Seeds are freaking magic. A few years ago we started some herb seeds that never germinated. After about three or four weeks, we gave up. We threw the spent peat moss & seeds back into the bag and forgot about it. Months later when I was going through our dirty old basement I found the bag of peat moss. I opened it up and low and behold, there were a handful of sprouts stretching and reaching for the light, seeds that had germinated in the cold, dry and dark bag.
They wanted to survive, it was in their DNA to grow no matter the conditions. Seeds are so small and delicate, yet vast enough to contain all the information needed to make a specific plant resilient enough to survive even the harshest conditions. Each is encoded with the information that helps it thrive. It’s an absolute joy to be part of the miracle of plants.
Each year we sit down and look at our seed collection and decide what we are going to offer for pre-orders. We look at what did well last year, what new varieties are available & exciting to us this year and then we order the seeds. Over the years we have narrowed down our favorite companies to buy from.
One of our stand-out favorites is Two Cabbage Heads Creamery, which is a one-woman, one-man, seed farm in Bagley, MN! Cherish is a dear friend and we love supporting her and her budding seed business, as she has ours since we first met on an online gardening seed swap group.
Other favorite companies include; North Circle Seeds in Vergas, MN, Prairie Restoration in Princeton, MN (native seeds), Seed Savers in Decorah, IA and MIgardener in St Clair, MI and Sandia Seeds in New Mexico. Where we get our seeds is important and we try to support small and local businesses whenever we can.
After all the organizing and tallying and talking and dreaming, we write a little blog post about what varieties we are most excited about, just like we have done the previous two years. So here are some of our suggestions for the 2024 growing season. As always, reach out with any questions, we are also available and interested in talking seeds with you!
I used to not look twice at flowers and only focus on fruit bearing plants. But boy, was I missing out! Flowers not only bring much needed colors into your garden but also pollinators. Without them, we would have no fruits to harvest. My favorite flower from last season was nasturtiums. The entire plant is a tangy, spicy and edible masterpiece. They are terrific companion plants for just about everything, sacrificing themselves to pests and bugs. Another spectacular flower is the strawflower which blooms dry! It’s perfect for making wreaths and “forever” bouquets that last in your home for years. Finally, I cannot go a year without mentioning my all time favorite; calendula. This “plant-once”, self-seeder, medicinal herb and flower needs no introduction. Grow it once and you’ll surely fall in love.
It’s never easy to pick a favorite tomato; they are all so wonderful and widely different. However, there are a few new varieties offered this year that rise to the top. First, isis candy cherry tomatoes are a show stopper! This highly productive plant grows bicolor fruits, with gorgeous cat’s eye starbursts. It’s rich, sweet and juicy fruits are sure to please. Another variety we are super excited about is the New Yorker tomato. This shorter season plant grows strong 4-6 ounce fruits that are resistant to splitting and blossom end rot. It’s a determinate variety, producing fruits all at once, which is great for canning.
If you are like me, growing sweet peppers can be difficult. They can take forever and are often not very productive. Which is why I'm stoked about this sweet yellow bull’s horn pepper. They are a highly productive, Italian variety that are sweet, crunchy and excellent fresh or grilled! If you are looking for a hot pepper, look no further than Chinese 5-color. These highly versatile, multi color peppers produce all season long. Not only are they perfect for adding spice to any dishes (dried or fresh!) They are also beautiful ornamental plants. Another reason they are our favorite: they have been carefully cultivated by Two Cabbage Heads in zone 3b.
With each year we are getting more practiced at starting native perennial flowering plants. It’s a long and somewhat laborious task that starts in December with “cold stratification”. And this year, we are excited to be offering the “native garden kit” with 6 different native-to-Minnesota plants perfect for attracting pollinators into your garden. Of the natives offered, sneezeweed & vervain were hugely successful this year in our garden. Sneezeweed (not the cause of your allergies!) is a long blooming, daisy-like yellow flower that bees love. Vervain is a medicinal herb and pollinator plant that has striking tall long blue blooms. Both of these would be great additions to any garden!