Thursday, February 2, 2012

Seed Catalog Advice, Garden Planning, Black Squirrels and Happy Imbolc/Candlemas/Groundhogs Day

Happy Imbolc/Candlemas/Groundhogs Day! Or whatever your Religion or Lifestyle calls this Cross Quarter day. :)

It's the Celtic New Year for me; when the Light begins to return as the days start to noticeably become longer. And this is the day I've been waiting for as my personal New Year this year. I've always loved Imbolc and it seemed the right focus for me to see as the day I leave behind all the bad aspects of the last year for me. I still have some healing to do; and treatment in the next few weeks; but I'll get through it.

The work we're doing this month at Creative Awakenings is on “Presence – the Sacred Moment of NOW” (a new, small but growing group working on Spirituality in Creativity (and vice versa)). This works well with where I am at the moment in my healing. While I'm much better I'm not far enough along to just start running around and while I have my moments of frustration I see having to restrain myself and Be Here Now (to quote Ram Dass); a good way to start my new year.

That's not to say I don't have things to Do. But much time needs to be spent simply Being still.

One of the things I plan on doing this afternoon is to start planning The Garden. February is a good time to do this here in the North East USA. Even in a mild Winter as we are having now.

As always most of my seed will come from High Mowing Farm. A small family owned organic company in Vermont.

Beware many of the catalogs out there; most are no longer owned by the families that started them in the years past and are owned by huge companies. Some by the same company. If you suspect your old seed company isn't living up to it's past qualities then you might look into who their parent company is.

I know people who are having issues with older and/or bigger seed companies in recent years who are now turning to smaller family owned companies. One of the most common issues is wrong varieties in packets. Nothing like giving garden space for a eating tomato only to find you're growing nothing but sauce tomatoes.

While Vermont may be a long way from you I'd suggest you give them a try but if you want to find something nearer to you there are some guidelines I'd suggest:

* Buy certified Organic. (I no longer get seed from companies that aren't 100% organic. I've dropped some folks I've done business with for years because I noticed their organic line is getting smaller as is their open pollinated. If Organic seems like an after thought then it probably is. Better to focus and support/vote for those that are totally dedicated to organic seed production.

* Buy open Pollinated when you can.

* Buy Heritage seed when you can; keep these delicious well producing species going before the big companies kill off the varieties in the name of easy marketing and GMO promotion.

* Buy untreated seed.

* Make sure the company is really owned by a family. No parent company is involved.

* The company really is small. I'd rather do business with several small companies with small inventories then one huge one who gets their seed god knows where.

* When you call with a question a human answers the phone. A better sign is when you have to leave a message for the person who can answer you because he or she are in the fields.

* It's as local as possible. Vermont is one state up from me so HM Farm is a good choice. Check out whose closest to you that fills the above criteria.
High Mowing Farm isn't the only seed company that covers the above and more so look around.

I'll report in a few days or so on how the plan is. I'm hoping to get my order out in, at the most, two weeks.

I leave you today with a photo of Shadow. His story is a few years ago we had a black squirrel show up at our winter feeder. Turns out they are the same squirrel as our gray squirrels but have some gene pigment that shows up sometimes. I've seen the black squirrels in Toronto; where gray is the rare one. But never seen one anywhere else.

This year I have three black squirrels amongst about ½ dozen grays. So the population is growing. Since I can't tell one black squirrel from another: I call them all Shadow :)

Sorry the photo is of such poor quality but it's taken with an iphone.


  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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  2. Thank you for your kind words and I'm glad you enjoy it. It's very nice to get feed back like this. Feel free to comment any time :)

  3. Here in Nebraska I had seen black squirrels in only one town in the far southeast corner, but they are now in my yard and neighborhood in Lincoln frequently. The red squirrels chase them off and none live here. Interesting that you're seeing them on the east coast as well.

  4. I spotted more down the road so there are even more then the three up on my mountain top. As I said; Toronto has always had Black Squirrels and maybe other cities along the Great Lakes but I'm not sure anymore.

    I think it's cute your red squirrels chase them. :) Our red ones are just a tad bigger then a chipmunk so if it's the same for yours then not sure why the bigger ones are running. :)

    It is interesting that we are both seeing more of them.

    On another note:
    Apparently we could be getting Purple ones soon. :D

  5. Yea for strathmore, we are connecting. I didn't know they had black squirrels, don't think I have ever seen one here in Texas. We have red and grey ones. xo

  6. @ Annette: :D I've met so many great artists and people through the Strathmore courses.

    I think the black squirrels are amazing. I knew about them but I thought they were a separate species of squirrel; like grey vs red. They are probably less then 1% of the squirrel population in the hollow but every year there are a few more.

    P.S: love your work!