Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Big Dig

The 2014 gardening season is still a ways away for me here in the frozen wasteland known as Iowa, but my brain is hard at work planning. We have tilled up part of the yard and grew in-ground veggies not so successfully. We have had two summers of container gardening with mixed results. The extreme heat we sometimes get here makes it very difficult to keep adequate moisture in the pots. Watering two and three times a day is expensive with rural water.

So this year I am going to give straw bale gardening a try, as well as raised beds using- get this- kiddie pools! One of my neighbors has successfully raised a garden using kiddie pools for several years so.....sign me up! This project will of course mean LOTS of dirt, sweat and guaranteed- tears. Mine will not be on a rooftop and will have drainage holes (large holes) drilled in the bottom to allow for deeper root growth.

Picture courtesy of Inhabitat
This is also the time of year gardeners talk a lot about seeds and plants. I know a lot of seed savers. lots of people trade and form trade groups. The seed and garden catalogs start appearing in our mailboxes. It's more fun than Christmas if you ask me. Something that is very important to me, as a rural resident, is supporting local small businesses. There are a few greenhouses near my home that I like to visit, and one of them sells bulk seed the old fashioned way- scoop em out and weigh them.

As the deluge of catalogs rains down on me I'm almost overwhelmed at the choices. Flipping through one catalog I am trying to decide between 45 different hybrids of sweetcorn. 45!! That's a lot of comparison shopping. Tomato seeds- holy moly, there are thousands of heirlooms and hybrids, determinate, indeterminate, so many decisions. The colorful pictures suck me in and make it oh so difficult for a seed hoarder, err, I mean gardener to decide.

I recently discovered a wonderful source for heirloom, organic, non-GMO seeds. JM's Garden is a small locally-owned business in Iowa that offers a somewhat small, but always changing and growing selection of seeds as well as educational materials for gardeners. I recently ordered from them and received my order within just a couple days. I was so happy with everything. Safely packaged, clearly labeled perfect seeds- just waiting for Mother Nature to cooperate a little bit. I HIGHLY recommend giving them a visit. They often have great deals too- buy one get one, and things like that.

I also often browse the catalog from the Seed Savers' Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. They have heirloom vegetables you can't find anywhere else. Their catalog is vast and contains a lot of beautiful flowers as well.

Territorial Seed Company is another on the the biggies. They DID have the elusive Mexican Gherkins that I have been looking for and had good prices on larger quantities of seed- like peas. I want LOTS of peas !!

If you're looking for fruits Stark Brothers is the catalog to check out. They have a great selection and reasonable prices. Berries, apples, grapes, and even a few beautiful flowers make up their offerings and seemed to be geared to my gardening zone.

Of course, I also have a Burpee catalog, but I use that mostly as a checkoff list. I can find Burpee seeds at many stores, so I'm not likely to order online, an again, that goes against my preference to support a smaller, local business.


  1. the spring planting season can't come soon enough.

    1. Tell me about it !!!! Mother Nature needs to lay off !!!