by Curt Kovener
An unusually early November snow greeted us last month.
Perhaps that it the reason that in early December I received the unusually early first deed catalog of the season. It is a bit confusing trying to make Christmas preparations while being tempted by the seed and gardening catalog. Do I plan for the holiday or plan, contemplate and conspire for this year’s gardens?
At this time of year, while it is seasonally warming to have visions of sugar snap peas dancing in my head I am reminded that the volunteer tomatoes that sprang up around the compost bin produced prolifically without nary a touch of care but they produced right up until frost.
I often peruse the latest seed catalogs while contemplating life from the porcelain throne room.
Gardens Alive is a organic garden catalog which can supply you with bugs to eat the bugs that are bugging you and companion plants to keep other bugs at bay.
One of their offerings is 900 Ladybug beetles for $19.95. Shucks, if I’d known that I could have bottled up the crop I vacuumed in the house and paid for Christmas.
But I was interested in their bat houses. I want to try to build several for the wilderness retreat. Did you know that a bat eats 600-1,000 insects an hour and daily eats its weight in bugs every night? A friendly family of bats can eat a whopping number of mosquitoes & gnats.
On of my favorite catalogs is from the Vermont Bean Seed Company. While it has some magazine slick, full color pages of flowers and vegetables, the part I like are the inside pages, printed on newsprint with old-timey woodcut-like pictures. It puts you in the mind of the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Each page is filled with long descriptions of their vegetables offered. And the word pictures they conjure in the mind is far more vivid than any color computer enhanced offering on the magazine slick pages.
For instance “White Dutch Runner Pole Bean. One of the grandest of the pole beans. This all-purpose bean is good any way you eat it and each plant produces masses of them. Pick when 6″ long for snap beans. For meatier taste, pick when 12″ long, or later as a shell bean or a baking bean. Its white flowers also attract hummingbirds. Grows to over 10 feet tall.”
Wow! Forget about that cold white stuff that will be arriving outside. Can’t you just see a hot summer day with those large green pyramids of beans up to a foot long being buzzed and pollinated by tiny hummers?
Another catalog offers Orange Sunshine, a cantaloupe colored seedless watermelon “with luminous flesh like orange sherbet.”
Folks, I’m a traditionalist. Give me my watermelon red with seeds to spit, my corn yellow and buttered to drip off my mustache, and find me an organic way to keep the raccoons out of the corn.
While some of my backwoods friends taught me about planting by the signs, they tell me I should watch the raccoons. They’ll tell you when the corn is ready to pick. They will eat it the night before you pick it.