My Seeds

picture-89.thumbnail.pngMr. ew and I threw a birthday party for ourselves last night and I’m not really able to talk about bailouts and bonuses and whatnot today.

So instead, I thought I’d join the spring planting fun and talk about the seeds I bought last week to plant whenever spring comes to MI (Click the picture for the map of Michelle Obama’s garden).

I belong to a CSA that keeps me in veggies from May to October, so most of what I plant is for storage or funky veggies that we won’t get in the CSA. Here’s what I’m planting this year:

Windy Wood Green Okra: This one I’ll have to start inside. I really like okra and understand it has a beautiful flower–so I’m really looking forward to this.

Black Kabouli Bush Garbanzo Beans: I like growing storage beans fresh–they taste better. And black garbanzo beans sounded like fun.

Triple Play Sweet Corn: People say corn is hard but I planted some a few years ago and it did great–my garden is in a really windy spot. It probably helped, too, that I had just dumped a truck full of the town’s great compost in my garden when I planted it. This stuff is multicolored. I guess I was in the mood for funny colored food the day I bought my seeds.

Texas Indian Moschata Squash: I planted buttercup and acorn squash last year–boring squash varietals but I was stuck with them because I put off buying seeds until all the funky squash was gone. This is supposed to be a great keeper like a butternut (I’ve still got some CSA butternut and some of my own buttercup downstairs).

Temuco Quinoa: I’ve been experimenting with grains lately–so when the apocalypse comes I will have experience growing grains in my backyard. Though I never got around to chaffing the amaranth I grew last year (which was a stunningly beautiful plant), so I can’t yet say I know how to chaff grains I’ve grown in my backyard.

Huazontle (Red Aztec Spinach): Okay, I admit I don’t know what to expect from this (I think I bought it because it looks a lot like last year’s bright red Amaranth). You can eat it raw when it’s young or braise the leaves and the seed head later on. It supposedly retains its red color during cooking so it’ll probably make a lovely stew with my black garbanzo beans  and tri-colored sweet corn. Tune in in August to hear about my rainbow stew…

52 replies
  1. phred says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you and the mister!

    And happy planting : )

    By the way, I was enjoying some spring snow flurries earlier today, while admiring our crocuses. It can snow if it wants, but the crocuses will win in the end — they always do ; )

  2. timethief says:

    The good food revolution thrives in Michigan. I am impressed with your choices. Who cooks? and yes Happy Birthday!

  3. Oskie says:


    I started growing okra a couple of summers ago when I couldn’t get the squirrels to stop eating the corn that I planted. I had managed to grow corn for six or seven summers before the fuzzy buggers caught on but once they figured out how to dig up the little sprouts and eat the seeds it was game over.

    The okra, on the other hand, they leave alone.

    I tell you this as a way to vouch for the flower and – yes! – they are beautiful. A velvety looking yellow and purple, they will flower again and again with each issue of new fruit. You will not be disappointed.

    They can be slow to start (I live in Massachusetts.) but once the summer heats up they take right off.

    You’re not going to grow any potatoes?


  4. Leen says:

    Happy Birthday to both of you. Hope your heads aren’t hurting.

    I can not plant enough basil….never enough pesto during the winter for me. One of my favorite summer meals is a huge pot of steamed greens, or sauteed kale, chard, mizuna (Japanese green) a bit of arugala with just a bit of balsamic vinegar splashed on with olive oil…top with a small handful of feta. Piece of grilled Salmon, fresh tomatoes with fresh pesto. Damn damn sounds good

    Have you ever planted golden beets (beets are my favorite vegie) look beaurtiful grated on top of a mixed green salad during the summer

  5. Loo Hoo. says:

    OMGosh. I’m planting a garden too, whenever my friend’s son finishes building the mother of all gardens. It’s 15′x20′. I’m on granite, so I knew I had to bring in topsoil. I have gophers, so I knew I’d need galvanized netting on the bottom. I have rabbits, so I knew I’d need fencing to keep them out. What I’m ending up with is the Mother of all Gardens.

