2016 Seed Orders

March break is in full swing.  This year, we decided to have a staycation…and it’s been exhausting, in a good way :)

Nature Trail at Guelph Arboretum
Each day I planned a full day’s worth of activities including a maple syrup farm (thought of Will when we did this), visiting Chinatown & Kensington market in Toronto, going to the Royal Ontario Museum, seeing an awesome performance at Second City, and finding our first ever Geocache on one of the nature trails at the Guelph Arboretum (inspired by Lou).  Of course, we were so excited that we completely forgot to get a photo of our find.

Cooking down maple syrup the old fashioned way...
We are taking a day off & hanging out at the house on this sunny, but coolish Thursday – which is just fine by me.  I have a few things to tick off on my “to-do” list, including getting the seed potatoes out of storage and starting a few of the brassicas – I’ll be posting details in a few days on those.

Today my focus is on seed orders for this year.  I was actually surprised (or maybe not) that I ended up ordering as much as I did since most of the varieties on my plan are repeats from last year.  Such is the nature of ordering seeds…your cart inevitably ends up a lot fuller than you planned.

I have a few “go to” sources that I order from each year - William Dam, Baker Creek, Pinetree & High Mowing.  I did a post back in 2015 on why I love these sources so much.  In addition to my regulars, I also like to choose one extra source, which changes from year to year.  This gives me the opportunity to try varieties that are not widely available.  Once I settle on this extra source, I’ll browse their catalogue for other seeds that pique my interest.  Since most seeds will remain viable for a few years, I don’t have to worry about fitting all of them into this year’s garden.

* = New to the garden

William Dam Seeds

William Dam Order
Arugula - Speedy*
Carrots – Bolero*
Chinese Greens – Joi Choi
Onion, Bunching – White Welsh*
Leeks - Autumn Giant*, Hannibal*
Radish – China Rose*
Shallots – Camelot (on backorder); Conservor

There will be a few new carrot varieties this year, including one of Daphne’s favourites, Bolero.   I quite liked the Nebuka bunching onions I grew last year, but in the interest of comparing different varieties, decided to give White Welsh a try.  The Camelot shallots that I normally grow were on backorder & since I needed to start them ASAP, I decided to substitute Conservor instead.  The one radish I'm adding to my lineup this year is a winter radish, China Rose, which was recommended by Michelle (as was the Speedy arugula).  We’ll see if I have better luck with this one than the White Icicle I tried to grow unsuccessfully for the past few years.

My daughter, who joined me that day & also wants to get in on the growing, placed a few seed packets into the basket as well:  California poppy, Balls Orange calendula, Summer Dance cucumbers & Sweet 100 tomatoes.

Pinetree Garden Seeds

Pinetree Order
Beans, Snap – Provider*
Carrots – Mokum*
Chinese Cabbage – Soloist*
Chinese Greens – Tatsoi
Cucumber – Diva*
Kale – Starbor*
Kohlrabi – Kossak*
Lettuce – Freckles*, Jericho*, Winter Density*
Onion – Copra, Ailsa Craig, Red Wing
Parsnip - Harris Model*

Parsnips will be new to the garden this year - there seem to be very few varieties out there, with Harris Model being the most popular so I thought I would start with that one.  Also new to the garden is Napa cabbage – these guys tend to be huge so I’m trying two varieties that are supposed to be on the smaller side, one of which is Soloist.  The lettuce additions were a “just because” sort of thing – I love lots of variety in the lettuce bed.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Baker Creek Order
Eggplant – Thai Long Green*
Onion – Jaune Paille des Vertus*
Peas, Snow – Golden Sweet*
Pepper, Sweet – Odessa Market*
Pepper, Hot – Lemon Drop (aka Aji Limon)*
Spinach - Giant Noble*
Summer Squash – Patisson Panache Jaune et Vert*
Winter Squash – Seminole Pumpkin*, Thai Rai Kaw Tok*
Tomato, Paste – Amos Coli*
Sunflower - Lemon Queen (free gift)*

Yes, I’m already growing 4 varieties of globe onion, so why bother adding another.  But I really LOVE growing onions, and the Jaune Paille des Vertus called out to me.  Then there was the Patisson Panache Jaune et Vert scallop squash.  I guess I have a thing for French names :).  Golden Sweet & Odessa are two varieties recommended by Michelle, I first saw Lemon Drop (Aji Limon) on Mark’s blog and Thai Rai Kaw Tok is one of Dave’s favourites.

