Friday, January 18, 2008

Anticipation is making me wait...for spring

I am so ready for spring. And not just because Mother Nature is cackling as she sends temperatures in Seattle plunging again. It’s because I placed my annual spring seed order with Territorial Seeds this week. I can’t wait for them to arrive (My preeeecioussss...).

Of course, in planning my order, I ran smack dab into one of my most tormenting addictions: heirloom winter squash seeds. I thought I had it licked, but I guess my change in location was just a temporary salve.

You see, my previous house (about an hour north of Seattle) was on a half-acre lot. We had a HUGE vegetable garden. With all the space in the world for whatever my little seed-planting soul desired. Couple that with the fact that I think most vegetables are as pretty as they are edible, and you can see how I got led into temptation.

Winter squash wasn’t my only trouble. Summer squash was tough, too. And do you have any idea how many pretty heirloom pole beans there are? Do you? Then there were the lettuces: oak leaf, ruffled leaf, tongue-shaped leaf, butter head, speckled…the list REALLY goes on and on.

One thing about lettuces, pole beans and summer squash is that they don’t take up TOO much room. You can’t say that about winter squash. Boy, can those babies sprawl! So beautiful, too. In fact, almost too beautiful to actually eat… . (Don’t even get J started on this point. Boy, do I still hear about it!)

When we moved to Seattle’s urban core and had only small community garden plots to call our own, sheer space constraints pushed any thoughts of planting winter squash off the table. The space situation isn’t a whole lot better with the veggie plot that takes up most of the plantable area in our current back garden…but there’s a new twist to the plot this year. (Accidental pun alert: story plot…garden plot.)

When we turned our front yard from a sloping lawn to a leveled-off, retaining wall encased garden last year, most of the trees and shrubs we planted were small, to save on $ (since plants do grow, often faster than you know). So we have lots of bare space right now. Space where winter squash vines could quite happily meander.

Yes, when I realized this, I did have to be careful not to hyperventilate.

I felt pretty good, limiting myself to only four varieties of winter squash + one pumpkin, but J made me remove one from my online shopping cart [sniff]. The one I am most excited about, my non-negotiable, is Marina di Chioggia. This squash first crossed my radar years ago, but it became a must-have when I read Barbara Kingsolver’s account of encountering it in its natural habitat (Italy) in “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.”

I’m also pretty pleased with my pumpkin pick, Fairytale. I’ll also be planting some Small Sugar pumpkin seeds I already have.

2008 is going to be my best vegetable garden year ever (well, to date). With a smaller urban yard, and no guerilla gardening to be done this year (digging ditches, removing sod, putting in a side yard where once there was driveway), I can focus on my vegetable babies. Hey, spring! Hurry the heck up, will ya?

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