Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow to Seeds

Maybe I’m the ever-happy garden sprite, but when everyone else seems to be complaining and kvetching about the winter and its snowstorms (hello: it’s the season) I view it all as almost a perfect mash up. 

The winter weather forces us gardeners inside where we more or less do our winter gardening.
What’s that?  Attending lectures about gardens; reading about gardens; dreaming and drawing up new garden designs; taking care of the garden tools: cleaning, sharpening, oiling, all in preparation for the spring.

And as any dedicated, hard driving gardener will tell you – or perhaps sheepishly admit, nothing short of a blizzard will keep us out of the garden. 
So look at it like this:  we NEED the snowstorms and winter crazies to force us to sit down and take the time to choose the seeds, fruit tree varieties that will fulfill the next season’s garden desires.

So relax, enjoy the winter seasonal respite to flip through the print catalogs or the online ones – complete with colorful thumbnail images of the plants we dream will be part of our gardens.
It’s not unlike online dating.
Perhaps seduced by the too handsome or pretty image, we find our love.  Once there, we peruse the bio or stats and only then feel the chemistry. “This one’s for me!” the bubble in your head can be heard to exclaim.  Or maybe you shout out loud.

Better than Vogue’s fall issue, we love the cover shots of the boutique offerings from the smaller breeders and organic artisans.

For part of my Christmas wish list, I couldn’t resist the cherry trees from One Green World  - 1-877-353-4028 /
I am designing a home orchard: a double row cherry allee of compact trees near the kitchen garden or potager, located on the “back forty” as we say. That would be the backyard garden…
Last season, it was sad and curious when I asked one of the many nurseries I work with about securing fruit trees for my garden design clients; I was told they haven’t stocked them in forever. What? Why?  “Because no one grows fruit anymore.”
Pardon me, but isn’t this crazy?  Why do we have to buy imported fruit?  Most of suburban America can grow edible fruits. Most of urban residents can too.
Sigh. This is just the most recent example of lost food opportunities.

Not to be deterred. I moved on.  I would appeal to a higher resource: Santa Claus.

I needed dwarf varieties that would provide sweet, delicious, edible cherries.  My husband loves cherries – we buy Red Jacket Cherry Stomp from the Greenmarket in Union Square and my mother always makes him cherry pie for family holidays.

I wanted trees that are relatively carefree, with various blooming time that would yield fruit within the first year or so.  Some trees can take several years for cherries to bear fruit, so be mindful. 
I asked Santa for the Prunus cerasus  Montmorency.  This tree promises pie cherries.  They will rarely exceed 12 feet and are hardy to Zone 3.  The catalog says it produces abundant crops of firm, bright red, richly tart fruit with clear juice (yeah!)  Montmorency makes the best cherry pies!  (can’t wait to test this out!) A self-fertile and naturally dwarf tree.

I also hoped Santa would see clear to bring a sweet cherry, Prunus avium. That fat red man doesn’t wear red for nothing!  He’ll be sending two Compact Stella.  Stella – (which means ‘star’ in Italian. I know because the name of one of my most favorite garden client’s mother is Stella!)  I am hoping my sweet Stella cherry is indeed a star of our soon-to-be cherry orchard. 
The catalog describes Stella as “unique, self-fertile, dwarf cherry that will grow to only about 8-10 feet ad begins bearing fruit within a year or two and bears large, tasty, almost black fruit.” Good to zone 5

My mother remembers she and her sisters were picking their cherry fruit form the trees for what seemed forever – but that did not deter us from
We will add more trees to the mini orchard, but not before test-driving this year’s babies.
Santa was great.  He did it.


We order seeds from the Kitazawa Seed Co.,
 (LOVE, love, love their seed packet design!); 
Maine Potato Lady;
John Scheepers, kitchen garden:
Seed Savers Exchange:
and Comstock native Seeds (and what about those cover-boy melons?) 

Just recently, I received the Renee’s Garden spring seed offerings and am very to say they have some very exciting new Gourmet Vegetables and Flowers.  I am very excited to try their new introductions, including, Sugar Pearl White Corm, Zinger Hibiscus herbal tea, ‘Beauty Heart” Heirloom Radish Watermelon, Wine Country Mesclun and Tricolor carrots.   I’ll keep you posted on the growing of the Renee’s Garden seed growing.

Today, Garden Design Magazine featured their secret and heirloom seed picks from England, Italy and Vermont.               

Take the time to indulge the season’s “snow to seed” research and selection.

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