Tag Archives: seeds

Cool climate gardening

Todays Harvest Basket Sept 18, 2012

Tomatoes and peppers are easiest and most popular home grown vegetables.

When my favorite Canadian cousin asked for advice and gardening suggestions, I thought about NicholsGarden Nusery. I’ve been ordering from Nichols for 20 years.

Cousin Sheila wanted to know what seeds would be good for her friend, a new gardener in Alaska.

They raise cabbage in Alaska that make my Missouri crop look like Brussels Sprouts. The first people I would turn to if I wanted to know about gardening in Canada are her parents, my Uncle and Aunt.

Nobody knows Alaska gardening better than Jeff Lowenfels. His column in the Anchorage Daily News is helpful for all gardeners, especially Alaskans.

I was going to suggest some of the best catalogs for colder climates, but Jeff’s suggestions are exactly what I was going to suggest. Seed Catalogs for Alaska gardeners.

If your friend wants to follow a great Gardening Blog, Kathy Purdy’s
Cold Climate Gardening is one of the best.

Rose Marie Nichols McGee introduced me to Indigo Rose. “It’s the worlds first high anthocyanin tomato,” she said.  “Oh, really,” I said. (Note to self, What the heck is anthocyanin? Find out.)

Rose Marie sent seed, and I grew little blue tomatoes last summer. So, I grew beautiful little saladette Indigo Rose tomatoes.

Indigo Rose ripe

When exposed to full sun, these Indigo Rose tomatoes turn blue. Photo Patsy Bell Hobson

If I was a new gardener, I’d buy a couple of  tomato plants and a pepper plant. Then, I would grow leafy greens from seed. Lettuces to start, then chard, kale, and/or spinach.

Or, if I am planting a first garden in Alaska, I might grow these vegetables from Nichols. Rose Marie Nichols McGee has a great blog on the Nichols site, The Gardener’s Pantry Blog.

Garden 1. Salad, tomato, squash. cucumber

Start with salad greens, radish and spinach

lettuce and spinach will be suceeded by pepper plants

lettuce and spinach will be suceeded by tomato and pepper plants. Photo PBH

  • Mesclun – (mixed lettuces) Nichols Organic Mesclun “The Eclectic Eleven”

Why? Because you get a lot of different salad greens, all in one packet.

  • Radish – Easter Egg Radish

Why? Because there a several colors and all taste the same (not hot).

  • Spinach – Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach and/or chard or kale

Why? – Fresh spinach salad with hot bacon dressing

Sungold tomato. photo: PBH

Sungold tomato. photo: PBH

  • Tomato: Sun Gold – The sweetest cherry tomato ever.
  • Tomato: Glacier – Very early medium sized tomato
  • Tomato: Oregon Spring – Large early fruits from compact plants.
  • Squash: Jackpot Zucchini – early, non stop production.
  • Cucumber: National Pickling – compact, small for pickling and fresh.


Garden 2. Tomatoes, squash and green beans


Stupice heirloom, early producer. Photo: Renee’s Garden

Another choice for a first garden: Tomatoes, squash and green beans are a good starter garden. I’ve gown these plants in my garden, and they will do well in Alaska too. These seeds are from Renee’s Garden.

  • Tomato: Stupice – Early bearing, cold tolerant, with richly flavored fruits on short vines. Heirloom.
  • Tomato: Italian Pompeii – loads up early with heavy harvests of meaty plum tomatoes.
  • Tomato: Little Red Pear – vigorous vines load up with clusters of petite pear-shaped ruby-red fruits. Heirloom.
  • Green Beans: Rolande – French “haricot verts”, long skinny, tender full flavor green beans.
  • Green Beans: Provider – Great tasting, highly productive and reliable variety. Heirloom.
  • Squash: Tricolor Mix – three beautiful zucchini summer squash in one packet.

Join Renee’s Comunity Garden.  Find fellow gardeners and get your garden questions answered here. I’ll see you at Renee’s Community Garden.

More Help:

Top Tomato Tips: How to Plant Tomatoes

Decoding Tomato Plants Tags

What is a F-1 tomato?

What is Succession Planting?

Stretch your garden harvest by planting the same crop ten days later, and then again in ten more days.

lettuce and spinach will be suceeded by pepper plants

Another method is to replace one crop with another. For example, I’ll plant spinach in the early spring. As the weather gets warmer, I’ll plant green beans where the spinach was. I’ll plant half the row, and then, ten days later, I’ll finish planting the row with more green beans. Later, I’ll plant turnips in the row that grew green beans.

This method of gardening maximises your garden space. Even a tiny garden or big container can be used in this way.

Early peas will be replaced with green beans

Renee’s Garden has one of the most productive guides to using and reusing your garden space.

Renee’s Kitchen Garden Design Plans designed to maximize space.

Renee’s FAQs site gives you an organic gardeners short and sweet answer, not a science lecture. Her site is especially helpful on ferilizing and storing seed.

Zoning In

Find your plant hardiness zone. Use this guide to buy plants and learn when to sow seeds. I think the line between 6a and 6b runs right through my front yard. Depending on the investment – how much money I spend on the tree or plant –  I go back and forth, my answer could be different on any given day. I live in zone 6a. Or is it  6b?

US National Arboretum “Web Version” of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Toasty Pumpkins Seeds

Save some seed for planting and use some for healthy snacks.

Photo by Brook Ashley

Saving seed from pumpkins and squashes

An easy seed to save, and you’ve got time. Most winter squashes will keep for months. When you do get around to eating these hardy winters wariors, save some seed before you cook the squash. Rinse the seed, let then dry, flat and in a single layer between a paper towels.

If you do have bumper crops of pumpkins and squash, save seed from your brightest and firmest of your collection.  Save the rest for of the seeds for toasting. You might just discover an inexpensive, homegrown and homemade treat to use for garnishing winter soups and breads. Stir Pumpkin seed and sunflower seeds into holday party mix,

Small sweet pumpkins selected for punkin soup. The seeds make a great garnish,


One pumpkin
Vegitable oil

Toasty pumpkin seeds

Scoop the pulp and seeds from inside the pumpkin. Seperate the stringy pulp from the seeds. Compost the pulpy core. Rinse the seeds.

To make salted pumkin seeds:

Bring 4 cups of water with a Tablespoon of salt to boil. Add seeds. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain seeds and spread out in a single layer to dry on cotton towels or paper towels. Skip this step if you do not want salted seeds.

To make seasoned pumpkin seeds:

Heat oven to 375. Spray pan with any good vegetable oil. Spread seeds onto cookie sheet in a single layer. Spay lightly with oil. If you want spicy seeds, add seasoning now.

(Try a light sprinkle of chili seasoning mix, butter flavored popcorn salt, or onion salt. If you use a seasoned salt, skip the boiling-in-salt-water-step.)

Bake on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown (about 15 to 20 minutes). If you would like seededs darker, put back in oven, checking often until they are as brown as you like. Watch carefully, the time between browned and burned is but an instant.

Remove the tray of pumpkin seed and cool on an a rack. Let the seeds completely cool. Eat the seeds whole. If you have all the time in the world, crack open the pumpkin seeds and eat only the inner seed. I like te eat the whole seed.

Chop and use as garnish in soups and other dishes that could use a little crunch. Store in an air tight zipper bag in the frig.

If you do have any left over, roasted or raw seeds, share them with the birds.

20% off on ALL pumpkin seed ar Renee’s Garden.

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