Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra
It’s still winter outside, but spring is showing signs of returning – at least in my mailbox. The last two days have brought a bounty of seed orders: Pinetree Garden Seeds (42 packets) and Territorial Seed Company (11 packets) on Tuesday and Thompson & Morgan (13 packets) yesterday. So, 66 so far, and many more on the way! What was I thinking? I should have been thinking of how I’m going to manage all of this with four plant lights and one cold frame. Oh well, it’s worked out every other year, so I’m sure I’ll manage somehow. (As a side note, the rather ominous-looking bladed instrument in the photo is a machete from Pinetree. I’ve always wanted one, and I couldn’t resist it at $9.98.
Many of the seeds are repeats of last year’s favorite veggies and flowers, but I do have a few new things to try. One of the most intriguing so far is potato seeds – not seed potatoes, but actual potato seeds. They arrived from Territorial in this curious little container protected with a large tuft of cotton. Never having seen actual potato seeds, I didn’t know what to expect. I wish I’d been more careful when I pulled out the cotton, because I managed to lose a few of the seeds in the process. As you can see (those three white dots in front of the container), they’re pretty small!
One favorite that I haven’t had for a few years is Lysimachia atropurpurea. Not to be confused with the aggressive purple-leaved loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata ‘Purpurea’) or the invasive purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), this delicate beauty usually acts like a biennial here. The first year, its clumps of grayish green leaves are interesting but not especially showy. If they make it through the winter, though, the second-year show is fantastic, with spikes of blackberry-scented, violet-colored flowers in early summer. I’ve let them go to seed in past years but they’ve never self-sowed, so I’m thrilled to have a new batch of seed to try again.