Friday, February 1, 2008

Cook's Garden--Where are you?

I'm waiting for my last batch of seed. Sure, it's a couple of months before the last frost, but I still would like them. Then, I can look at them all together and dream about what they will grow into.

I ordered from Cook's Garden with a little regret. I jumped at leafing through Cook's Garden first The cover looked very different from last year's cover--a colorful woodblock print of a gardener painting in her packed veggie garden. Woodblock illustrations instead of photos were used throughout the catalog. This year's was all photos. Then, I looked through Burpee's catalog, which I never requested. I did a double take. Some of the same exact photos I saw in Cook's Garden were in Burpee's catalog. I looked at the return addresses of the catalogs and sure enough, they're the same. I felt like someone was trying to trick me. Especially, since some of the cultivar names are changed in one catalog from the other.

After a little research, I found out that Burpee bought Cook's Garden in 2004, but everything was to remain the same. The Odgens (original owners) were hopeful that not too much would change and it wouldn't expand much. Does this ring a bell with any of you who love(d) Heronswood? I thought so. If you wish, Garden Rant gives a personal account of another Cook's Garden customer.

The main reason why I did order seed from Cook's Garden is because they offer mixes of many different crops. I want to try growing eggplant for the first time this year. Because my space is limited, a mix will let me compare them side by side and evaulate which ones will do best next year. Or, if I'm even able to grow eggplants at all. I really wanted the 'Fingerling Mix' but when I ordered online, they weren't available so I took the mix of what they offered.

'Kaleidoscope Mix' carrots are another item on my list. These carrots come in a range of colors: red, purple, orange, and yellow. I couldn't resist thoughts of how wonderful they would look in summer salads.

Beets are another crop I will try for the first time this year so I opted for the 'Rainbow Mix'. Of course, no seed of 'Bull's Blood' will be included, but that's okay. As I thin out the planting, I can use the leaves for micro-greens in spring salads. I can also sow a batch later in the summer for fall.

'Pistou' basil is the one herb I bought from Cooks. The leaves are supposedly so fine you won't need to chop them. I have many different dishes that call for basil both dried and fresh, including pesto of course.

I am trying a different tomato this year called 'Lady Bug'. The fruits are 1" in diameter which will be a good size for ripening. Last year, the 'Pantano Romanesco' tomatoes (from Baker Creek) were too large that by the time they stopped growing, there wasn't enough sun to ripen them up. I got just a few that were amazingly delicious. So, if we have a summer like we did last year...well, let's just plan on that not happening!

I did purchase one packet of flower seed: 'Matucana' Sweet Pea. Yes, I was suckered in by the bold-looking burgundy and purple flowers. I've got my bamboo poles ready for trellising these vines up against the fence to create a striking background. They will also compliment the allium and Spanish lavender later in the spring.

Think of my order from Cook's as an experiment in figuring out where I should purchase those great performers for next year. I'll let you know who will be invited back next year.

Stay tuned...I tell you what seed I found in the refrigerator. It's only a couple of years old, and may not produce anything. But, it's worth a try, right?

The Cook's Garden Seeds I received a week later. Finally!

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