She Turned to the Sunlight and Shook Her Yellow Head

She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
― A.A. MilneWhen We Were Very Young

Thank you Mr. Milne, for the verse.  Thank you husband, for showing me nodding yellow daffodil blooms on this February day.  Hats off to you, Rufous-sided Towhee, for springing me off the couch during my first cup of coffee, just after I ordered my seeds for our first North Carolina garden.

Last night (really this morning) I began to surf the world-wide web during a fit of insomnia.  Despite working 12 days in a row, I popped awake at 2:00 a.m. and thought, “It’s time to ORDER SEEDS!”   The planting date here in the mountains of western North Carolina is about the same as in Illinois, since we are at 2,5oo feet above sea level.  I have to wait until late March or April to start my seeds, early May to harden off my tender green babies, and mid-May to set them in soil.  Speaking of soil, there will be challenges:  A) We have 22 acres of hilly (steep) land with soil ranging from slick red to sandy clay; B) We have about 20 bunnies per acre; and C) I have no knowledge of gardening the mountain soil beyond my two sorry-ass, non-producing, probably GMO tomato plants last year, and my observations of wildflowers that are the same in northern climate.

On the upside, I do have three herbs that never really died back this winter.  Sage, parsley, and garlic chives, all green and anxious to get started again.  Of course the chives can grow in Antarctica, so I mustn’t take credit for them, but the green-all-winter parsley was a nice surprise.

Back to last night:  I surfed a bit and landed at  www.seedsavers.org.  I like what they’re doing and I love heirloom, non-GMO seeds along with the folks who protect and keep them.  The descriptions are good and the choice varied.  From their website:  Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit, 501(c)(3), member supported organization that saves and shares the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage, forming a living legacy that can be passed down through generations.  Our mission is to conserve and promote America’s culturally diverse but endangered food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.  At the heart of Seed Savers Exchange are the dedicated members who have distributed hundreds of thousands of heirloom and open pollinated garden seeds since our founding over 37 years ago. Those seeds now are widely used by seed companies, small farmers supplying local and regional markets, chefs and home gardeners and cooks, alike.

That being said, here is what the Mental Farmer ordered and thinks she will actually get planted this year:

500 seeds:  Arugula, Apollo.  Improved Dutch strain of domesticated rocket. Very large, rounded leaves are high in vitamin C. Excellent taste and rarely bitter.

50 seeds: Bean, Lina Sisco’s Bird Egg. Family heirloom brought to Missouri by covered wagon in the 1880s by Lina’s grandmother. Lina Sisco was one of the six original members of SSE, which was founded in 1975.  Large tan bean with maroon markings.

50 seeds: Bean, Fin de Bagnol OG,  Old gourmet variety of French string bean with delicious round slender pods. Best for eating when picked every 2 or 3 days while still very young and before strings develop. Does well in cool soil. Attractive as tiny gourmet green beans.

250 seeds: Carrot, Paris Market, Nineteenth-century French heirloom. Early round red-orange carrots, 1-2″ in diameter, uniform and very sweet. Does well in shallow or rocky soil. Can also be  grown in containers. Highly sought after by gourmet restaurants and a great seller at markets.

50 seeds: Eggplant, Rosa Bianca, Stunning Italian heirloom. Round 4-6″ fruits are lavender-pink with creamy white shading. Mild in flavor and rarely bitter. Well suited for all of your cooking needs, great for eggplant Parmesan.

100 seeds: Okra, Hill Country Red, South Texas heirloom. Beautiful 6′ tall red-stemmed plants produce wide green pods tinged with red. Full of the good okra flavor popular in the hill regions of the south. Excellent pickling variety.

50 seeds: Tomato, Cherokee Purple, Introduced by North Carolina SSE member Craig Le Houllier in 1991 from seed obtained from J. D. Green of Tennessee. Uniquely colored dusty rose-brown fruits weigh up to 12 ounces. Delicious sweet flesh.

50 seeds: Tomato, Hillbilly Potato Leaf, From Ohio SSE member Jerry Lee Bosner. Absolutely gorgeous bi-color beefsteak tomato, great for slicing. Beautiful yellow 1 pound fruits are streaked with red on the blossom end. Sweet and juicy. Heavy producer.

100 seeds: Swiss Chard, Rhubarb Red OG,  A member of the beet family grown for its edible leaves and stalks. Deep crimson stalks and leaf veins contrast beautifully with dark green heavily crumpled leaves. Ornamental and delicious, excellent in soups and stews.

100 seeds: Sunflower, Tarahumara OG, A well-adapted introduction, most likely of Canadian Mennonite origin, later adopted by the Tarahumara tribe. Solid gold flowers are 8-10″ in diameter. Primarily ivory-colored edible seeds with an occasional striped seed. Tolerant of poor conditions. Plants grow 6-9′ tall.

I have dreams that include acres of wildflowers, lightly cultivated.  And pumpkins and sweet potatoes, because I love ORANGE.  For now I have to figure out what to do with this order from http://www.seedsavers.org.  I am not sure, but I may have ordered enough to plant 10 acres, when I have time for 1 at best.  (Did I mention I will be digging this big field manually between 2 jobs?  Because I will be digging this big field manually between 2 jobs.)   I believe we may own rocky and coarse land.  And I am kind of old and out of shape, which will add to the entertainment value of this blog.

Once the seeds arrive, I will begin to dig, plant, coax, water, sweat, and perhaps curse on occasion.  Oh, and I think my sister may give me a a little biddy chick or two.  Chickens!  Eggs!

I hope you will forgive the lapse in writing and spend the summer with me.

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7 Comments on “She Turned to the Sunlight and Shook Her Yellow Head”

  1. Fireman Carl Says:

    Glad you are back. If it stops raining I will make up my beds.Hope next weekend works.

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  2. Kelly Says:

    Mary

    Happy to see you posting again and getting ready for Spring. I was thinking of you the other day when I saw this article ” One-Acre Farm in a 320 Sq Ft Box”. Check out http://www.freightfarms.com. Pretty amazing…and if you are looking for a third job they are looking for part time sales people LOL

    XOXO
    Kelly

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    Reply

  3. LP Machin Says:

    Well, HELLO!! Good to see you back! Thanks for a starting point in gardening for this city girl! Can’t wait to see more posts!

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    Reply

  4. Dorothy Ward Says:

    You’re BACK! Now I know spring is just around the corner. I don’t know where you got your urge to grow things, as I am a total brown-thumb gardener (as in DEAD)…Maybe from your Ward grandparents, whose garden probably kept them healthy through the Depression, or from my Grandmama Minnie Eubanks, who took in, fed, and nourished whichever grandchild had a family that was going through some discombobulation. She always had a garden, (with asparagus, even!) and a tab at the grocery store, which got paid off when the grandchild’s parents decided to send her some cash.

    Your seed list sounds ambitious, and we wish you all kinds of luck with it, hoping to be benificiaries of a successful garden. Love you, yo’ mama.

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