Dear Angela and Madi,
I am so happy I was able to send you some seeds to start your garden this year! I have so many that it’s always nice to be able to share. You pretty much have a mixture of organic, commercial, open-pollinated, hand-gathered and store-bought seeds in your envelope. While some people feel you should only plant organic, open-pollinated seeds, I’m of the camp that believes the seeds are fine, it’s how you tend them that counts!!
I’m sure you’re wondering just what you should be doing with your little packets of (mostly) brown seeds. Well, you’re in luck–’cause that’s why I’m writing this letter to you! I should have put this in the envelope with your seeds but I was in a hurry and so promised myself I would take this route. I was careful to label everything I sent and I know you girls are capable of reading and researching on your own. I just thought I would send along some of my “wisdom” as well.
In your packet, you will find several categories of seeds. I have them classified as: herbs, tomatoes, flowers, vegetables, squash/melons, and novelty items. The novelty items are always my favorite but they’re not usually edible!
- coriander: this is the seed name for cilantro. Cilantro is that yummy herb that looks like parsely. You’ll usually find it in your salsa or Thai dishes! Why don’t you go ahead and plant your coriander outside? It won’t last long once the weather gets hot, so get it planted and get ready to enjoy its spicy delicious flavor!
fennel: What I love best about fennel is that the swallowtail butterfly thinks it’s highly attractive. This beautiful black butterfly will lay her eggs on the pretty and feathery fennel plant. Soon, you will see tiny black caterpillars (larvae) which will soon grow into yellow, black, and white striped beauties! Fennel seeds can also be chewed as a breath freshener and digestive aid. Nice, eh?
sage: You can start your sage in pots inside. It’s a lovely slow growing perennial that will last you several years. As it grows to maturity, you will be rewarded with pretty spikes of purple flowers. Of course, be sure to pick the leaves for flavoring your meals. You can also make a tea with the leaves and use it as a rinse on your gorgeous brunette heads!
basil: Basil has rightly been called the king of herbs. Where would we be without this pungent addition to spaghetti, pizza, soups, bread and pasta? Plant lots of it. Use it fresh, dried or frozen!
- Peas: go ahead and plant these delicious sweet peas right now! It’s the perfect time for them to be growing as they love the mild spring climate.
Lettuce: plant a bit of the lettuce outside but don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t sprout. Here in the South, lettuce is a cool season crop. With the first hint of warm weather, it goes to seed and sprouts flowers that look just like weeds! HINT: if you want to make your lettuce crop last a bit longer, plant it in a shady place.
Carrots: Carrots are another cool season crop. However, I want you to plant them when you plant your tomatoes. Always remember: carrots love tomatoes! These plants are beneficial to one another.
Tomatoes: They are very easy to grow. Wet your soil, pop the tomato seed about 1/8 of an inch below the surface, pat the soil down over it. Once the weather is warm enough to transplant your tomatoes, dig a hole deep enough to almost completely BURY your little plants! Your tomatoes will be stronger if you plant all but the top 3 or 4 inches below ground. Another NOTE: don’t water your tomatoes at night, and always water below the leaves. Never water from above. Your tomatoes could stay wet through the night and potentially catch nasty fungus or bacteria!
Green, orange and red bell peppers: Plant these peppers just as you would the tomatoes. Grow them indoors and don’t you DARE put them outside until after Easter! 🙂
Collards: collards are a cool season crop but go ahead and plant them because they are also perennial. They will stick around and provide you with greens for many seasons to come!
Speckled lima beans: Great lima bean that grows as a small bush. You can start them indoors or outdoors. This bean will provide you with many pods. Warning: the pod is NOT edible! In fact, it’s quite gross. I already tried. I know.
Seminole Squash: The Seminole squash is native to Florida. The Native Americans, grew this squash next to pine trees and then trained the vine to climb to the top of the tree! Wow! Let’s hope your vines don’t get that big. This squash is a delicious winter squash, which means that it will have a hard rind, like a pumpkin, when it is ripe. It has a beautiful deep orange flesh on the inside and can be eaten SO many different ways! The Seminole squash is said to be highly disease and pest resistant.
Cantaloupe: These melons are so easy to grow. I’ve had them come up all over the yard–and I don’t even like them! You’ll know they’re ripe when the end “eyes” are soft and they smell sweet. One note of warning, all kinds of stinging insects like cantaloupes as well. So, look out for wasps and bees that may be feasting on any rotten fruit!
Crimson Sweet Watermelon: This watermelon came up in my yard last year and did so well! You’re going to love how easy watermelons are to grow. Some people just plant them and then forget about them once they’re established.
Tennessee Spinning Gourds: These gourds are tiny and are shaped like tiny bottles. At one time, children took them to school and practiced spinning them in contests!!
Pocket MelonThis pretty little melon looks almost just like a miniature watermelon when it is unripe. As it ripens, it grows to a beautiful yellow and orange hue. The fragrance is so sweet! But, don’t let the sweet smell fool you! This melon isn’t edible. Ladies in the past carried these melons in their pockets, as perfume!!
Loofah: A loofah is that lovely scrubber that Angela probably has in the shower. As it grows, it’s shaped a bit like a cucumber. When small, it can be eaten and is said to taste a bit like okra. As the loofah ripens, the rind gets tougher and tougher. Just let it dry on the vine. Once fully dry, you’ll be able to peel off the skin and remove the loofah inside!
Well girls, I hope your planting guide has been of some help. My poor fingers are all typed out! If I think of anything to add, I will. As well, if you have any questions, please ask!
Happy planting to you all!