smokey air about choked off my plants. Me too.
No matter what you do, some seeds and plants survive and some don’t make it. Every year, I am grateful for any harvest we get.
If you’re tired of COVID, bored with winter, and frustrated with isolation, spend some time with a seed catalogue. We’ll be headed to spring before you know it.
By KAYE SULLIVAN – Special to the Herald Times