marble & milkweed

seed sourcing

Perhaps you've been dreaming of the gardening season ahead, too? In the last week or so, I've been sorting through seeds left over from last year and seeds collected from our native plant collection at 6&B in the autumn. One crucial thing to note about many native plant seeds is that they need a cold dormancy period (called "stratification"), to mimic what they would experience outdoors in the elements, in order to germinate properly. Some native plant seeds can also be sown in the autumn, if there is a safe and protected spot in one of your beds for them. Since I typically start my seeds in late March and early April, and many of my native plant seeds need between 30-60 days of cold treatment (placed in a damp coffee filter in a small bag in the fridge does the trick!), I've been doing a bit of planning about what to plant this year, and where it might go in our tiny 8 by 5 foot community garden plot. Things that won't fit will be sold at our annual Plant & Bake Sale, to raise funds for the bustling season of garden events ahead, and still more seedlings will be given away to fellow garden members, traded for other coveted baby plants, or plunked in at the last moment, in desperation, wherever a little space can be found.

If you're interested in preparing to save your own seeds starting this season and beyond, here is a wonderful guide. And some advice for germinating them.

I'll be planting various milkweeds from seed saved at 6&B this last autumn, including swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), a beautiful white milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) and the brilliant orange butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), all of which support a variety of pollinators.

I was also thrilled to support the fundraising campaign for Milkweed Medicinal seeds last year, and came away with a truly gorgeous collection of certified organic herb seeds, carefully selected for their potency and vigor, that I will be planting from again this year including Baical Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis), Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea), Tulsi Kapoor (Ocimum sanctum var. Kapoor) and many, many more. It looks like their site may be down for maintenance right now, though, but an update will be coming soon, according to this post. UPDATE: here's their new site!

For an enormous selection of medicinal plant seeds, as well as potted starts, I turn to Strictly Medicinal Seeds, in Williams, OR. I adore receiving their old-school hand-illustrated catalog in the mail, and I appreciate their focus on certified organic, open-pollinated and GMO-free selections. My beloved rose geranium plants at the studio came from Strictly Medicinal as starts, and have given me much scented joy over the years. 

I haven't made a purchase yet, but I've been following Owen's work at True Love Seeds ever since I took a seed-saving workshop with him at the GreenThumb GrowTogether (a local community gardening conference) a few years back. If you garden in NYC be sure to sign up for this year's conference, more info here

"Truelove Seeds is a seed company offering rare, open pollinated, and culturally important vegetable, herb, and flower seeds. Our seeds are grown by more than 20 small-scale urban and rural farmers committed to community food sovereignty, cultural preservation, and sustainable agriculture. This collaboration is an opportunity for growers to share their own seeds and stories and to bring in extra financial support for their food sovereignty and agroecological projects."

I'm really looking forward to placing an order with them for a few treats for our children's vegetable garden, which we source from all season long for the kids cooking workshops that M and I help facilitate.

I also made a small, but indulgent purchase from Floret this winter for a few frilly little things, including a California poppy called "Thai Silk Appleblossom Chiffon". Who could resist a name like that? I've also been experimenting with carnation essences quite a bit in the studio, so I decided to grab a packet of the supposedly very fragrant heirloom "Chabaud La France" carnation, to do a little in-person research with the flower itself.

And to fill in the gaps, I always love placing an order with High Mowing for the basics, including greens to sow in succession (even in the smallest of spaces!), and parsley and cilantro to snip for garnishes throughout the season.

If you're local, you may also want to check out the 13th Annual Seed Celebration & Swap happening at the Old Stone House in Park Slope on February 10th. More info here!

Have you started your garden dreaming yet for the coming season? I'd love to know what you'll be planting!


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