Have you ordered your vegetable seeds?

seed catalogs 2011Looking through all the seed catalogs and planning what you’re growing next year is fun to do in winter. Now is the time to order your vegetable seeds if you haven’t already done so. Seed starting will soon be upon us! Many cool season crops can be started inside soon (some now) and put out in March and warm season crops can be started from seeds inside 6-8 weeks before the first frost-free date. Hard to think about starting any seeds when the weather is cold, windy and ugly but it is almost here. I have ordered some seeds but still have to get some and already feel a little behind.

If you are not one to start seeds inside, that’s ok-just wait till the nurseries get their transplants out later this spring and let them do the work for you. And don’t be afraid to buy transplants. I once was told you’re not a real gardener unless you grow everything from seed. Bull@#$%! Out here we need all the help we can get so I’m not against buying plants from nurseries at all. Besides I like supporting our local economy as well. So I grow some vegetables from seeds and buy some from the nurseries. What matters is that you get out in your garden and enjoy yourself and the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor.

Donut Seeds

While teaching the SF Master Gardener Vegetable class last week, one of the facilitators for the class, Helena Van Heiningen, came up at break to give me some new ‘seeds’. Donut seeds. They come from Ferry Morse and the package is really fun! Check out the front and back of the package below! Hmm! I’m gonna have to plant some of these! I wonder if they germinate in coffee?!

Donut seed-'Cakus Delectae'

Donut Seed-Back of package

Still Time to Order Seeds if You Haven’t Already

Still time to order seeds if you haven’t already. I need to order my seeds Monday, now that I’m home from the show so I get them in time to plant in March. Probably most of you have already order your seeds. I only need to order a few as I still have many seeds that I will regrow this year. It feels late but it is what it is. Last year I started the seeds the first week of March. Because it was such a cold spring, I couldn’t get them out till late May and even June last year They got too tall in the house, but what was I to do? Stick them out in 27°F weather? I’m still going to plant seeds from March 1 -15,  inside, under the lights and hope with this La Nina we have that all of us will be able to sneak out some of our warm season crops early—think April 15th! It’s always a crap shoot when trying to decide when to plant seeds but I’m going early! Bring out the gro lights! (I hear, “oh no” in the background!) I do have ‘plant envy’ for those of you have greenhouses or hoophouses!

Final 2011 Seed Lists

FINAL 2011 SEED LISTS (updated)

I’ve researched and updated the seed list I posted earlier about a month ago and thought some of you might like to know where I buy either the seeds or in some cases, the plants ready to transplant here in Santa Fe. So first I created a legend with abbreviations for each seed/nursery and then put them at the end of each seed listed.  Hope this makes it easier for you so you don’t have to figure it out. I also show which tomatoes Amy Goldman’s ‘The Heirloom Tomato’ book recommends which I use as my ‘tomato bible’! I’ve put this in my page section called ‘Seed Lists’  at the top of the blog for later reference.

Here is the legend:
AFN-Agua Fria Nursery (plants)-1409 Agua Fria Street/Santa Fe, NM/505-983-4831
SFGHSanta Fe Greenhouse (plants)-2904 Rufina Street/Santa Fe, NM/505-473-2700
BHBaker Heirloom (seeds)
SSESeed Saver Exchange (seeds)
TSTerritorial Seeds
JSKGJohn Scheepers Kitchen Garden
KSKitazawa Seed (seeds)
WCSWest Coast Seeds (seeds)
CGCooks Garden (seeds)
TFTomato Fest (seeds)
TGTomato Growers (seeds)
TTTotally Tomatoes (seeds)



*AG/San Marzano-red plum/80 days/AFN (plants) or BH, SSE, (seeds)

Striped German-bicolor-SFGH (plants)
*AG/Gold Medal-bicolor-75-80 days-BH (seeds)
*AG/Ananas Noir-recommended by friend-BH, SSE (seeds)

Paul Robeson-black/75-85 days-AFN (plants)
Cherokee Purple/80 days-AFN (plants)

*AG/Pantano Romanesco-red/70-80 days-BH,TF(seeds)
*AG/Costoluto Genovese-red/78 days-TG(seeds)
*AG/Goldsman Italian American-red-BH (seeds)
*AG/Brandywine/AFN (plants)

*AG/Black Cherry-black/75 days-AFN (plants)
*AG/Green Grape-green/AFN (plants) or SSE (seeds)

HYBRIDS-I grow a few hybrids
Lemon BoyAFN (plants)
Park’s Beefy Boy-red-70 days-AFN (plants)
Sun Sugar-yellow cherry-62 days-TT (seeds)

* AG-recommended by Amy Goldsman’s book, ‘The Heirloom Tomato’


BEANSRattlesnake bean snap OG (remarkably flavored pole bean)-SSE (seeds)

PEPPERShishito (Japanese non hot pepper)-AFN (plants) or KS(seeds)

SUMMER SQUASH-ZUCCHINICostata Romanesco (best tasting zuke around)-BH (seeds)

WINTER SQUASH- Galeux d’ Eyesines and Red Warty Thing (that’s what it’s called!)-BH (seeds)