High Mowing Organic Seeds

High Mowing Order
Chinese Cabbage – Kaboko*
Carrot – Yaya*, Starburst Blend (backordered)*
Cucumber – Green Finger*
Salad Greens – Claytonia*
Kale – Red Ursa*
Onion – Rossa di Milano
Pea, Snow – Mammoth Melting* (sold out)
Spinach – Butterflay*

Kaboko is another Napa that is supposed to be (relatively) small and Claytonia, which I've not tried before, sounds like it would be a wonderful addition to a salad.  Blogger inspired purchases from High Mowing include Green Finger (Michelle) and Red Ursa & Yaya (Dave).

I was quite disappointed when it came to the Mammoth Melting snow peas.  A couple of weeks after I placed my order, I received a notice that delivery would be delayed until the end of February.  A few weeks later, I received another notification that they would be delayed until the end of March.  Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was advised that they were sold out for the season.  Had I known there was a possible supply issue when ordering back in January, I could have purchased them from Baker Creek instead.  Oh well.  I guess I’ll have to wait until next year to try them.  I’m still waiting on the Starburst blend carrots & hoping they don’t have a similar fate.

The Cottage Gardener

Cottage Gardener Order
Beans, Dried – Canadian Wonder*, Arikara Yellow*, Black Calypso*, Speckled Cranberry*
Beans, Romano - Garden of Eden*, Golden of Bacau
Peppers, Sweet – Chervena Chushka*, Feher Ozon*

The Cottage Gardener was my extra company this year.  You can see that practically every packet from them is a "new to me" variety.  They have a wonderful selection of heirloom bean varieties and I took full advantage.  Well, perhaps not FULL advantage, as I could have purchased many more varieties than I did, but I still walked away with more than will fit into the garden this year.

This is the company I purchased my beloved Golden of Bacau beans from several years ago – the unfortunate carrier of bacterial brown spot (or so I suspect).  I noticed that Cottage Gardener stopped carrying this variety for a year or two, but now it’s back.  I have my fingers crossed that the disappearing/reappearing act relates to the brown spot and means that the current batch of seeds is not infected.  I also decided to try another Romano from them, Garden of Eden, which is a green variety.

And that’s about it for my seed purchases this year....up to now anyhow.  I’ll be going to the garden centre within the next couple of weeks so I’ll likely be scouring the seed stands and pick up a few more packets.

I'll end this post with a photo from our walk at the Guelph Arboretum.  When I saw this guy, I immediately thought of Mark & his love of fungi:

At about 12" (30cm) across,
this is probably the biggest mushroom I've ever seen!


  1. My dear, you will have a most interesting variety growing this year.
    Hooray for the start of the season! Though we can't yet venture out---starting seeds is the next best thing.
    Happy Spring

    1. Happy spring to you too, Sue! The weather is definitely cooperating this year...so far. Still wondering whether we will be getting the traditional April dump of snow :)

  2. So many interesting and new varieties! I am also trying yaya carrots for the first time this year (although I think my inspiration was Daphne). I might have to try Baker Creek next year, your selections are great - I also wanted to try Dave's Thai Rai squash.

    1. Thanks Susie - I do love trying out new varieties! Others suggestions are such a great source of inspiration but sometimes, a pretty picture and over-the-top description will have me hitting the "add to cart" button as well :)

  3. Good choice of vendors and good choice of seeds. I also like Johnny's because they breed a lot of vegetables that are suitable for their climate (northern Maine probably isn't that different from Ontario). You should have good results from the Napa varieties you chose. Mmmm, lots of kimchi and dumplings. Have enough garlic chives planted?

    1. I do like Johnny's but their price point is quite a bit higher than most other seed houses, especially with the Canadian dollar being so low. Even their cheaper seeds would cost us around $5.50/packet. Once the dollar recovers, however, they will jump to the top of my list.

      Garlic chives are on the list & I was planning on getting some from the garden centre. I think I've changed my mind, however, and will get seeds from an oriental seed house instead as they seem to have some different varieties. I always thought "garlic chives" WERE the variety :)

  4. Your post has got me smiling and laughing, there's lots of *** in my seed acquisition list too, many of which were inspired by my favorite garden bloggers! I definitely got a laugh from your Claytonia selection, something that I was "weeding" out of one of my beds today, it's a native here and volunteers all over the place. One of your new pepper selections is one that I've grown before, Chervena Chuska is a good one, only edged out of my garden because I'm so fickle and always trying somethng new...

    1. That's so funny about the Claytonia - I wonder if it will self-seed around here. Sometimes these less familiar veg have habits that surprise you, and not in a good way! I had Orach on my list but promptly removed it when I read that it was a monster, both in terms of size and self-seeding unless you keep on top of it (something I'm usually not the best at doing).

