It Has Begun… Seeds 2007

Have you started your seeds yet?

This has been the most common topic on everyone’s mind lately and the question I have been asked most in the last few weeks.

People should know by now that I’m a late start. I rarely get my seeds started on time… you know, for the experimenting and the learning and such. At this point I know what I can get away with on a blazing hot rooftop deck. My plants grow at a faster rate, often coming to harvest well before the first frost hits. And if all goes to plan at the community garden, I should have my long-season seedlings in earlier than the past few years. Of course by ‘plan’ I do not mean that I have crafted or devised charts, lists, or diagrams laying out what I will grow and where I will grow it. I mean that I have pondered vague abstract ideas of where and how I will be gardening. I am not a garden planner. It is not my style. I know there will be food, and I know it will span the seasons with early spring plantings of greens, peas, and other cool season plants; I know I will slowly add in new plants as their time approaches; I know that there will definitely be tomatoes (lots and lots), I just haven’t decided on a list of definitive varieties to grow.

I do know that I’ve got more ideas stored up in my brain this year than ever before — you can thank the seed catalogues for that with their endless assortment of fascinating varieties. I like a good story behind a variety. Give me a good story, and tack ‘rare’ to the end and I’m all over that plant like aphids on your mama’s nasturtiums.

This unattractive edible with a flavour and texture not unlike a dry piece of cardboard was given to western Ontario Amish settlers in 1845 by the Huron nation. Rare heirloom.”

Yes! Gotta have it! I’ll take two packs!

By now I have gone through my seed catalogue collection and checked off just about everything on every page like a rabid animal. I’ve been thinking that a good way to narrow it down would be to play the catalogue game we played in childhood whenever the Consumers Distributing catalogue arrived. In this game of fantasy you could have any single item from each page, but only one thing. The game was usually played with a friend and each took turns choosing first, alternating back and forth. I’m not really sure what the game was intended to be about since no one actually GOT anything from the catalogue. I’m not even sure where the competition lay but it seemed to be mostly about choosing the most expensive jewelry and bragging about how you’d just resell that ugly thing later, pocket the dough, and buy yourself a small robot or kickin’ video game system. My point behind this story being not to fantasy choose the most expensive seeds to be resold for… something worth a big five bucks, but to play the game as a way to narrow my choices down per page and perhaps trade off growing certain coveted varieties with friends.


While I haven’t begun any real planning, I have begun to buy seeds. Here are my meager aquisitions thusfar. I am planning to begin the bulk of my buying and trading this weekend at the Toronto Seedy Saturday and then finish off with online purchases.

Clockwise from top right: 1. Tags from Amy whose husband procures these tags meant for another purpose through his work. They can be stuck upright next to a seedling or wrapped around a plant with thick stems. 2. Micro Greens ‘Spicy Mix’, ‘Burgundy’ Amaranth, and ‘Brightest Brilliant Rainbow’ Quinoa from Botanical Interests. I can get the ‘Spicy Mix’ Greens started as an indoor crop at anytime. 3. Melokhiya/Mazzocchi an Egyptian green used like okra to thicken broths. 4. A massive packet of variegated radicchio seeds from Italy. What can I say, it was an impulse buy made predominantly around the idea that I’d be in radicchio until kingdom come.

Seedy Saturday 2007

10-3 pm
Scadding Court Community Centre 707 Dundas St. W (at Bathurst)

If you’re in the Toronto area this Saturday don’t miss the best garden event this spring, Seedy Saturday. If you do make it out please stop by the You Grow Girl table where I will be selling and signing copies of the book, gardening tees and aprons (I’ll be unveiling some new designs of both too!), and trading off some of my extra seeds.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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16 thoughts on “It Has Begun… Seeds 2007

  1. My basement seedlings are going berserk, they’re all singing, “I want to live!” under the fluorescence. I planted my radishes outside five days ago and they’re already popping up! Just couldn’t wait till “last frost date”. It’s been in the 60s and 70s, after a horrible (St. Louis) winter of 3 ice storms and 3 power outs!
    I hope you post the new apron designs! I made one from the book for a horsie friend, she uses it for her hoof picks and curry combs. I use mine for everything: sewing, cleaning, handy-girling, even gardening!

  2. That’s awesome Suzy! I use mine for photography, or just general whatever and have a bunch to match my moods.

    Aprons are the new purse!

  3. Your quinoa makes me wonder: is store-bought quinoa a viable seed? I’d love to try growing some!

  4. I grew some radicchio last year that I got at a farmers market. Apparently it was an old fashioned kind that doesn’t automatically create red heads. It was green and leafy. I read that I would need to chop it off after the first frost and a red head would appear. It bolted before I got around to chopping it off but it did turn red later in the season. Too much work for me and the green leaves weren’t very good. Hope you got the kind that goes directly to the red head.

  5. Rachel: I’m gonna guess yes since it is a whole grain. I can’t say with any certainty but it would make a fun experiment.

  6. Hi Gayla,

    I stumbled across your site while looking for somewhere to buy local organic seeds for a ritual this weekend. Do you have any reccomendations other then Whole Foods where I can contact someone directly to pick up enough seeds for 150 people to all plant small garden veg and herbs (tomatoes, mint, carrots etc) and someone who would be available to sell to me directly before Friday?

    Thanks in advance for any advice, my original contact fell through last minute when their baby arrived a week early :)


  7. Stephanie: Lots of places would be better than Whole Foods… I just happened to be there and found those particular seeds. However I don’t know anyone that ships that quickly. I also don’t know where you live so can’t make local recommendations. A few organic seed sellers:

  8. Hi Gayla, how are you. I got some seeds for Melokhiya and am very excited about the prospect. Do you know how to start them? Do I plant outdoors directly, or start early indoors? Thanks in advance.
    Now that I know about this site, I will keep it bookmarked. Always looking for places to purchase exotic seeds,

  9. Paul,

    This is my first year growing Melokhiya so I have no advice based on actual experience to impart at this point. I will say that I’m expecting that because this is grown in Egypt that warmth will be the key to success.

    I direct sow my greens… starting indoors and transplanting outside is a pain and most greens don’t take well to it. So I’ve been planning to wait until the soil is really and truly warm before starting them… later than lettuces and other greens that I started weeks ago. I’m planning to test run a batch soon. Will let you know how it goes.

  10. Being of Mid Eastern Decent, love eating Melokhiya, stewed with chicken or beef and lemon and herbs. You can buy it at ethnic grocery stores in season, but never knew you could grow it here. Yum!

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