Winter is time to dream big, get seed packets ready

Dreary winter days can be spent ordering seed packets, providing dreams of new plants in the spring.

The second week of January means summer is just a click or a postage stamp away. Yes, this month you can order all your flower and vegetable seeds either by a click of the computer or by mailing your wish list to a traditional seed company.

The reason to order seeds now – before the ground has even thawed – is that half the fun of growing from seed is the anticipation. Seeds are cheap compared to buying entire plants and this means you can feel free to experiment, dream big and even get carried away a bit as your winter dreaming produces bountiful bushels of fresh produce and overflowing beds of colorful flowers – all possible from a tiny packet of seeds.

Seed catalogs are the source of buried treasure offering such jewels as purple carrots, lemon cucumbers and canary bird vines. You don’t even need to plant and grow the seeds yourself. Gift a gardening friend a few seed packs and see what pops up.

From Ed Hume Seeds: Here are three unique plants to try from the local Ed Hume seed company based in Puyallup. The company specializes in varieties for the Pacific Northwest gardener.

Black Nebula Carrot

You may have seen purple carrots mixed with yellow and orange carrots at the grocery store, but this variety is not purple – it really is a dark, inky color all the way through from the skin to the core. The black carrot still tastes and cooks just like an orange carrot but the added color gives any recipe a fresh look. Just imagine a fresh carrot salad with grated black carrots mixed in with traditional orange carrots – a colorful, healthy and unique treat. You can still harvest carrots in the month of October around here, so the black nebula carrot was made to celebrate Halloween.

Lemon Cucumber

Yup, this is a cucumber with a sweet taste that looks just like a sour lemon. The shape is round and the color is yellow. Think of the fun you’ll have serving this in summer salads. Ed Hume gives special advice about all his seeds when you order or buy a pack and for lemon cucumbers he suggests you harvest when the cukes are the size of a golf ball. Smaller is better when it comes to these unusual cucumbers.

Tip: you can grow bush cucumbers in a large patio pot or train traditional, trailing cucumbers to climb up a trellis. Urban gardeners don’t need a lot of room to plant and reap a bountiful harvest.

Canary Bird Vine

Here is a fast-growing annual vine with a look so unusual you are going to want to post the name right next to the plant or you’ll be answering the door all summer. Anyone walking past your garden will want to stop and ask about this plant. The flowers are bright yellow and rather bird-like, but the foliage is the real star. Lovely, lobed, blue/green leaves look like they belong in the tropics – with canary birds.

The canary bird vine is from the same family as the nasturtium so it should be easy to grow. The growing advice from Ed Hume says not to fertilize or overwater and to plant the seeds in a warm, mostly sunny site. I have never grown Canary bird vine but this might be the summer I give it a try. I can see those bird-like blooms winging up a porch post or flocks of the yellow flowers covering the arbor in my vegetable bed. Maybe I’ll nail a metal bird cage to a tall post and plant the canary bird vine at the bottom. Trying new plants by ordering seeds is an inexpensive way to add something new and exotic to your garden.

So there you have it – a dreary winter day, but suddenly with new seeds to order my winter garden is growing into the garden of my fantasies.

• • •

Copyright for this column owned by Marianne Binetti.

More in Life

Photos courtesy of Washington Business Week
Hazen sophomore gets excited for business summer camp

Washington Business Week gave her friendships and courage, a student says

Illustrations by Rob McClurkan
Dr. Universe explains belly buttons

Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education column from Washington State University.

Mother Nature prefers her landscape to be layered

If you’re looking for low maintenance, put down layers of tall-, medium- and low-growing plants.

‘Talk to Me’ draws from real life

The view from above was stunning. The cliché says that people look… Continue reading

You’ll want to hang tight when reading ‘The New Iberia Blues’

Your hand is deep in a bucket of crunchy goodness. Without popcorn,… Continue reading

Breathe easier in 2019

Kick start your lung health with National Take the Stairs Day, Jan. 9

‘Roma:’ two lives, one story

Recommendation: 4/5 Stars, SHOWTIME Plot: “A story that chronicles a year in… Continue reading

Photo by Haley Ausbun.
                                The Hilands Barber Shop just a couple days before closure.
Folks say goodbye to the Hilands Barber Shop

The Barbershop’s lease was terminated for a new mixed-use property in the Highlands.

Get growing toward a happier, healthier life

The new year is a time for fresh starts and you can… Continue reading

Illustrations by Rob McClurkan
Dr. Universe explains bunnies

Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education column from Washington State University.

This book is loaded with both controversy and solutions

First shift begins in early morning. You hit work then, and run… Continue reading

Lunchbox brings memories

About 15 years ago, Diane Lawrence was on a summer road trip… Continue reading