Last year around this same time, I entertained ya’ all with The Battle of the Seed Catalogs. Well the war continues, once again we were flooded with seed catalogs, and once again we spent many hours contemplating on what to purchase and from who. I am happy to say that we narrowed down our seed selections to just three catalogs – Seed Savers, Baker’s Creek, and R.H. Shumway. All the catalogs are fun to look at, but honestly, a seed catalog is a seed catalog, but with a few exceptions. As mentioned last year, Baker’s Creek is absolutely beautiful to look at – great photography, good descriptions of the plants, and even better, the damn prices!! By far Baker’s Creek offers the highest quality seed for the best price! As always, I also made seed purchases from Seed Savers, but not quite as much as I have in the past. I still whole heartily support them and their cause, but their prices are higher, and you definitely don’t get quite as much per packet. The dark horse candidate, and my new favorite seed catalog is R.H. Shumway. Their prices are totally reasonable, they offer some really neat varieties (some hybrids, some heirlooms), and their catalog is really fun to look through and read! It is hand illustrated with old-timey drawings and makes shopping for seeds quite fun!
A big difference this year concerning our seed purchases is how we plan on gardening. We are hoping to make the transition from just backyard, hobby gardening into a small urban farm that will be offering produce for sale to the public. With a few exceptions, we are planning on growing more of what we are really good at, and less experiments. Our main for-profit focus this year is going to be salad mix and other greens, braising greens like collards and kale, garlic, radishes, turnips, tomatoes, zucchinis and whatever else that we have a good season with. We have gotten to the point that we have excess amounts of certain crops and want to parlay that into a small home business on the side. Eventually we hope to turn the farm stand into an urban CSA, and make more of a living off of our passion for growing food.
Due to these grand dreams and aspirations of becoming a high-volume producing urban farm, we have had to change the amount of seed we order. Instead of just small packets of radishes, we ordered a few varieties in the quarter pound packs. The same goes for salad mix, carrots, and beets. Along with the added amount of seeds and plants we hope to grow, we are also going to need a little bit more space to actually garden in. We are lucky, we have space to grow into, and if time and energy allow, we will be adding just shy of a thousand square feet of garden space this spring. These garden expansions will consist of an addition to our side garden (approximately 200 square feet): two terraced raised beds in our back garden (about 60 square feet), and the big project – raised bed gardens equaling about 650-700 square feet of new garden space. These new raised beds will be in our “new” side yard that we purchased a few summers ago and will become the main work horse for the urban farm project. Other hurdles we are going to encounter are successive plantings and crop rotations to make the most out of our available space. The good news is this – these are the best kinds of hurdles to have, ones that you can plan for, ones that fall within in your capabilities and talents, and ones that are inspirational – not just for yourself, but for others. This world is not getting any easier to feed, we just welcomed our 7th billion citizen and most of us live in cities and first ring suburbs. We are the farmers of the future – citizens taking their food security into their own hands and providing our families and our communities with healthy, fresh food. I am really looking forward to this upcoming growing season – a chance to get even more calluses on my hands, less sleep and a sorer back, and the chance to provide something that is truly positive to my community and the world. Cheers!