Grit Blogs > Letters From Alabama

New Year Gardening Plans

The Historic FoodieI trust everyone had a nice gathering at Christmas, we certainly did. We traveled to Pennsylvania to visit family and enjoyed Christmas day lunch with Martin’s mom at the Lutheran Retirement facility in Hanover. Traveling back and forth from there to our hotel and to visit other family members, we saw more Christmas light displays than I have in years.

We were fortunate to have a friendly and knowledgeable young man, a neighbor, take care of our poultry flock for us. He’s been raised on a farm and probably knows more about how to care for them than we do, and his willingness to help meant the difference in being able to visit with Mom or not. You can’t put a price on that.

No GMONow that tomorrow is the first of 2015 and the seed catalogs are arriving daily, I am devouring them page by page and item by item. I want heritage, open pollinated, non-GMO seed, and the best way to do that is to purchase from a company that carries only those types of seeds. I’m getting what I feel good about planting, and I am supporting a small company that is dedicated to preserving heritage seeds. As the Monsanto GMO monster grows, the work done by small heritage seed companies must not go unnoticed or unrewarded.

I’ve highlighted in the Sow True Seed catalog until it looks like a neon marker exploded. I am looking seriously at vegetables that can naturally tolerate heat and humidity, that are vigorous producers, and as disease and pest resistant as I can find. I’m not looking for exotics to experiment with at this point – I simply want the best quality in basic vegetables and I found that with Sow True Seed.

Sow True Seed 2015 catalog cover art by Beatriz Mendoza |

The 2015 Sow True Seed catalog cover, art by Beatriz Mendoza. Courtesy

Our property had not been maintained as well as it might have been for some time prior to us buying it because the previous owner was not well and has since passed away. We have a huge insect, worm and caterpillar problem, enough so that aside from pears, figs and a few blueberries, the fruit from last year never made it to the table, and my cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower look like Swiss cheese due to cabbage looper damage. By choosing wisely, I hope for success under these less than desirable conditions with spring planting.

perennial onionI’ve ordered some perennials that should mean a harvest for years to come – asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, Egyptian walking onion (at left) and shallots, and I’m considering lovage for soups and salads. Martin bought me a book on perennial vegetables for Christmas that is motivating me and I can’t take my nose out of it. I’ve also been inspired by another he gave me, Jessi Bloom’s “Free-Range Chicken Gardens.”

From Sow True Seeds I’m considering Arkansas Little Leaf pickling cucumber (I’m a little intrigued by the Mexican Sour Gherkin), Slow Bolt Arugula, Upland Creasy Greens, Southern Giant Curled Mustard, White Vienna Kohlrabi, Jericho and Parris Island Romaine lettuce, Clemson Spineless okra, Seminole Pumpkin, Purple Top White Globe turnip, and various and sundry herbs. I won’t plant all of these at once, but will decide which I want most and as one crop is harvested, replace it with another. I’ll be doing a little pest-free indoor gardening with sprouts from Sow True.

cabbage worm, photo from Old Farmer AlmanacI will be fertilizing vigorously, using my poultry flock to help control the pests, and I will spray the fruit trees and grapes so hopefully some of them end up on the table this year. I’m going to do serious battle with the cabbage worms, aphids and grasshoppers. Be Gone, Evil Bugs, I lay claim to these acres!