What a surprise to receive a seed catalog yesterday. It’s early June, too late to sow for summer and sort early to think about garlic, especially when you’re still nursing tiny tomato plants along. Turns out this catalog, from Territorial Seed Company in Oregon, has twenty-eight kinds of winter vegetables plus cover crop seed.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a seed catalog focused on winter vegetables, so this may be yet another sign that the home vegetable garden has caught back on. A Vancouver, B.C. newspaper recently reported that Northwest seed companies are doing their best business in twenty-five years. The Seattle PI says that 1500 people are waiting for a plot in one of Seattle’s 55 community gardens and city dwellers are growing vegetables in every nook and cranny, using strips of land the size of a parking space, ripping up lawn behind the senior center to plant beans, even growing tomatoes in pots on the fire escape.

The PI article has a supercool drawing of an energy-neutral structure designed by the Seattle firm Mithun that has hundreds of housing units plus vegetable gardens and chicken coops rising into the sky. The article also describes Seattle city council members’ efforts to reclaim unused urban space for gardens, just like Portland’s four-year-old Diggable City Initiative does.

Anyhoo, the Territorial catalog has some good winter planting information for this climate, including a reminder to start sowing winter vegetables next month. Last year I learned the hard way that seeds planted in August don’t get enough daylight to put on good growth, and most of my plants never got big or healthy enough to survive the cold. The best resource I’ve found on overwintering vegetables in this climate is Binda Colebrook’s Winter Gardening in the Northwest (Sasquatch Books, 1998). It’s out of print, but perhaps renewed interest in home vegetable gardening will bring it back.

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