Friday, March 13, 2009

Mary Mary, Quite Contrary

The first in a weekly series.

Eating better and exercising, along with the first breath of spring that has swept over Tennessee this week, has caused the gardening bug to bite.  (Update:  after less than a month I'm down 6 pounds and 1 pants size, yay!)  I got my Burpee seed catalog last week, and I confess I love Richter's herbs, but it occurred to me to take a peek at what Etsy has to offer potential gardeners.  As it turns out, quite a bit.  This week I'm going to highlight heirloom vegetables and herbs, but in future weeks look for posts on flowers, the fruits of garden labors, and gardening gadgets.

What the heck's an heirloom vegetable?  It can be any cultivar (variety) of a plant that was grown during earlier periods in human history.  I first heard this term when my (step) grandfather found his family's heirloom tomato in a seed catalog.  For me, the Soldacki tomato was just what homegrown tomatoes looked like, but grandpa has been cultivating the seeds of the same tomatoes his family brought from Poland around 1910.  About ten years ago he gave some seeds to someone, and now they're available from many seed distributors and even on  Go figure :)  For the record, they're a meaty "beefsteak" variety that slices really well and is great on sandwiches and burgers. 

I'm dreaming of salads made colorful and tasty with this romaine variety.  Is it not gorgeous?  I'll quote from the listing for this:  "The nice thing about growing an heirloom variety of seed is that you can save some of these seeds, and they will grow "true to type" for future use."

Mamaw's Sweetest Cantaloupe Heirloom Seeds from Smokymist Gardens

I'm a little afraid to try to grow cantaloupe, mostly because I can pretty easily eat a whole one in a sitting.  This picture has me craving it badly!  The seller tells a story about trading seeds with her mom and finding this gem.  Wow, that's so cool!  Cantaloupe is the nectar of the gods, I think.  I might have to pick up a few of these seeds if I can carve out the space for a melon patch.

These aren't your perfectly round, perfectly red-orange, mostly flavorless grocery store tomatoes.  These are massive, lumpy, tasty, home grown tomatoes.  And think how cool they'd look in a salad, or on a burger, or best yet -- salsa!  Like my grandfather's tomatoes, these are hefty (though not quite as hefty - the description says 8 to 12 oz. whereas Soldackis are generally a meaty one pound).  Best of all, they're higher in antioxidants than orange tomatoes.  And if you grow them right, free of pesticides.  Check out The Bearfoot Shaman's other heirloom varieties, too.

Not strictly heirloom, I had to add some herbs because I don't grow a garden without them.  If you do, reconsider.  There is NOTHING like fresh basil and oregano and parsley to jazz up the flavor of a salad.  Mint tea is amazing iced.  You can't do your own salsa (which I highly recommend over the jar variety) without fresh cilantro.  Sage is made for chicken, and rosemary for potatoes.  This mix has all but the rosemary and mint.  The great thing about growing herbs is that you don't need a garden.  A sunny window or a few pots on the patio will do just fine.  Just make sure they get their water every day.

Happy gardening, and happy spring (almost).


SLColman said...

Oh wow. Living in Wyoming it isn't time to garden yet... but I do dream of it... LOL

Some really lovely looking plants available!!

-Stephanie @

Jennifer said...

I can't wait to get herbs started! I haven't ventured into veggies or fruits yet. Someday...

(go you on the lost pounds!)

storybeader said...

that cantaloupe looks good. Think we'll try that again.

Alterity said...

Wow...thanx for the reminder...gotta get my seeds! I plant my beets, onions, peas and radishes right around Good Friday! Whew...I almost forgot!

Starla said...

i'm so excited to see who else you feature! i only recently discovered these types of sellers on etsy. i didn't know this was sold there but it makes perfect sense and i'm VERY excited. even though i live in the city, a girl can dream. :) i do look forward to the day i can have my own house with a garden.