Jumble o’ Seeds Puzzle

Tucked in an section of freezer where I dare not interfere are tucked sundry packets of seeds, patiently wintering until Jason gets around to planting them each spring. Sometimes I wonder about the disastrous confusion that would ensue if these somehow got mixed up or mislabeled. Are you prepared for such an eventuality? Test yourself with this seed identification puzzle. And don’t be too tough on yourself; give yourself partial credit if you manage to name a vegetable in the same family as the answer I’ve given.

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The Seduction of Spring: A Seed Catalog Puzzle

Renee's GardenI woke up this morning feeling, in light of last weekend’s sidewalk thaw, that it might be a good morning for a run. Then I realized it was 14 degrees outside, and my enthusiasm waned considerably. I like winter (I do!), but this is the time of year when gardeners and cooks alike begin to itch for warm weather and the promise of fresh local produce.

Reading through seed catalogs on a morning like this feels illicit, full of sensual but very distant pleasures. This is at least in part due to the descriptions themselves, which are colorful, exuberant and (at least to my cold-addled brain) a touch erotic. Below, I’ve pulled some names and descriptions from the online seed catalog for Renee’s Garden. Can you guess what kind of vegetable is being described in each case? If you can identify all twelve, you’ve got it bad for spring.

1) Chelsea Prize: Elegantly slender, thin-skinned English with absolutely delicious, crispy sweet flesh. Easy to digest. Self-pollinating, vigorous vines.

2) Circus Circus: Our trio of cool colors includes creamy white, bright orange and a deep, dark purple with orange centers. All 3 well-bred Dutch varieties are sweet tasting, crisp and smooth.

3) Garden Babies: These babies have softly folded leaves, a lovely buttery texture and outstanding sweet taste. Ideal for containers, Garden Babies are slow bolting, heat tolerant, and make compact 6-inch heads at maturity.

4) Mandarin Cross: Golden-orange fruits with wonderful creamy texture and a mouthwatering sweet, even flavor finish These gorgeous fruit are borne in abundance and ripen like jewels on strong indeterminate vines.

5) Neon Glow: Color combo of vivid Magenta Sunset and Golden Sunrise stalks that contrast beautifully with green savoyed leaves for bright color and great eating. Eye-catching, productive, and striking in both vegetable and flowerbeds.

6) Profuma di Genova: Our fine Italian import is bred for pure bright flavor without minty/clove overtones, a compact shape and excellent disease resistance.

7) Raven: Dark green, smooth-skinned, cylindrical fruits are glossy and especially tender-fleshed. Delicious flavor picked as babies or at larger sizes. Abundant fruits are born high up on bush style plants that don’t sprawl.

8) Slenderette: The sleek rounded pods of gourmet-quality Slenderette are particularly tender, juicy, and sweet tasting with no tough tips or fiber. Vigorous, productive plants bear delectable, bright green, 5 inch pods early in the season.

9) Striped Chioggia: Italian heirloom with bright, candy-red exteriors & interior flesh beautifully marked in alternating rings of cherry red and white. Delicious sweet flavor & fine texture. Great tasting leafy tops.

10) Sugar Daddy: High yielding bush vines that load up early with double pods, plump and nutty-sweet, at each plant node. Hard to resist eating right on the spot.

11) Sunset: Beautiful heirloom mix yields huge, elongated tapering fruits with thick, meaty flesh that mature to rich red, yellow or orange. Perfect for snacking, salads, sauté, or roasting.

12) Wyatt’s Wonder: Gorgeous, globe-shaped, deeply lobed, rich orange giants. Developed especially for impressive size and beauty.

Don’t click Continue until you’re ready for the answers… Continue reading

Seedlings of the Night

Cheeky little scamps! I recently came across some personal ads and glamour shots that our seedlings had been planning on posting in the local paper. And you try to raise ‘em right….

Morning glory seedlingMorning Glory

Long, leggy beauty seeks someone to wrap herself around. Enjoys sunrises and hopping fences. Shorties need not apply.

Pea shootEnglish Peas

Fancy a little British invasion all your own? Early bloomer seeks same. We could be like two in a…well, you know.

Rainbow chard seedlingsRainbow Chard

Me: A colorful personality who’s not afraid to be different. You: A connoisseur who won’t skimp on the butter when you saute me over a long, low heat.

Kale seedlingRagged Jack Kale

Tired of that limp-legged sissy chard? Right this way, baby, to the manliest of the greens. Don’t believe anyone who says I’m too tough, though—slide me into your oven and I’ll crumble.

Lessons Learned

vegetable summitPas de Carrotte

Conferences are not really my scene. The crowds, the terrible coffee, the frenzied schmoozing—it all makes me grumpy, even (or maybe especially) if it’s to celebrate a rather quiet and solitary pursuit like gardening. But I’d landed in an auditorium in the Bronx with thousands of other community gardening folk for 2012 GreenThumb GrowTogether, listening to the NYC Park Commissioner tell us that children needed to play with mud pies instead of Xboxes. It’s a sentiment that I don’t disagree with, but something about this preachy and half-assed pandering to the crowd sparked a flame of irascibility in me that was to burn steadily for the duration of the event. Luckily, the political speeches were broken up by a group of adorable Brooklyn dancers recreating a scene from Harlem’s Savoie in the 1930s. Everyone was too relieved to question what any of this had to do with gardening. Continue reading