Sprouts bring spring to mind

Last week, Penny Stine discovered spinach, garlic (pictured) and a mystery plant that doesn’t look like a weed sprouting in her garden. The spouts seem hardy and she thinks they have a good chance of surviving the remainder of the winter.

I used to be an avid downhill skier. We bought a Powderhorn Resort family season pass for several years and were up on the slopes almost every weekend.

Even though I didn’t learn to ski until I was in my 30s, I made myself learn how to do moguls and ski in the trees. I thought I would ski until I was in my 70s.

Then I got cold and budget-conscious. So far this year, I’ve skied once. I took our youngest son up to Sunlight Mountain over Christmas break.

Although that first swoosh off the lift was exhilarating and we had a great time, every time the weekend rolls around, I always find something else to do.

I’m no longer interested in spending almost a week’s worth of grocery money on half a day shivering on the lift and the other half of the day sweating like a pig while straining my quads ... even if the views are awesome.

Besides, I ordered seeds last weekend and am already planning this season’s garden.

In addition, I discovered spinach, garlic and an unknown something that doesn’t look like a weed sprouting in my garden.

Who could possibly spend a day skiing while tiny plants struggle so valiantly to survive in your garden spaces?

Not that I’m going to spend the day cheering them on or even covering them with mulch. I figure if they sprouted this early, they must be pretty hardy and tough. Although a little water on Saturdays might be an appropriate gesture on my part, especially during weeks without precipitation.

However, with all the seeds that I ordered, as well as all the seeds I plan to purchase locally, I need to sit down and figure out where it will all grow.

Last year, I crammed too much stuff in small garden beds and ended up with a jungle that was impossible to weed.

It seemed like a brilliant strategy last summer, until I spent a Saturday cleaning up the garden in November and discovered the lawn lurking under the tomatillos and squash plants.

Last month, The Daily Sentinel received a catalog from a seed company. It came to the front desk and had no name attached to it, so our receptionist passed it on to the gardening enthusiasts.

We tried not to waste too much time oohing over the photos, but really, I wonder if we managed to get anything productive done the day the Baker Heirloom Seed catalog came. It was like Christmas morning, except no one had to throw away wrapping paper.

Like the name says, the catalog features heirloom seeds and the company spends a fair amount of time up on a soapbox decrying the evil of hybrid seeds or genetically modified organisms or GMO seeds.

The company hails from Missouri, where they must have good dirt, adequate rainfall and a long growing season. I’ve spent most of my life living in places with lousy dirt, inadequate rainfall and weird seasons.

If I can find a hybrid pepper seed that promises to produce a sweet pepper in 45 days, you betcha, I’m going to try it.

I don’t care if it is a Frankenfood, I’d rather eat a sweet pepper out of my garden in July than buy peppers at the grocery store all summer while waiting for my heirloom seeds to deliver.

So I ordered a combination of hybrid and non-hybrid from two other catalogs, as well as a variety of unusual seeds from Baker Creek.

In spite of Baker Creek’s tendency to preach, their catalog was truly a work of art, with photos of unusual plants and promises of big yields.

Although I know I won’t get them to produce nearly as well as advertised, I was helpless to resist ordering several packets of seeds. I always like to grow something I’ve never seen or eaten before, and the catalog gave me plenty of opportunities.

Although I’ve never had much success with melons, I ordered a melon called the green machine and another one called a tigger melon.

The green machine looks like cantaloupe on the outside and honeydew inside. The tigger’s just odd: bright orange with yellow stripes outside and white inside. But (and this is why I wanted it), it’s supposed to be the most aromatic melon ever. Who can resist that?

Even though my pole beans didn’t produce last summer, I ordered seeds for bright red beans that are supposed to be between 12- and 18-inches long.

It always gets too hot too quickly for my snow peas, but I ordered a yellow variety that’s supposed to climb 6 feet.

Some things you just gotta try.

Besides, hopes springs eternal in the mind of a western Colorado gardener who’s seduced by pictures and promises from a seed company in Missouri.


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