Because of 2020 and all the COVID related shortages—stores are even running out of toilet paper again as people are stocking up for impending lockdowns—I ordered my garden seeds for next year already. I usually order a week or two after Thanksgiving so I am not really that early. I have seeds leftover from last year for zucchini (what insane person would plant 20 zucchini plants?) and radish. And I save seeds—peas, marigolds, zinnias, beans beans beans, black-eyed peas. Nonetheless, I always need more of something and I am always eager to try new seeds.

We have stopped growing tomatoes and peppers since we get a lot in our csa share. We also decided to not grow kale—between what we had in the garden and what we got in our csa box we had too much, yes one can have too much kale—and no lettuce either. We are going to let the perennial and annual greens that grow naturally in our garden supplement the kale and lettuce we get in our csa box—arugula/rocket, which turns out to be perennial and also readily seeds itself everywhere, curly dock, garden sorrel, wood sorrel, and purslane. All of these, except for the arugula, are considered weeds but are tasty and highly nutritious and require zero work on my part except to eat them in order to keep them under control.

All that to say, this year is one of the smallest seed orders I have ever made. So what did I get? I got more carrot seeds (oxheart). And sunflower (Black Russian) too because between squirrels and chickens I have not been able to save any viable seeds these last few years and I have had no volunteers. Purple cabbage seems to take so very long to grow and prefers cool weather and our springs have become unpredictable—late season blizzard one year and 90F the next—I am trying a green heirloom cabbage called Charleston Wakefield that is tolerant of heat and humidity. I am hoping late summer next year will mean coleslaw and homemade sauerkraut!

Since we have had bad luck with squirrels eating all our small sugar pie pumpkins, we are going to try two different heirloom pumpkins that are large and not 100% pumpkin looking. Will the squirrels be fooled? I won’t put my hot pepper spray into storage just yet. Dickinson pumpkin is a 10-30 pound oblong tan colored heirloom pumpkin grown since 1835. It is the pumpkin of choice for the pie industry.

The other pumpkin, Marina Di Chioggia comes from Venice by way of South America and Spain. It has a long history dating back to the 5th century (you can read about it at the link). This pumpkin is green and warty on the outside and deep yellow-orange on the inside. It weighs up to 10 pounds and is a good keeper—up to 6 months! That means at the end of the garden season when we are frantically preserving all our produce, we can store this in a cool, dry place and not worry about it for awhile.

Now for the beans. I mentioned wanting to try some new kinds of beans. It turns out lima beans are pole beans so they grow up and not out and therefore don’t need a huge amount of garden space. I am going to give speckled calico limas, also called Christmas limas, a try. The beans are about the size of a quarter and are red and white. Also going to try Iroquois skunk pole beans. These were grown by the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) of the Great Lakes for hundreds of years. They can be used dry or picked young and eaten as snap beans. I plan to dry them. They are speckled black and white, thus the skunk name, and are allegedly “delicious and creamy.”

I was going to get some winged beans and fava beans too, but both of these are also pole beans. Since the skunk and limas are pole beans and I already grow two other pole beans, that’s double the trellising I have to build next year. So the favas and winged beans will have to wait for 2022.

Oh, and one more bean. I usually save seeds and grow a bush bean variety called “strike.” It is an early bush bean and starts producing about 2 weeks before the pole beans get going. They do ok in my garden but not great. So I have decided to try a different bush bean, an heirloom called stringless green pod. I can eat them even if they get a little too fat because I missed picking them one day. Hopefully I won’t regret the change. I tried a different bean than strike a few years ago and was really disappointed, hardly got any beans at all. Fingers crossed!

That’s it, that’s all the seeds. I know it might still sound like a lot to some, but for me and my garden, it is so few that I feel like I forgot something. Now I wait and dream. Sometime between Solstice and New Year’s Day I will be sitting down with my garden “map” and index cards and planning out where everything will get planted in spring.

If anyone is wondering, I purchase my seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.