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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Happy Gardening!

By Susan Burkhart,
Supervisor of Grounds

Winter is the perfect time to get excited about the summer season ahead. The seed catalogs arriving in the mail provide inspiration about the unique vegetables and flowers you’d like to grow in your garden this summer.
I love that each year the seed bank brings out different seeds from years gone by. The heirloom variety of seeds is endless and the taste of these historic vegetables can sometimes be superior to anything you can buy from the store. For me, heirloom varieties mean lots of flavor. Growers today often have to sacrifice the flavor of vegetables while selecting a variety that can be grown in quantity and easily shipped. These vegetables look great until you take that first bite.

When I started doing research on gardening I found a book from 1905 with details about Fulton County. It was a wonderful book sharing the history of the families living here. The part of the book I found most interesting was the record keeping. The book included details about the weather and a detailed list of varieties of vegetables, crops, and fruit trees. The list of trees growing were categorized by whether they were native or brought here from other parts of the country or even other countries. I’m guessing this gentleman either had little to do outside of gardening or he was just that passionate about keeping wonderful records! Either way, hats off to him for providing such a wonderful treasure for generations to come to stay connected to the past.

You can do something very similar! One thing I do every year is keep a journal throughout the season of what I want to grow and what worked well in our gardens the year before. At this time of the year, I often look back at my journal to see what I grew too much or not enough of last season and make adjustments for the coming year. I keep track of the weather - noting rain amounts, temperature, and how soon I was able to get in the gardens in the spring. You can keep a very detailed journal or keep it simple and just list the varieties you planted. An envelope to put the plant markers in with the year and notes on the outside also works well.

I hope you’ll take time this winter to learn more about heirloom varieties and make plans to include some new plants in your garden this season! To learn more about heirloom varieties, make plans for your garden, and even purchase seeds for this season there are a number of websites I find very useful.
Website resources include:

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
R.H. Shumway's
Landis Valley Museum
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Seed Savers Exchange

So get busy and start daydreaming of warmer weather and fresh produce from your garden. Happy gardening!

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