Thursday, February 11, 2010

Things learned while ordering seeds

I am finally getting around to ordering seeds, once again, through Fedco. I'm aware of the existence of other reputable companies, but have decided to stick with Fedco because of 1) convenience--this was the only catalog I have received and I have been too busy to explore alternatives, 2) success I've had with most of the varieties I've purchased, and 3) their cool catalog, minimalist in style with its black-and-white newsprint, but full of commentary and interesting factoids. Yesterday, while anticipating the Boston snowstorm that wasn't, I tore out the form and began painstakingly transcribing the correct codes for my upcoming crops. I ended up with a few of last year's successes, a few that have worked well for other gardeners in the area, and other vegetables/herbs and varieties I haven't yet grown. I'm still compiling my list, but for this post I thought I'd share some information, new to me.

Black Prince Tomato: Fedco had not offered this variety for thirteen years because when it was first sold, the company "could not find a market for it." Now Google "black prince tomato" and most of the links up front are from other seed merchants, probably due to the popularity of heirlooms nowadays, and for the variety's rich flavor. According to one online source, this Siberian tomato originated in Irkutsk, Russia, and is known for its health benefits due to its abundance of the antioxidant lypocene. Though other reports indicate that the plant has grown successfully in western and southern regions of the US, I'm going to give the Black Prince a chance here in New England. Since it also grows well in cold climates in Russia, maybe if I try growing it, Murphy's Law will take effect and we'll end up having a warmer summer.Catnip: The fact that our cat (above, one of my daughter's many photos) goes crazy for catnip is enough reason to order it, but the Fedco catalog states that this herb can calm mild stomach disorders, aid sleep, and lower fevers if added to tea. Rats hate it, and crushing and rubbing it on the skin can repel mosquitoes better than DEET (according to an Iowa State University study).

Sugar Ann Snap Pea: I had mixed results growing it last season but it could have been worse. Fedco's crop was blown away by a hurricane. As a result, it's not available in 2010, so I'm ordering Cascadia instead.


Bryan Bunch said...

I already have my Fedco seeds and also those from Kitchen Garden Seeds, but I have not even opened the packages. I skipped all of Fedco's tomatoes--although very tempted by Black Prince--but hope to start the 8 varieties I ordered from Kitchen Garden in about a week. Fedco is definitely the better bargain, but I was not taken by their tomato selection except for the aforementioned Black Prince.

Heirloom Club said...

You bring up what I'd consider to be an excellent point, Fedco's catalog has a wealth of information. I've been trying to decide if I too wanted to start capturing this type of information. After reading your post, I think it's really essential because it's jam packed with great info! Thanks for the great reminder.

Daphne said...

I tend to just order from one catalog too. I seem to like Pinetree and Fedco. Probably because both are inexpensive and are New England companies. I also like Fedco because they sell seed to the local farmers and pick seed that is good for our region. I know if I buy from there and they haven't made some comment about how it has to be a warm summer for it to grow here, I'll be just fine.

Sally said...

Bryan: 8 varieties! I may have to check them out during my visit. I know what you mean about the Fedco selection--I have already grown at least half of them and wasn't too enticed by the other half. I ordered only two: I stuck with Rose de Berne because it fared the best last season.

Heirloom Club: I think that's a good idea. I just briefly checked out the varieties on your blog and they look interesting. Look forward to learning more.

Daphne: They also have farmers test out the seeds, too. I feel that if Donna Dyrek can grow them, so can we...

giulietta said...


Great photo of your cat. Not sure I've met this cat yet. Really cute! I don't know anything about seeds so this post has enlightened me. Is that right that we can all eat catnip?

Thx! Giulietta the Muse