    The posts cemented into the ground are 4X4s every 5′. It is built up 2′high. The entry gate is a regular chain link gate, but will have to be backed up by smaller fencing to keep the baby rabbits out.

    There are two huge piles in front of my house, one sand and one topsoil, that I have to hire a Bobcat driver to move to the garden. The water system is yet to be determined, but this kid tells me he can hook up a drip system to my regular sprinkler system.

    I have green, bermuda, and candy onion, Arvejas peas, Zapallo squash, cucumber, tomato, beets, sweet, bell, and jalepeno peppers, cherry and regular tomatoes, beans, dwarf sugar peas, bush beans, lettuce, and bicolor corn.

    Lordy. What have I done? I’ll be feeding my entire family, and the neighbors are telling me I’ll need to deliver to them. I told them I’m Little Henny Penny, and they’ll need to get their own.

  6. klynn says:


    My 11 year old daughter took her year 10 to harvest seeds from her favorite tomatoes (5 varieties), squash, cucumbers, summer squash, melons, pumpkins and beans.

    She presented me with the gift of parchment envelopes nicely folded and labeled yesterday. There are thousands of seeds.

    My Mom taught me how to harvest seeds when I was young. She taught my daughter how to do it last year.

    What a gift of generations.

    Happy Birthday EW’s!

  7. pajarito says:

    Happy Birthday!

    I just planted a few rows of spinach and carrots (too tired to go out and look at variety). Spent all day dismantling a fence, in order to construct a fence around the garden. Last year our steers ate the garden, aided by two goats and a bunch of chickens….Chicken wire will not deter a hungry steer of 800 lbs….however, we got our revenge, one is now in the freezer!

    Okra is grand, we had a great crop two years back, only about 8 tall plants but they went over 5 ft. tall and produced for at least 2 months. Mmmmm…fresh okra is great. Gonna plant some this year but still too cool, says the seed packet map. We’re at 4500 ft. so it is cool at night, though the days are warm, at least to near 80.

    Squash, especially zuchini, have you ever tried fried zuchini blossoms? They are fantastic and resemble nothing like the squash fruit. Pick whole flower (stem, base, bracts, petals, even tiny fruit) early in AM when they are out, pull stamen and anthers (either), rinse bugs out…dry. Use a beer or tempura batter, batter and fry lightly on both sides…exquisite! also cuts down on the glut of zuchini late in the season (nipped in the bud, so to speak).

    This year, bought a used tiller, 5.5 hp. Pretty good, though our soil is river clay bottomland (adobe). Helps to dig with shovel first every 6 in. to loosen, then use tiller. The kids just whine too much when assigned digging duty (what happened to our young?). They don’t want to be distracted from texting every 3 minutes.

    With all the animals, I had lots of compost and “organics” to till into the soil. Tiller was great at that after initial digging pass. We should have good results, what with strong fence (animal panel) and lotta compost. Sun is never a problem here, though those mid-April or May freezes can sure wreck a good tomato start.

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      I’m so excited about the tomatoes! They just cannot be picked, shipped, and sold with the kind of sweetness we get from our gardens. I’m also looking forward to corn straight from the garden to the boiling water or BBQ…Yum!

      Rhubarb is on the list…

      Happy B-Day Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler!

      • pajarito says:

        Yeah, tomatos are usually iffy for me. When I get them they are great. Lose about half plants to tomato decline. Thought the cows wouldn’t eat them (Solonacea) but they did…Corn takes up too much room and there is alot of great local corn in season, yummy on grill.

        My dad was a great gardener, wish I had half his green thumb.

      • PJEvans says:

        Rhubarb – best in the ground, but it can be grown in large containers. At least for a few years. You want at least 20-inch if you take that route. Either way, make sure that the growth buds are above soil level, because they prefer not being wet. (Mine are multi-headed after a couple of years, but it’s hard growing them here – the heat is almost too much, and definitely too soon. They prefer areas with winters.)

