I got the call from the Recreation Department in mid-April. I was officially off the wait-list! I’d be rejoining the community garden this year.
It was a good feeling to get the good news – I’d moved in the past year and so couldn’t have a front yard garden as before. I was ready to go! The only problem (but not really, in the big picture) was the Recreation Department’s follow-up detail that the garden wasn’t ready for planting yet. They said it might be ready in a few weeks – maybe by Mother’s Day – after the annual roto-tilling and plot-marking was done. In the end, they bested their Mother’s Day mark by about a week, so come the first week in May, everything was set. We were underway.
The community garden in early May, ready for planting. Overall: a 4 x 6 grid of plots, so space for 24. My plot: center bottom here.
And then so what to plant? To the farmers’ market! The market!…For some plugs to transplant. And to the box! The box! …For the collection of seeds I’d accumulated over time by purchase (most of them), by gift (a few), or by end-of-season collecting (a handful).
Curious to know what was inside? So was I!
The view upon opening
The box certainly contained an assortment of seeds. Here are a few stats and a look at the contents:
- Total number of seed packets/bags/containers: 109
- Greatest amount of any one kind: Sunflowers – 11
- Second place: Tomatoes – 8
- Oldest packet: Peppermint – 1999
- Second oldest: Chinese Cabbage – 2001 (two packets) (also a Hot Pepper packet and a Sweet Pepper packet – 2001)
- Newest packet: Zucchini – 2014 (from the NOFA-NJ conference – free)
- Second newest: Sunflowers and Carrots – 2013 (from Johnny’s – purchased)
- Packets that pack a story: Three flower packets from The Page Seed Company (Marigolds, Snapdragons, Pansies) that have the Hartford Courant imprimatur on the back
I got these seeds for free over ten years ago while working in Connecticut, so now they’re not so much Hartford Courant as Hartford Old seeds. I have a feeling that the Courant germination rate may be similar to an Old germination rate now. I’m going to plant some and see what happens.
Maybe one day there’ll also be a Princeton Packet seed promotion, and then I could say I got a pack of Packet seed packets.
The box also contained some interesting odds and ends, like a ziploc bag full of marigold seeds, a bent spoon container with sunflower seeds, a small folded paper with some chives seeds, and a medicine bottle with Grandpa Ott Morning Glory seeds.
Grandpa Ott in a bottle. I don’t actually have a Grandpa Ott, but my aunt’s handwriting had me thinking for a minute that maybe I did.
I always liked morning glories – as a kid I can remember them climbing the strings on the side of the house all the way up to the attic fan, and I can also remember being inside the attic looking out, seeing the morning glories almost trying to come in – so it was an easy decision to plant some of these. Plus, there’s the awesome medicine bottle storage! I definitely wouldn’t have to worry about little kids eating the seeds and then having morning glories sprout in the their stomachs. (To be honest, morning glories probably wouldn’t sprout in their stomachs, but I heard it might be a different story with watermelon seeds, which kids could consume with a greater frequency).*
First I planted some morning glories the garden. This is how they look in mid-June, a few weeks after sprouting.
I also planted some in a planter by my house. My next step here will be to talk with my neighbor about some strategic planter placement to see how Grandpa Ott feels about climbing a fire escape.
Of the other interesting odds and ends above, I also tried planting the marigold and sunflower seeds in the garden, but apparently they didn’t share the same vigor as the morning glory seeds and decided not to come up.
No matter though, at least for the sunflowers. I dipped into my multitude of other seed packets and found success there.
A little baby sunflower in mid-June. Now imagine about 30 of these in close proximity, and then imagine all of them all grown up and with lots of beautiful flowers. And then remember to check back here in a few months to see if your imagination matches how this portion (about a quarter) of the garden plot turns out.
As for the rest of the plot, I have about 4/5 of it planted now after a month and a half. I transplanted about 10 tomatoes (mostly of the sauce and paste variety), 4 hot peppers (of the some degree of hot variety), and 6 basil plants (of the traditional Genovese, goes well with tomatoes and other things variety). Thank you by the way local community farmers’ markets and New Jersey farmers for the seedlings. In terms of what came up from the seeds I planted, I also have radishes, cilantro, cucumbers, and zucchini growing in the garden.
One of the tomatoes, shortly after its mid-May transplant
The same tomato, now in mid-June
Radishes, harvested this week
Nothing says instant garden gratification like a bunch of radishes
Then again, cIlantro’s also a quick pleaser
And another look at the garden, mid-June. The sunflowers will likely feature more prominently in future looks, hugging the bottom corner and all along the right side.
Overall, so far so good, and more to come.