Seed Dreams

Sweet Freckles Crenshaw Melon. Golderbse Pea. Depp's Pink Firefly Tomato.

I've just placed our final order for seeds for the upcoming season: a little late, perhaps, as the glasshouse is nearly full of flats with young starts inside already and, truly, we only have so much space... But, the excitement that each seed catalogue brims with this time of year, the beauty and art, the hope and promise each new (to me) variety beckons with is as powerful as a Grecian siren's call to unassuming sailors, thirsty, dreaming. The days are getting longer and, here in Northern California, at least, while we are still praying for rain we are equally and fully lured by the unseasonably warm weather, already spending full days in our gardens, harvesting miner's lettuce, winter broccoli, cauliflower, greens, and setting the table with narcissus. 

I tend to, for better or worse, set aside nearly all other reading materials in the months of January and February. I allow myself to become fully obsessed with garden planning, crop variety choices, seed orders, and seed cleaning. This year, we are especially proud to announce that we are new contributors to one of our very favorite seed catalogues:

This annual publication is printed and shipped to members of Seed Savers Exchange. It lists heirloom and open-pollinated seeds for plants, herbs and flowers: more unique varieties than I've ever seen in one place, actually! Some listed varieties have been completely revived from near-extinction through this important, 35+ year-old network. Backyard gardeners, working cooperatively, were able to sustain varieties by sharing seeds with others who commit to growing them out and re-offering them the following year. An added benefit of obtaining seed from a neighbor or, next best, a specific bio-region that is akin to one's own, is trusting that that specific seed will have properties inherent to it making it more adaptable to your environment. Executive Director of Seed Savers Exchange, John Torgrimson, describes the catalogue by saying: 

[it represents] one of the largest non-governmental seed banks of its kind in the U.S. and is a key player in global efforts to maintain genetic diversity.

This is a powerful network, indeed. What's more, is that Seed Savers has an on-line version of it's Yearbook, for the first time, too. You can view Delphi's seed offerings, and even see photos of some of the crops we grew out for seed in 2013:

. Bozeman Watermelon

. Ghandi Lettuce

. Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash

. Goldrush Currant Tomato

Next year we look forward to offering our first biennial seed: Willis collard greens.

 ‘Willis Collard Greens’ exhibits two distinct types, plants are either with or without purple coloration on the stems and leaves. This color variation is a reflection of the diverse genetic make-up that is often seen in outcrossing crops like collards.

‘Willis Collard Greens’ exhibits two distinct types, plants are either with or without purple coloration on the stems and leaves. This color variation is a reflection of the diverse genetic make-up that is often seen in outcrossing crops like collards.

 This is a 'Willis Collard Greens' plant without purple coloration.

This is a 'Willis Collard Greens' plant without purple coloration.

While we are investing in a small seed crop from our collards for next year, we also fully enjoyed the delectable, tender, emerging seed heads and small leaves toward the top of the stalks, as shown in the photo on the right. Their flavor is somewhat akin to asparagus at this stage. When sliced and cooked for an hour, the stems, at any stage, will be quite tender and fully edible. This info was inspired by Deborah Madison, in her book Vegetable Literacy.