        • Loo Hoo. says:

          Oh. No real winter here except for maybe 10 days per year. The folks I bought my old house from had planted rhubarb, but the harvest was minimal. I remember as a kid going around the neighborhood (in Minnesota) with a cup of sugar to eat the rhubarb stocks. Yummy.

        • bobschacht says:

          Oh, man, I grew up with rhubarb (in Wisconsin). My mother chopped up the stems and cooked it with massive amounts of sugar, and we used it as a topping on cereal, or by itself.

          Bob in HI

            • PJEvans says:

              Rhubarb cobbler.
              Rhubarb sauce on vanilla ice cream.

              In Persia there’s a meat/poultry dish that’s made with rhubarb and parsley, maybe some mint. Unsweetened rhubarb. It goes over rice.

              • bobschacht says:

                In Persia there’s a meat/poultry dish that’s made with rhubarb and parsley, maybe some mint. Unsweetened rhubarb. It goes over rice.

                I’ve been there, but I don’t recall this dish. Unsweetened rhubarb? Have you tasted that? Pretty strong pucker power needed.

                Bob in HI

              • emptywheel says:

                I made rhubarb and beet calzones last year–with feta and some chili for heat. The beet sweetened the rhubarb.

                I need to refine the recipe (it needs to be mushier and I need to refine the calzone dough) but it was pretty cool.

    • noonan says:

      Last year our steers ate the garden, aided by two goats and a bunch of chickens….Chicken wire will not deter a hungry steer of 800 lbs….however, we got our revenge, one is now in the freezer!

      Last year, we had a similar problem. After watching our beans, cukes, corn & squash come up and show explosive growth, our two cats ate the tips off every plant except the tomatoes. We didn’t have fillets for the freezer, but it gave me pause…

  8. Loo Hoo. says:

    Anyone experienced with compost? I know there are suggestions all over the web, but has anyone here had simple successes?

    • Leen says:

      been composting for 30 years. nothing fancy. Just two piles the one with the fresh food leftovers, leaves, grass clippings and the other pile is the really well done pile. The KEY keep turning it turn turn turn.

  9. BoxTurtle says:

    If you’re having problems with squirrels, plant hot peppers amongst the plants you want to protect. They don’t like the smell.

    Boxturtle (Carrots, onions, and bell peppers for me)

  10. noonan says:

    Happy b-day EW and thanks for all the presents you’ve given to us over the years!

    We’re doing the same thing here (NE WI). I spent most of today double and triple checking our last frost date against when I can plant – and I was stymied. I’ll have to hold off until next week.

    It heated up yesterday (50ish) and we got down to clear out growth we didn’t trim back last year, and found lots of mums, irises, hen & chicks and a few strawberries already coming up.

    Glad to see others have been expanding their gardens already, we’re hoping to add on about 1/3 more space to our 20 x 40 garden as soon as the soil both thaws and dries – the water level is about 4″ below the surface right now. Maybe next weekend, after I get some seeds planted inside.

    To keep critters out, we’ve found two reliable solutions: hot peppers and marigolds on the outside of the garden and a Springer & Maltepoo making frequent potty trips.

  11. bobschacht says:

    You guys, and Michelle Obama, are doing wonders to remind us of the virtues of gardening– a great skill for hard times. As a nation, we were fast headed for a future where the public was completely alienated from the means of production.

    Besides, its therapeutic!

    It is good for kids to get their hands in the dirt.

    Bob in HI

  12. noonan says:

    Just checked out EW’s links to SeedsOfChange. Great products there, we bought all our peppers from them this year.

    Products sell out fast there, the sweet peppers we got are already unavailable, and there was one scorching hot one that was gone when I ordered over a month ago.

  13. Gunner says:

    Hey Mr and Mrs EW how are you today,great party I had big fun.But I will say I am feeling it today.

  14. Petrocelli says:

    Happy Birthday to Mrs. & Mr. Wheeler !

    I went to the first barbecue party of the Spring in Toronto – got down below freeeezing, so lots of Scotch was needed to keep us warm.

