Dark of the Winter

January 8, 2010 at 7:30 pm 1 comment

By Lyle Estill

This time of year is when the seed catalogs arrive. And it’s a time when Arlo and I get our orders ready and plan next year’s garden.

I should say at the outset that we are largely failed gardeners. Sometimes we take off a bumper crop of cucumbers, and occasionally we accidentally grow more tomatoes than we can eat, but generally our garden experiments end in failure.

Tonight Arlo grabbed the cardboard box which is our seed collection, and spread packets and envelopes all over the kitchen table. That way we would know what we had in stock.

And then he dove into the Johnny’s Seed catalog.

After many years of gardening together, I am merely a reference point.

“Corn,” he said, “Do you want to do corn this year?”

“Absolutely,” was my answer. “Get us some Silver Queen.” Arlo dutifully signed up for 1/4 pound of Silver Queen on the first line of the order form.

We don’t care for eggplant, but Tami loves it, so we are going into eggplant. Arugula is not our favorite, but Tami loves that too (and grows it all winter long at the Office of the Future in one of Bob’s raised beds) so we are going to try our hand at arugula.

Our seed collection includes left overs from the seed catalog companies, and an envelope of Jason’s inoculated peas, and some Abundance pepper seeds, and a mountain of garlic that we grew ourselves.

Once when I was weed eating the garden, the smell of sweet pepper rose from earth, so I shut the horrid machine off and dug around. I fished a bushel of peppers out of the weeds that we had abandoned and forgotten about.

Sometimes we hit, and sometimes we flop. But each year, in the dead of cold, we start the garden dream again.

Over at Piedmont Biofarm, some of Doug’s seed development work has made it into the catalogs. One of his Asian Collards is for sale through Fedco, and it looks like one of his peppers will be picked up by Seeds of Change.

And while that in itself is exciting, we don’t really care for Asian Collards, and we get our pepper seeds at the kitchen table.

Harvey Harman is a legendary grower in Bear Creek. I once sat in the audience of a Triangle Food Commons event and heard him speak about the importance of “growing some of your own food.”

I think that is sage advice. We do that. Not so much for our sustenance as for our appreciation of where food comes from.

Tomorrow we will mail in our seed order. In a month or so it will be filled. And the pattern will repeat itself. Some seeds will go into the ground, some will be held back for our “collection,” some plants will prosper and bear fruit, some will succumb to rabbit or deer or heat or drought pressure. Some will be lost to disease.

And some will fill us up and inspire us to do it all again next year…

Entry filed under: Lyle Estill, Sustainable Farming, Uncategorized. Tags: .

Carrboro Farmer’s Market feeds the food banks Seeds

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Seeds « sustainable grub  |  January 8, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    […] January 8, 2010 Pittsboro singer songwriter Richard Edwards has a tune that follows me around in every season. I think it’s about all of us:  growers, dreamers, cooks, activists.  It’s called “Seeds”  (c) and here is the part that I can’t get out of my head tonight after reading Lyle’s last post: […]


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