EGGPLANT-Fairy Tale (best sweet, no bitter taste and soft skin eggplant I’ve tasted)-AFN (plants) or TS (seeds)

CUCUMBERSParisian Pickling, De Bourbonne, Boothsby Blonde, Poona Kheera, Armenian and Parade– I grow cukes for either taste or which variety is best for different types of pickles-all BH (seeds) except Parade-SSE (seeds)

CORN-not this year (I’ll get it from our Farmers Market)

LETTUCES–Provencal Mix, Mesclun Mix, Buttercrunch, Yugoslavian Red, Santoro Lettuce, and Little Gem-CG (seeds)

SPINACH–Bloomsdale-CG (seeds)

CARROTS-Purple Haze CG (seeds) and Scarlet Nantes-SSE (seeds)

ARUGULA-Apollo-SSE (seeds)

BOK CHOY-Extra Dwarf Pak Choy-BH (seeds)

CHARD-5 Color Silverbeet-SSE (seeds) and Argentata Swiss Chard-JSKG (seeds)

PEAS-Dwarf Sugar Gray-SSE, Oregon Spring II-BH (seeds)


2010 GIANT PUMPKINSall came from private growers
895 Grande 08 (1016 Daletas x 1385 Jutras)
421 Cabossel (895 Grande x self )
1046 Grande 10 (901 Hunt x 1385 Jutras)

GIANT GREEN SQUASHall came from private grower
903 Noel 07 (848 McKenzie x self)

GIANT MARROW (like giant Zucchini)-all came from private growers
206.5 Wursten 09 or 75.4 Wursten 09
43 Cabossel 10

7.18 N. Harp 09 (5.58 Timm x open)-private grower
5.416 N, Harp 09 (5.58 Harp x open)-private grower
Big Zac/TT (seeds)

GIANT PEAR GOURDprivate grower
89 Scherber 10

LONG GOURDprivate grower
96″ Scherber 10

Titan-SSE, BH (seeds)

Following is the list of edible flowers that will be planted or are already on the property:


Calendula-Orange King-BH (seeds)

Chives-AFN (plants)

Cilantro-AFN (plants)

Dill-AFN (plants)

Lavender (in existing different area)

Marigold-Lemon Gem-TS (seeds) this is the only edible marigold

Nasturtiums-Tip Top -CG (seeds)-prettiest nasturiums

Pansies-get them anywhere

Violas-get them anywhere

Roses (in different existing area)

Black Oil Seed sunflower (for the birds!)-WCS (seeds)

2011 HERBS-Following is a list of herbs that will be planted or exist on the property
Basil-new SHGH (plants)
Lime Basil-new-SFGH (plants)
Thai Basil-new-SFGH (plants)
Lemon Thyme-exists
Dill-usually self seeds
Marjoram-new-SFGH (plants)

How to Tell the Germination Rate in Old Seeds

If you just can’t bear to throw out those old seeds, here’s a test to tell how viable your older seeds are. Take 10 seeds and soak for about 1 hour, then put them between damp paper towels and in a plastic ziplock baggie. Put in a warm spot (on top of your refrigerator or on a grow heating mat). Keep checking them daily and when you get them to germinate, count up how many actually did germinate. If you got 3, then you have a 30% germination rate, 5 would be a 50% germination rate and so forth. If you only get 1-2, throw them out, their not worth the trouble. So if you have a 100 seeds, then you can be pretty assured that around 30 would germinate (30% rate).

2011 Seed Catalogs

2011 Seed Catalogs

Now’s a great time to look at all those new seed catalogs we’ve been receiving. I’ve gotten a few new ones (for me) as well. I am now going over them and deciding which seeds I can’t live without! So many choices! I’m only adding a few new tomatoes as I par down the list from the past 2 years. That and I am not going to grow as many as last year because I need to rotate them to new areas. I’m planning on growing more flowers down in the main garden as well. For more information on all my favorite seed catalogs, go to my catalog page at the top of the blog (also on the right sidebar)

two new seed catalogs for me for 2011

I also got 2 new seed catalogs-One’s called ‘bbbseed’, which features heirloom vegetables and wildflower seeds. It’s veggie section is little but what interested me in the catalog is it comes out of the Denver area and seems to be a good resource for wildflowers for our areas.  You can order a catalog at www.bbbseed.com. The other catalog is John Scheeper’s Kitchen Garden Seeds. It looks interesting with it’s larger veggie and flower section. You can order one from www.kichengardenseeds.

2011 Baker Heirloom Seed Catalog Arrives!

2011 Baker Heirloom Seeds Catalog

My 2011 Baker Heirloom Seed Catalog arrived and just in time for me to cuddle up by the fireplace with it and a hot Mexican coffee while it snowed outside. If you are a veggie/flower gardener, this catalog is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen and has a wealth of information. It’s pictures inside are big and gorgeous and make me want to buy everything! It is by far my most favorite seed catalog and if you want to order one, it’s free here at Baker Heirloom Seed (www.rareseeds.com). I get many seed catalogs every year but this catalog is always the best one-year after year. Did I say  it snowed? Yes, snow! We haven’t had any measureable snow here in Santa Fe until yesterday. We got 16 inches of snow (that equals 1.6 inches of rain-10 inches of snow = 1 inch of rain) where I live and I’m so glad because we really need the moisture right now. Hasn’t felt like winter here till this weekend. Now we don’t have to water for awhile!