    Marcy, the Black Garbanzos are much tastier than the reg’lar kind. We boil, then fry them with Diced Onions and a little spice. They’re great with Middle Eastern, Mexican or Indian food. My friends like it because it’s as unusual as my Navy Bean Soup.

    The best part of gardening is helping my neighbors to find new recipes for their produce. *g*

      • Petrocelli says:

        The way to eat Okra is, first you stir fry Shrimp in a zesty sauce, with Onions cut in rings. Then halfway through, add the okra (cut in halves) and shut if off when the Okra is cooked but not mushy.

        A Food thread on the best Political Thread in the World … love it !

  15. Peterr says:

    Will there be an EW Vegetable Garden Timeline appearing in the “Timeline Collection” box?

    March 21 — finished seed purchases and outlining plans for the garden . . .

  16. scribe says:

    All of these sound really good, but if I were you, EW, I would add some melons to the mix.

    Say a melon charentais or a similar cantaloupe. Worth the effort. I have very little ground, so I keep to herbs, a little lettuce (all different sorts), and roses. They’re pushing leaf buds already. And, in a place that had snow Friday, I saw four robins today.

  17. Rayne says:

    Too funny. Was tied up yesterday in part because of a close friend’s birthday. You Aries people can certainly keep the rest of us hopping!

    That Texas Indian Moschata sure looks a lot like a Long Island Cheese pumpkin, which I’m dying to try this year. We’ll have to compare notes at the end of the season if I can manage to grow some.

    We won’t have anything quite as exciting as your choices in our garden, save for the peppers; the Thai peppers have been very productive and very popular, look like monster-ish fingers in the garden.

  18. gmoke says:

    Peas and spinach in the ground a few days ago here in my city garden in Cambridge, MA. I should be putting out some recycled solar cloches this week and turning over the first bed.

    See… to learn how to make your recycled solar heated coldframe

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for that, could be helpful with peppers and tomatoes.

      Putting out a larger cloche over an entire raised bed this week, hoping to start some greens and radishes in a bed that will eventually see beans/zukes/cukes later in the season. Will have to share pics later in the week after I get the project done.

  19. tejanarusa says:

    What a great thread. Interesting vegetable choices – I had no idea there were black garbanzos.
    Years ago in the first house my husband and I lived in – tract house where all the trees and top soil were scraped away by developer – we had a large garden. He has the green thumb – never thought I would enjoy gardening at ll, but I sure enjoyed the results, and learned a lot.

    His big goal was strawberries – eventually gave up – the instant they were ripe enough to eat, the birds did exactly that. They were gone before we hardly had a chance to see them. The handful of strawberries we got were very, very expensive. Lots of sand to amend soil, many plants planted, etc., etc.
    The bad part was, though we had luscious tomatoes by May, just as my dad in Maryland was planting his, by July everything was scorched to shriveling with no shade at all.

    Now,sadly, I live in a place with lovely huge old trees – keeps the house colo til late in a summer day; shade definitely good in Texas. Unfortunately, nothing grows in so much shade. (Well, hostas maybe, but nothing edible.)
    A couple of years I managed herbs through the summer and into fall; two yrs ago we had ridiculous amounts of rain and every plant drowned. After four re-plantings I gave up.
    Last year – not sure–too much shade, possibly I overwatered, as there wasn’t much rain. We’re in a flat-out drought now–I keep telling myself as I pass the shelves of pots of herbs at the grocery store not to bother, there’s no hope. Really miss having my own basil, though.
    Please accept my envy and admiration, all of you who are diligently planning/planting. I will gladly accept any virtual zucchini when you are overflowing with it. ; )

  20. skdadl says:

    I wish I could remember who it was at FDL gave us a rhubarb chutney recipe last year that she says is ideal for a heavily flavoured whitefish like mackerel, and I can believe that. The trick for doing savoury rather than dessert rhubarb seems to be going hot and sour with just a little brown sugar, or that’s what I see when I google around.

    My favourite rhubarb dish is rhubarb crème brulée, which isn’t hard but takes a little staging.