      It's too bad that we are constrained by the size of our gardens. With the limits imposed by garden space, it's not always about replacing varieties that have done poorly or you don't like. Sometimes you have to set aside "good" ones as well, which is always a bit of a gamble as you may end up replacing it with a bad performer, either in the garden or kitchen. But the excitement of trying something new is more than worth it, isn't it? :)

  5. What a great staycation! Some years it is just good to do that. I find many people forget to visit all the great places in their own backyard (so to speak). I love ordering seeds, and always order too many. You have a nice selection to grow. This year I ordered several seed packets just for the artwork on the seed packets! Of course, I'll grow the seeds too.

    1. So true, Karin - we tend to take for granted places that are close by because, hey, we can go there anytime, right? And then we'll talk to people from out of town and realize they have done and seen more in our area than we have!

      And I LOVE artwork on seed packets as well, especially those from years gone by. Can't wait to see what you decide to grow this year...not like you are wanting for space, or anything!

  6. I recognise one or two varieties but most are new to me.

    1. I find that a lot with all the varieties gardeners in the UK grow, most of which I've never heard of. As our world "shrinks" with the internet, etc., I have a feeling this won't be the case for much longer.

  7. That's a lot of seeds, a varied and interesting selection. I've been doing the opposite this year, sorting out all my old seeds and passing them on. I've only kept a few packets myself and I'll start fresh when I start growing again.

    1. That's a good idea - seeds do stay viable for a few years, but if you don't plan to use them, best they be given to someone who will enjoy them. And then think of all the fun you'll have replenishing your stash once you do decide to expand your growing again!

  8. Love the newcomer selection of seeds and nice choice to "staycation" :) and congratulations on finding a dryad's saddle (also known as pheasant's back)mushroom. it's a bit old, but still nice looking :)

    1. Well, I had no idea what that mushroom was - thanks for the ID, Jenny! There were quite a few on logs that were scattered throughout the trail; I suppose they would have been at their peak a week or so before we went.

  9. Sounds like you had a lovely staycation! Those are some of my favorite days... just having time to do whatever I want. And I always love ordering seeds for the year. Your selections look so exciting!

    1. Thanks Jennifer - I'm really looking forward to giving them all a try. That first harvest of a brand new variety is always so exciting!

      I love going away and all, but for me, a staycation is the best of both worlds - few at home responsibilities as you are "technically" on vacation AND you get to come home to my own bed at the end of the day :)

  10. Wow, that is a big mushroom! You have lots of interesting varieties there for sure. I do like the China Rose radish too, and it makes great sprouts as well.

    1. There is always lots of variety inspiration from people like yourself!

  11. That mushroom is truly a giant! I wonder if it is an edible type. It would be enough to serve a whole family!
    What is your opinion about seed packaging, in relation to its design? Do you think that having a nice picture or photo on the pack influences the purchaser's choice, or is plain packaging just as good? I sometimes buy from a firm called "Simply Seeds" and their seeds all come in identical green plastic packs (with a paper envelope inside). They all look the same, which makes it hard to find the one you're looking for (especially if you have a big stash of seeds!)

    1. If this is indeed a "dryad's saddle" as Jenny suggested, then it would be edible, although I think those I found were quite past their prime. Even if they weren't, I wouldn't be risking it!

      When it comes to seed packaging, I think a lot depends on the buyer. I'm not so much influenced by how nice a packet is as by what's inside. But having said that, I can see myself purchasing a beautiful packet of seeds FOR the packaging, so that I could use it in some sort of display (and still use the seeds, of course!).

      I do know what you mean about searching through a batch of seeds when all the packets are the same (as in those from Pinetree) - having to read every packet instead of quickly scanning through them is definitely tedious! On the plus side, those packets are probably a lot less costly to produce, so that could mean some cost savings for the consumer.

  12. Tomorrow is the first day of spring and it looks like you will be ready to start working full force! What a lot to keep track of! Guess I am not that serious of a gardener! But I have to cut back and wouldn't have room to grow half of those seeds. I hope you have a very successful gardening year! Nancy

    1. Thank you Nancy - I would say the measure of a gardener is all about how much you love to grow and tend to what you have, regardless of the amount of space or number of plants - so that makes you a very serious gardener indeed! Happy Spring!!

  13. Seed starting time! I don't use grow lights, but I like to start a few plants from seed in my sunroom. Then, later in the spring, I have a little cold-frame that seems to work pretty well, too. Good luck with all your seeding! I'm glad you had some pleasant time off with the family!


    1. Hurray for seed starting time! I think most of my seedlings would end up in the sunroom too if I had one - it would be so much nicer to tend to them in a "normal" room than have them relegated to the basement. Maybe one day...


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