2007-02-08 / News

The Island Garden

By Roger Marshall

The seed catalogs are piling up. Right now the pile is about a foot high and growing. But that's OK. It gives me an idea of what is available. More importantly, I order from many of them.

Last year, I got the best onions I have ever grown. Many were eight to nine inches diameter. I ordered them from Dixondale Farms in Texas (www.dixondalefarms.com) and bought four different bunches of 60 plants for $20. By following the instructions the onions were superb, and we have just finished the last of the stored onions.

Similarly, I grew heirloom fingerling potatoes from Ronnigers (www.ronnigers.com). A pack of five different one pound packets of potatoes and two pounds of fingerlings costs $28.80 and do they taste good! Both suppliers send their products around the middle of April or you can ask for them to be sent earlier.

For seeds, I tend to use Thompson and Morgan flower seeds because they have such a huge variety (www.thompsonandmorgan. com), plus I like the idea of ordering English seeds.

I start hanging basket seeds about Jan. 1 and have found that Thompson and Morgan can provide the seeds when I need them.

I often start flower seeds in late November or early December and need to get seeds early and so far T & M have always come through.

I also purchase English seeds on my frequent trips to UK in the fall. For that matter, I always look in garden centers wherever I travel to try to find something a little different, although you can't bring plants into the U.S.

Vegetable seeds come from a lot of different places. My favorites come from Territorial Seeds (www.territorialseed.com) or Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (www.rareseeds.com), but if you want to purchase small quantities at a very reasonable price go to Pinetree Seeds (www.superseeds. com). They're out of Maine and epitomize the old Yankee ethic of providing value for money.

For bulbs and flowering shrubs, I've used two places for years and had great results from both of them. Brent and Becky's Bulbs (www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com) last year sent a package of dahlias, cannas, lilies and other plants last year that gave really amazing results all summer long.

The other bulb company I often use is K.van Bourgondien & Sons (www.dutchbulbs.com). Their bulbs have rarely failed to give huge flowers and wonderful spreads of flowers. My biggest problem is that I am usually traveling so much in the fall that I forget to order fall-planted bulbs.

All the daffodils that have been coming up in my garden for the last 15 years came from Van Bourgondien. This year, I might also try another bulb catalog from Old House Gardens (www.oldhousegardens. com). It has many antique and old bulbs of the type that used to grow on our island before modern hybrids were developed.

For greenhouse supplies, the top supplier in my opinion is Charley's Greenhouse (www. charleysgreenhouse.com). The folks there are a delight to talk to, and Tamara was very helpful and knowledgeable when I needed some information. Plus your supplies come quickly.

While it is not as comprehensive as Charley's, Worms Way (www.wormsway.com) is a store that has all manner of lighting, hydroponic, and other greenhouse supplies, including weird things like seabird guano, flowering and fruit fertilizer, and organic potting soil.

If you are into rare and exotic plants, a couple of catalogs will help deprive you of a little more of your hard earned cash. Stoke Tropicals (www.stokestropicals. com), Heronswood nursery (www. heronswood.com) and Raintree Nursery (www.raintreenursery. com) have a wide range of plants that can grace your yard with fruit and flowers never before seen growing in Jamestown.

Last week, I plucked fresh oranges from my orange tree, used banana leaves from a corm supplied by Stokes Tropicals about 10 years ago, and enjoy key lime pie from limes picked off a tree in the greenhouse.

These, then, are a few of the catalogs that cross my desk. Most are fun read especially when there's snow on the ground, and I can dream about what I am going to grow in a few months.

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