Saving Seeds-still time to collect them

giant marrow opened up exposing seeds

I’ve been collecting some of the seeds that I want to replant for next year-rattlesnake beans, giant marrow, Japonica corn, giant pumpkin, scarlet runner beans, sunflower seeds, tomato seed from my 2.11oz tomato, cosmos, and zinnas. Ones I won’t take are cucumbers, most tomatoes, zucchini, winter squash, and peppers as I grew several of the same varieties and they could of crossed and I might loose the original strain.

giant marrow seeds drying

When saving big seeds like squashes or pumpkins, be sure to thoroughly DRY the seeds before putting them in a zip-loc baggie or jar. Any hint of moisture will ruin them. I just put the cleaned, wet seeds on a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet in a dry sunny place until dry. That way they will release from the wax paper after they are dry. I always like collecting seeds every year. It’s fun when you plant them the following year. It’s also fun when you don’t have to buy a packet of seeds for $2.49 with 20 seeds in them when you can collect the same seed and get 100’s more.  I have a friend (Fran) who walks and collects the wild flower seeds and broadcasts them on her property and the her natural garden this year looked awesome. (Did I tell you that Fran?!) Awesome!

When should we start seeds?


I found this nifty time frame chart about when to start some of our seeds indoors. Not all are listed but as I find more I’ll add it to this chart. Our last frost date here in Santa Fe (zone 5) is May 15 but you can adjust this to your time zone as it is listed as to how many weeks to start seeds ahead of your last frost date.

Please note-Anything you actually put out in the garden early before your last frost date, must have some kind of protection.

TOMATOES-6-8 weeks before last frost (sometimes even up to 10 weeks with proper lighting)

PEPPERS-8-12 weeks before last frost. Big  deal around these parts of the southwest! I find they take forever to start!

EGGPLANTS-6-8 weeks before last frost. I find these take a long time to start also.

LETTUCE-5-6 weeks before last frost if you want to start indoors. (I also like to plant lettuce, spinach and different greens, carrot and beet seeds directly in the soil right after St. Patrick’s Day around here as they can handle a little frost but I still cover them with row cover at night)

SPINACH-5-6 weeks before last frost or plant directly outdoors (around St. Patrick’s Day)

GREENS (broccoli, chard, kale, cabbage,etc)-6-8 weeks before last frost (or plant after St. Patrick’s Day)

GIANT PUMPKINS (or any pumpkin)-2-4 weeks before last frost (but you must protect them if you put them out early) or just wait as they grow fast

MELONS-2-4 weeks before last frost or just wait as they grow fast

CUCUMBERS-2 -3 weeks before last frost or just wait as they grow fast

BEANS-2 -3weeks before last frost or just wait as they grow fast

SUMMER SQUASH-Just plant after last frost date directly in garden

WINTER SQUASH-Just plant after last frost date directly in garden

2010 tomato list

Here is my list of tomatoes I want to grow this year. I grow tomatoes for either excellent flavor, or gourmet or for size (competition). I try to pick some new ones I haven’t tried.



San Marzano-red plum/80 days/AFN

Striped German-bicolor-SFGH

Black Cherry-black/75 days-AFN

Paul Robeson-black/75-85 days-AFN

Cherokee Purple/80 days-AFN

Cherokee Chocolate/80 days-AFN

Prudens Purple-purple/70 days-BH,TOMFEST

Black Krim-black-69 daysAFN

Pantano Romanesco-red/70-80 days-BH,TOMFEST

Great White/80-85 days-BH,TOMGROWERS

Costoluto Genovese-red/78 daysTOMGROWERS

Goldsman Italian American-red-BH

Aunt Ruby’s German Green-85 days-BH

Gold Medal-bicolor-75-80 days-BH


Lemon Boy-AFN

Park’s Beefy Boy-red-70 days-AFB

Big Beef-red/73 days-TOT TOMATO

Bella Rosa-red/75 days-TOT TOMATO


Big Zac-red/80 days-TOT TOMATO/AFN

Church-red/85 days-TOMFEST

Timms-red/80 days-dif growers

Hello fellow gardeners!

Welcome to a new year and to my first blog on growing vegetables and particularly giant vegetables! I wish to share with you what I have learned during my attempts and trials of growing many veggies through 25 years and to share this year’s season as it unfolds.

First I am an organic grower. So I will be sharing my knowledge from that point of view. I don’t believe in spraying for bugs with poisons or fertilizing with chemicals that kill the soil. I don’t believe in GMO seeds and try to grow heirloom varieties as much as possible but do also grow some hybrids.

So enuf! Let’s get down to talking about growing stuff! What can you or I do in winter? Prepare for the next season! Get catalogs, order seeds, prepare the soil just to name a few things. So far I went on line and got my catalogs. Ah, they feed my soul while it is cold and snowing outside. I love going over them by the fireplace, dreaming of what I might try to grow this year…