Colorful! Crisp!

Seed packetsThe Fall Gardens sign on the Earl May seed rack absolved me of any responsibility, as far as I was concerned. It wasn’t a matter of picking something that would grow in the late season in Iowa, it was a matter of picking something we would like to eat.

Those are the kind of choices I like.

I flipped through seed packets. I pulled several off the rack and peered at their backs for guidance. I like radishes, but did I want to pick out the kind that claim to grow in 24 days? Or could I wait 60 days for white icicle radishes? Did I want to deal with broccoli? Did I want red leaf lettuce? Or green?

In the end, I selected four packets: rainbow chard (Colorful!), white icicle radishes (Crisp!) mesclun mix lettuce (A complete salad!), and purple bush beans (Good for freezing!).

People. PEOPLE. What was I thinking? I did not have room for four new vegetables, particularly ones that come in packets. I am a seedling girl.

But I brought them home anyway. This is why I cannot go volunteer at the animal shelter.

On Monday night, I headed out to the blank, L-shaped canvas left by the zucchini plant. It was July 31, just one day before the Iowa State Extension Service says to get out of the planting business in Iowa.

I looked over the available space and determined that something had to go. That something was going to be the beans. I love beans, particularly the purple kind, which I think look cool and taste even better. But they’re another one of those viney, climbing vegetables, and I kind of have my hands full with the whole staking situation at the moment. Sadly, I set them aside. Maybe I can save the seeds for next year?

I sectioned off the area into thirds. I dug three trenches. I threw in some slow-release plant food, because I don’t have any compost, and then I opened up my seed packets.

Are the rest of you aware of how very many seeds come in a packet? I looked down at my little trenches. I looked into the seed packets.

Then, I made an executive decision. One can always thin, if one needs to. Plus, I’ve been spotting many more rabbits than usual lately. If I’m going to grow a salad bar for them, it might as well be plentiful. That way, maybe I’ll actually get a little salad of my own.

I dumped in all the mesclun seeds. All of them. Into a ditch about 2 inches deep and maybe a foot and a half long.

This was the point at which I envisioned experienced gardeners laughing at me. I decided to restrain myself with the chard, dumping only about half the seeds into the same size ditch, just to the left of the mesclun. The radish area was smaller, and I also stuck to half the packet.

I’m hoping the strong plants will survive, and I’m pretty excited about getting to watch something grow from seed. When we started the whole grand garden experiment, I thought maybe next year would be when I might attempt to grow from seed. This year? No way. But no one around here sells lettuce seedlings, at least not in late July. And I’m having way too much fun to give up on this garden before the first frost.

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15 Responses to “Colorful! Crisp!”


  1. 1 Carol August 4, 2006 at 8:43 pm

    Seeds, wonderful seeds! I love seeds and planting seeds. They are all little miracles. Good luck with your fall planting (and thinning!)

  2. 2 inadvertentgardener August 4, 2006 at 10:26 pm

    Thanks, Carol! We’ll see how it goes…

  3. 3 colesedwards August 4, 2006 at 10:41 pm

    I have the yummiest reciepe for chard…

    Saute a bit o butter and a bit o olive oil with some chunky garlic and a tiny amount of onion (like a table spoon or so). Add coursely chopped chard. Add a pinch of kosher salt (will start to let water out of veg) and a nice dash of fresh black pepper. Saute a bit, like 2 mintues or so. Add a table spoon of Balsamic Vinegar to about 2 cups chopped chard and cover with a lid to wilt. may take about 30 secs to 1 min. Yum. It is also good if you saute some chicken or whatever first and then do the chard. You can also use a strong red wine, like Red Zin or something. I like rainbow chard the best for this. You can also use a mixture of Napa cabbage and chard and cook it in a tiny amount of bacon grease…use the chopped bacon as a topping. Add some goat cheese after it comes out of the pan. yum. If you don’t eat meat, sorry…just do it without…still so good.

    Now I want some chard..farmers market tomorow!

  4. 4 inadvertentgardener August 4, 2006 at 11:13 pm

    Cole…yum…that sounds incredible! I’ll have to try it, assuming the chard grows. I have another great chard recipe, but I’m saving it for Weekend Herb Blogging. I’ll keep you posted.

  5. 5 steven August 5, 2006 at 6:50 am

    So far all my Fall planting efforts have been mental. I suppose I’d better decide soon since the first snow hit last year before Thanksgiving.

  6. 6 inadvertentgardener August 5, 2006 at 8:42 am

    Steven, please do not talk to me about the first snow, which I already dread. Aack. But yes, as soon as you’re finished this round of canning, you should plant! Plant!

    Do you need some purple bean seeds?

  7. 7 steven August 5, 2006 at 9:10 am

    I need a purple bean seed planter!

  8. 8 chrispy August 5, 2006 at 10:21 am

    For future reference, the purple bush beans don’t ever need to be staked. They produce less than a climbing bean but are great if you want to plant in pots or not deal with an invader. I planted 12 this year from seed and freaked out that I one had to many. So I gave away 3, but the rest barely produce enough for dinner when they are ripe. This does not matter since they are great fresh.

  9. 9 inadvertentgardener August 5, 2006 at 10:24 am

    Steven, that’s just because you’re so busy putting up food! I know I’m going to be jealous when it’s the dead of winter and you’re still tasting memories of summer. Perhaps I’ll have to get into the whole canning thing at some point…

    Chrispy, really? No staking? Hmm. Maybe I’ll plant some anyway. After all, overcrowded gardens are so much fun…

  10. 10 Claire Splan August 5, 2006 at 1:02 pm

    Genie, I don’t mean to be critial or rain on your parade in any way, but I have to ask this: Did the packet say to plant the seeds 2 inches deep? Seems really deep to me–my mesclun packets say to only cover with 1/4 inch of soil.

    I have a ridiculously spotty record of success with seeds but I find that when I really follow the directions on the packet and don’t wing it as I am so inclined to do, my success rate goes way up. Damn these seed people–they really know what they’re talking about!

    At any rate, good luck with it. Even with your toxic walnut tree situation, your vegetable garden has been more productive than mine this year! Good for you!

  11. 11 inadvertentgardener August 5, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    Claire, nope, you’re not raining on my parade at all! You’re right — I didn’t do the best job of following the directions on the seed packet, but part of my thinking was based on the location of the seeds within the garden. My plot is slightly sloped downward, and there’s a certain amount of run-off that happens in the direction of the mesclun and beyond. I was pretty sure I’d lose dirt along the way, so I thought I’d go deeper rather than shallower. Two inches might be an exaggeration, though.

    We’ll see how it goes — if it doesn’t work, I have another lesson learned for next year!

  12. 12 Claire Splan August 7, 2006 at 3:47 pm

    Aha! Run-off! Yet another gardening challenge. Good luck!


  1. 1 The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on September 27, 2006 at 11:39 pm
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