    We had a pretty good corn patch one year, cobs almost ready to harvest, but then came the racoons. Wiped the whole patch out in just a few nights. In this city, there’s really no way to fight them; at night they rule the joint. Luckily, they don’t seem interested in tomatoes.

  21. CasualObserver says:

    Interesting plant choices EW. Amaranth/chenopods are incredible plants. Here’s a link to an article suggesting that amaranth was likely domesticated independently three different places in the new world–Andes, Central Mex, and North America.

    I fooled around with wild variety in Illinois once, and found that once the seed stalks became dry and seeds ripe, you could abrade them gently between two palms (in a rubbing motion) and the dark shiny seeds would be released. They had a sweet, nut-like flavor and are high in protein. But to harvest the seeds in bulk–how the heck would one do that…

  22. 4jkb4ia says:

    Happy birthday, EW!

    Planting a garden at the same time as the slow process of getting one’s house ready for the P-word (not original with me) could be very hectic but at the same time very powerful. I wonder when in Israel they would begin planting things like this.

  23. 4jkb4ia says:

    After some googling, it seems that the Israelis are thriving growing things during the winter to sell to Europe. Clearly the Palestinians could get some of that market as well. In the late spring, there is a cherry festival.

  24. JohnLopresti says:

    Feral pigs have decided the willow pasture is theirs to till the topsoil every year. Distracted people living in the house uphill from there have yet to refurbish what was once a nice garden. Often one of the buildings, or more, is in rental, meaning the garden cycle again will be whatever tenants do for their own household. I had a tomato patch one year amazingly unfenced, probably too small for deer to notice, and somewhat far from the last of the double-dug, carefully composted beds. I think the gophers were expecting the tomatoes to appear where they should, in the garden, not in some outlier patch. Just then a tenant family moved in, and “discovered” some tomatoes. Bye-bye my small garden. I never let them know they had commandeered the miracle of the mountain, which somehow had avoided all of wildlife’s hunters gatherers. Having carefully stored some harvested timber for a few years, this might be the year to refurbish the garden proper. The concept is raised beds this time, to facilitate upkeep. I know I have a scheduled date with the posthammer for horse exclusion fenceposting. The ranch has inherited three equestrians in various installments. The orchards are mouldering, but the homestead family era passed. It may be time for a generation shift, too, as fruit trees need maintenance. The owner did a nice terracing and pond for the start of the restoration of the zinfandel bloc, but the subtleties of biodynamic viticulture remain on the research list, even after my being in the ‘industry’ for years; things have changed for the better with respect to integrated pest management and fruit quality optimization, especially with a teleologic eye toward ‘terroir’.

    FartherOT, I have to glance at the Bernanke pronouncements reinforcing the paradigm shifts the new administration is planning for executive bailouts. Then there are now-CommonCause’s Tova Wang’s recent remarks to read, about how voting officials rebeled in FL refusing to obey the FL statewide edict to exclude tens of thousands of voters whose names had typos, the GA officials who tried to force the most corrupted database to be the key exclusionary tool to ban voters, other case studies.

    This winter was cold in this area. Redtail hawks have taken up residence, probably for the diversity of prey in the transition zone between foothill woodland and mountain forest. Usually the hawks prefer zones which require less flight agility. Mornings, the early sun arrives amid hawk chirps. They have such strong voices that a ‘chirp’ easily is louder than the neighbor’s rooster or the half-mile away neighbor’s peacocks.

    Gardens are so complicated, though, it is nice to have a party to celebrate the beginning of spring, and set aside the worries of tilth, if only for an evening.

  25. by foot says:

    EW, not sure where you are in MI, but quinoa can be dicey in hot summers. Temperatures in the 90s cause it to fail to pollinate. If you get lake breezes, maybe that’d be perfect.

    I worry that it’s becoming marginal for us here in Boulder, CO … but it’s grown commercially up in the San Luis Valley, 4 hrs. south and 3000 feet higher.

    I’m trying Temuco this year, too.

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