Hope by the Packetful

March 18, 2015

– My own private Christmas morning. –

Life seems to go completely dormant as dirt, silent as snow, pointless as pajamas, until my little packages of sunshine arrive. Seeds are happiness in a packet. They are hope by the handful. A box full of seeds means anything is possible. Soon the world will be more delicious. 

– Is it spring…yet? – 

I start dreaming of next year’s seeds each year around October or November. It is then that I make rational decisions. I will not plant stuff that I do not eat. I will not plant stuff that only grows in the tropics. I will space my seeds properly, even lavishly, so that everything is manageable as it grows. I will not get suckered into descriptions or reviews. I will only grow what Eliot Coleman grows. I will be wise. I will plan appropriately. I will exercise restraint.

 – Sikkim Cucumbers. What the hell was I thinking? –

– Who wants another bowl of Jing Okra? –

But then December rolls around and I forget all the promises of my youth. I read an article in Mother Earth News and decide that I can’t live without Supai Red Parch Corn. Maybe I should buy a pack for a friend? Maybe we could have a little seed party? Then the glut of gorgeous seed catalogs begins rolling in with all their pretty pictures and provocative descriptions. (I hate you Baker Creek Heirlooms! You and your seductive catalogs.) 

I hibernate with my reading glasses, two fingers of bourbon in a glass, and a mug full of highlighter pens. I have no restraint. Why hold back now? The kids can fix their own dinner – Can’t they see I’m WORKING! Maybe I could dig another bed?

I buy more seeds than I can plant…more than everyone I know can plant. 

– Fruit dangling from archways and beans climbing teepees? A girl can dream. –

– I will not grow okra. I will not grow okra. Well, maybe a little okra. –

– Is a garden truly complete without Mexican Sour Gherkins? –

– Such a versatile…vegetable? Fruit? Whatever it is. –

– Is this even edible? –

And so, I go for it.  Credit cards are a’ blazing. I am impulsive. I am delirious. I am a sucker for all of it. All the descriptors. All the pretty illustrations and photographs. The sex appeal of seeds. My hope for the future knows no bounds.  

On this year’s list:

Chinese Green Luobo Radish

Tokyo Market Turnip

Hinoma Kabu Turnip 

Pusa Asita Carrot 

Nelson Carrots

Lutz Salad Beet 

Cylindra Beet

Chiogga Beet

 D’Avignon Radishes

McCaslan 42 

Blue Lake 


Asian Winged Beans 

Monachelle Di Trevio 

Jacob’s Cattle

Good Mother Stallard 

Haricot Tarbais  

Lincoln Peas

Sugar Snap Snap Peas

Petite Snap-Greens 

Broad Windsor Fava


Emily Basil

 Wild Zaatar Oregano


 Holy Kaprao Basil

Slo-Bolt Cilantro

Parsley (Giant of Italy)



Dwarf Nasturtium

 Violet Bowles Black Pansy

 Canton Bok Choy

 Famosa Cabbage

Beira Kale

Diablo Brussels Sprout

 Atlantic Broccoli  

Freckles Lettuce

 Surrey Greens 

 Green Towers 



Little Gem


Red Romaine

Red Veined Sorrel


Mixed Radicchio

Mixed Escarole

Chicory Bianco

Rhodos Frisse

Purplette Onion

West Indian Burr Gherkin

Parisian Pickling

 Northern Pickling

Patisson Strie MeLange

Costata Romanesco

Early Crookneck

Zucchino Rampicante 

Winter Luxury Pie

Bush Buttercup

Marino di Chioggia

Sibley Squash

Hawaiian Dance Mask

Big Apple Gourd

Bule Gourd

Eagle Pass Okra

Supai Red Parch Corn

Pink Okra

Aunt Molly Ground Cherry


– See you in a few months! –

Take your boots off before you come in here!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }


I totally LOVE this blog and its Author…I’m super excited to see you back in the Muddy Kitchen Jennifer…

MK brightens our gloomy days and reminds us all of the playful and joyful bounty of the earth…inspiration and hope…that’s what Muddy Kitchen cooks up with every episode!


Jennifer Solow

Thank you, sweetheart. My kitchen ain’t muddy without you. <3 <3 <3



Welcome back! I’ve missed you.


Jennifer Solow

Thanks, Angie! What do you think? Should I keep at this blog thing? I go back and forth.


The Farmer in the Dell's Wife

Opening the mailbox and finding the Baker Creek catalog sets my heart all aflutter. Time seems to stand still as I spend hours flipping through the pages, getting lost in the names like Hero of Lockinge, Navajo Winter, Pink Elephant and Blue Podded Blauwschokkers! Am I blushing? I think I’m blushing…


Jennifer Solow

What are you growing in your dell this year? xx


rosalyn kaplus

Did you know that your paternal great-grandfather, Nathan Soodik, was a produce distributor in the 1920s to 1930s in Beaver County, Pennsylvania?
Its in the genes.
Aunt Rozi



Had a question about your Mexican sour gerkins….the pictures of them pickled…can they be canned like normal pickles or do you have to put them in the fridge?


Jennifer Solow

Hi, Amy!
Yes indeedy, I can them like normal “canned” pickles. I also fermented them like my Jewish Pickles. Make sure you poke a ton of holes in them. Maybe cut them in half. The skin is pretty stubborn. A word of warning – they are photogenic and cute little buggers most of all. They don’t taste that great. They don’t pickle that well. They don’t stay crunchy or taste like a tiny green tomato (as they did in my imagination). And no one but you will appreciate them in the least. Good luck! Send pics!



Dreaming early about next year, haha, but trying to get my plans in order. I see that you have on your list Monachelle Di Trevio, I have just been reading about them. Wondering if you did plant some and how they did for you. Any thoughts appreciated, thank you, Carol


Jennifer Solow

Hi, Carol

Yes I did plant some of the Monachelle Di Trevio! I am a sucker for a romantic seed story (and their cute little Dalmatian bean markings) and had to try them. I grew them as part of my experimental “Three Sisters” planting and have absolutely no idea how they’re doing. They have twirled their way around my Red Supai corn and the 3 other kinds of beans I have in there. I can report back in a few weeks if I can ever tell what’s what.

I can say after many years of seed-suckership, that the most romantic stories do not always make for the happiest endings. Baker Creek is not as clear as say, Johnny’s, about the growing realities and regional conditions. Asian Winged Beans, for example, seem to grow only in someone’s imagination. Pink Okra grew to about 3″ not 3′. I tend to do “test plantings” or weird stuff before I rely on them as garden staples. This year I did a bunch of bean and squash (summer and winter) tests and will share results if you’re interested.

What are your favorite things to grow? And where do you grow them? I can share some of my culled down favs!!

Happy dreaming!



LOL! I know the temptation! If we didn’t have black walnut trees and a somewhat shady garden I would have no reason for reason or restraint. Pure passion!


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